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What’s an Essay: Approaches and Thoughts

learning educationSince the very moment in the XVI century, when Montaigne adopted the “essay” term, students in all parts of the globe have been dealing with this kind of academic writing. According to the words of Aldous Huxley, the essay is not more than just “one damned thing after the other”. In case you’re not passionate about writing and your prose is better than kick in the teeth, you will most probably agree with such a sharp definition. The word “essay” is derived from the infinitive taken from the French language – “essayer” that means “to attempt”, “to try”.

According to the historical documents, the Age of Enlightenment was the most favorable for the essay since exactly at that time they were the most favored tool among the polemicists, who exerted every effort in order to take readers to their side. What is more, the essays also featured heavily in the epoch of periodical literature rise, as we can see in multiple works of Samuel Johnson, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele.

To speak the modern language, the essay is a short non-fiction story that has something from an article (read primarily for the information that it includes) and a story, where the very pleasure of the reading process is usually more important that the text information.

While brevity is one of the key features of a typical essay, voluminous works like “An Essay on the Principle of Population” written by Thomas Malthus and “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” created by John Locke prove that it is not a typical rule for an essay to be brief.

For some countries (for example, for Canada or United States of America), the essay has become a crucial part of an educational process. For instance, all secondary students are taught structured formats of the academic essays in order to take the writing skills to the next level. As a rule, potential students are required to generate college and university admission essays in order to get accepted to the higher educational establishment, while in some social sciences and humanities, the essays are considered one of the best methods to evaluate the level of the students knowledge.

In contrast to the previous years, the concept of the term “essay” has been notably extended to the other areas that are far from writing. For example, nowadays one may deal with the so-called “film essay” – a special movie that comprises the styles of the documentary film making as well as concentrates more on the evolution of an idea or a theme. As for the “photographic essay”, in this case the question is about an attempt of an individual to cover an assigned topic with a range of photos. As a rule, the photographs are attached with some captions or accompanying text.

The popularity of the topics depends on the current problems the society faces with. Teens abortions, HIVs, globalization, global crisis, same sex marriages, global warming – these are the issues that can be traced in academic projects of all levels.

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