On the Contemporary Essay: Lauren Elkin in conversation

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic lecture


Famously defined through its etymological root ‘essayer’, meaning ‘to try’, ‘to attempt’, the essay is one of the most diverse and most evasive literary forms. Touching on cultural criticism, political and philosophical treatise, journalism, autobiography, observation, theory, fragment, aphorism, lectures, and academic writing, the essay is not only a dynamic, if undefined, art form, it is one that is fundamentally tied to the mechanisms and strategies through which we read and write about art and life.

Lauren Elkin is one of today's most eloquent essayists. She is a Franco-American writer and translator, the author most recently of No. 91/92: Notes on a Parisian Commute (Les Fugitives) and Flâneuse: Women Walk the City (Chatto & Windus), which was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, a New York Times Notable Book of 2017, and a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel award for the art of the essay. Her writing on books, art, and culture have appeared in a variety of publications including the London Review of Books, the New York Times, Granta, Harper’s, Le Monde, the Times Literary Supplement, Les Inrockuptibles, and Frieze, and her essay "This is the Beginning of Writing," published in the Sewanee Review, was awarded notable distinction in the Best American Essays of 2019, edited by Rebecca Solnit. Her next book, Art Monsters: On Beauty and Excess is forthcoming in 2023 (Chatto).

To talk everything about the essay, she will be in conversation with Alexandra Kingston-Reese, senior lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at the University of York and, most recently, the editor of Art Essays: a collection (Iowa, 2021).

This conversation is part of the Centre for Modern Studies research strand The Contemporary Essay.
Period14 Jun 2022
Held atEnglish and Related Literature
Degree of RecognitionInternational