Becoming a Great Essayist

By Jennifer Cognard-Black
Chantilly, VA: The Great Courses, 2016

If you have a clever anecdote, an interesting memory, a new way to explain how something works, or an opinion on a social or political issue, then you have an essay in you.  Discover the keys to unlocking your potential in essay writing with "Becoming a Great Essayist."

These 24 illuminating lectures explore numerous genres or types of essays, challenge you with stimulating writing prompts, and provide insights into how to get to know yourself like never before so that you may write honest, compelling, and great essays that people will read.  Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black, Professor of English at St. Mary's College of Maryland, is your expert guide.  Professor Cognard-Black--who is an award-winning author, a 2012 Fulbright Scholar, and a former student of the renowned author Jane Smiley--has an intimate, honest, and direct approach.  She teaches you that the versatility and expressiveness of the essay make it an ideal medium for crafting stories and drawing perspectives out of even the most reluctant writers.

— Advertisement in New York Times Review of Books

The course was exactly what I needed. It is outstanding in every way. Not only have Professor Cognard-Black’s classes inspired me to work harder on my current essay; she has also stimulated my interest in writing about other subjects (such as recipes) or in other modes (such as the epistolary). The professor is enthusiastic, smart, and extremely knowledgeable. I listened to every lecture at least twice, learning more each time. Thank you for making this course available.
— Dr. Martha Grace from Atlanta, Georgia
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The content, examples, and approach helped me to refine my current essay and explore ideas for future work. Dr. Cognard-Black was excellent. I learned a great deal and appreciated her style, which was inviting, insightful, and encouraging.
— Rocky Mountain Quill from Denver, Colorado
I have completed several Great Courses lectures, and this is one of my favorites. Jennifer Cognard-Black is truly an inspiring teacher. I especially appreciated the way she used her own drafts and her students’ work as accessible examples. She provided many good historical examples and led me to additional resources as well. She even made topics I was not excited about initially (such as writing about recipes) exciting. I plan to use some of the ideas I learned in the class in my advanced composition class this fall.
— English Professor from Storm Lake, Iowa