by Mario Aquilina and Nicole B. Wallack
On 29 March 2023, two of the editors of The Edinburgh Companion to the Essay, Mario Aquilina (The University of Malta) and Nicole B. Wallack (English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University) led a roundtable with five Columbia University faculty contributors to the volume: Alan Stewart, Bruce Robbins, Leslie Jamison, Phillip Lopate, and Glenn Michael Gordon. The event was hosted by the Society of Fellow/Heyman Center for the Humanities for both an in-person and remotely-attending audience.
In this video, Wallack and Aquilina describe the Essay Companion’s conception, and explain the focus for each of the volume’s major sections (Theories and Definitions; Contemporary Essayists in Focus; Publics, Pedagogies, and Histories; Form and Genre). The panelists read from their contributions and explore how the essay as a genre and practice shapes their past and current work. This conversation provides readers of the volume both with the opportunity to experience the text directly from the authors and editors and also offers compelling ideas for new discussions by scholars, writers, teachers, and students of essays.
About the book
The Edinburgh Companion to the Essay distinguishes itself by the wide range and scope of its themes, voices and approaches. Thirty-five leading essayists, literary critics and writing instructors explore the essay from multiple perspectives, including its theories, forms and histories as well as its cultural, political and pedagogical contexts. In particular, the volume extends the theory of the essay by addressing topics such as the construction of an essayistic self and the political dimensions of essaying. It further explores the relationship between the essay and other forms, such as philosophical writing, the column, science writing, the novel, the lyric and the advert as well as the essay in digital spaces.