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John Locke's 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Essays of Michel de Montaigne

University students, like these students doing research at a university library, are often assigned essays as a way to get them to synthesize what they have read.

Bastiat's Essays on Political Economy

Malthus' Essay on the Principle ofPopulation

An 1895 cover of Harper's, a US magazine that prints a number of essays per issue.

"After School Play Interrupted by the Catch and Release of a Stingray" is a simple time-sequence photo essay

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of How to write an essay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Essays" redirects here. Forotheruses, see Essays (disambiguation). An essay is a shortpiece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition of an essay is vague, overlapping with those of an article and a short story. Almost all modern essays are written inprose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g. Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population provide counterexamples. In some countries (e.g., in the United States), essays have become a major part offormal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills, and admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants and, in the humanities and social sciences, as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams. The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other mediums beyond writing. A film essay is a moviethat often incorporates documentary film making styles and which focuses more on the evolution of a theme or an idea. A photographic essay is an attempt to cover a topic with a linked series of photographs; it may or may not have an accompanying text or captions.

Contents [hide] 1 Definitions 2 History 2.1 Europe 2.2 Japan

3 As a pedagogical tool 4 Forms and styles 4.1 Cause and effect 4.2Classification and division 4.3 Compare and contrast 4.4 Descriptive 4.5 Dialectic 4.6 Exemplification 4.7 History (thesis) 4.8 Narrative 4.9 Critical 4.10 Other logical structures

5 Magazine or newspaper 6 Employment 7 Non-literary types 7.1 Visual Arts 7.2 Music 7.3 Film 7.4 Photography

8 See also 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links


An essay has been defined ina variety of ways. One definition is a "prose composition with a focused subject of discussion" or a "long, systematic discourse". [1]

It is difficult to define the genre into which essays fall. Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject. [2] He notes that "[l]ike the novel, the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything, usually on acertain topic. By tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece, and it is therefore impossible to give all things full play within the limits of a single essay". He points out that "a collection of essays can cover almost as much ground, and cover it almost as thoroughly, as can a long novel"--he gives Montaigne's Third Book as an example. Huxley argues on several occasions that...