Warning! This unit contains mature content and may not be suitable for some students. Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Subject details

At the completion of this subject students will:

  1. have gained a broad overview of the range of textual forms constituted by 'the essay' and of discursive and intellectual conjectures between the essay, other major literary genres, and the broader intellectual and cultural contexts of textual production
  2. understand various theoretical approaches to the essay as a literary genre
  3. be able to critically analyse the textual and discursive strategies utilised in the essay form in its various modes of address: for example, as provisional and exploratory prose, as reflective and contemplative writing, as persuasive and often polemical argument, or as detailed and precise description
  4. be able to critically examine the uses of the essay as textual practice with particular reference to literary, artistic, cultural and ideological issues
  5. demonstrate a highly developed capacity for rigorous and independent thinking and advanced research and communication skills shown through reasoned, well-informed argument in written work and class discussion and participation
  6. be able to synthesise knowledge and skills, critically analyse arguments, compare different points of view and assemble information to develop an independent argument
  7. demonstrate more highly developed textual analysis skills shown through written analyses of and responses to set texts
  8. be aware of the requirements of scholarship, especially in terms of academic honesty demonstrated through the appropriate, accurate and honest use of other scholars' work.
  • Topics

    • Introduction: the essay as genre
    • Early essayists
    • The eighteenth-century essay
    • The essay and debates about literature
    • Travel essays
    • Food Writing
    • The Personal Essay
    • Imagination and Fantasy
    • Politics and Ideology
    • Contemporary Feminism
    • Environmentalism
    • The nineteenth century essay
  • Study resources

    • Instructional Methods

      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
    • Online Materials

      • Resources and Links

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • MAQ-ENG390


ENGX389 Is a capstone subject that ties all previous English subjects together and must be the last subject taken for this field of study.

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject was previously known as ENG390 Textual Practices - Capstone Subject

Throughout the early modern, modern and post-modern periods, the literary essay has developed alongside and in dialogue with other major genres of writing - most notably the novel, drama, poetry, literary and cultural criticism. Students will read, critically analyse and write a range of essays across various subject areas - such as literature, art, music, film and politics. However, the critical focus of the subject is on the essay as textual practice: its generic affiliations, stylistic and discursive characteristics, ideological assumptions and agendas and its role and impact within culture in general.

  • Essay (50%)
  • Online Discussion (10%)
  • Paper (30%)
  • Presentation (10%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject.

View textbooks

Related Degrees

undergraduate MAQ-ART-DEG-2018

Bachelor of Arts

  • Major in Ancient History
  • Major in English
  • Major in Modern History
  • Major in Philosophy
  • Major in Politics
  • Major in Society and Culture
  • Major in Sociology