This is a course for students interested in improving their writing in a productive, friendly, workshop setting. Half the course will be devoted to student work. The other half will be spent discussing selected published essays by a variety of writers. We will consider three functions of the essay, including (1) self-exploration; (2) social and cultural criticism; (3) ethical debate. We will study stylistic and rhetorical aspects of the essay form. The goal is to encourage creativity, clear expression of ideas, and persuasive power in essay writing. We will read the works of Montaigne, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, John Berger, Roland Barthes, Jonathan Swift, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. Topics will include race, freedom, sexuality, culture, identity, and other important contemporary issues.