The Contemporary Essay

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project participant(s)

Department / unit(s)

Description

In 2017 contemporary essayist Jia Tolentino proclaimed the “personal essay boom” in American literary culture over. But while the essay has seemed ubiquitous in contemporary American literary culture, its status as a major form has remained largely unexplored. While “the essay” may be familiar to readers of The Atlantic or the New Yorker, pinning down what its formal characteristics are—beyond its formal malleability—presents a serious critical challenge.

The Contemporary Essay seeks to address the critical vacuum in the study of the essay and its problems of aesthetic categorisation. What happens when we look at the essay historically? Or try to situate it within national literary traditions? Are the parameters of the personal essay at odds with its political valence in today’s literary landscape? How do contemporary essayists, such as Emilie Pine and Leslie Jamison, reshape a longstanding tradition of cultural criticism in the “program era”?

The objectives of this strand are twofold: to stabilise an emergent field and to establish an international, interdisciplinary, and cross-period network of scholars. The strand will be structured around three core components: a fortnightly interdisciplinary and postgraduate-led reading group; and a series of research seminars that will develop this emerging field of study.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/08/2031/07/21

Discover related content

Find related publications, people, projects, datasets and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations