The Essay

Richard E. Miller
The Essay: 353:491

First Essay Assignment: On Error

I have been teaching for nearly twenty years, but this is the first time I am handing out a writing assignment that isn't linked to an assigned reading. The school of writing theory I have been trained in is distinguished by its insistence on the interconnectedness of the act of reading and the act of writing. I have been taught–and I have taught others for as long as I have been in the classroom–that writing and reading happen together. Was this teaching in error?

I would like for you to write an essay on an instance from your life when you made either an intellectual error or an error about beauty. You may draw on any resources you have at your disposal to write this essay: memories, conversations, texts, visual experiences. But please don't read ahead in Elaine Scarry's On Beauty: first you'll write and then we'll read.

Your essay, which should be no less than fives pages long, is due on Thursday, September 11th at the beginning of class.

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