The essay is the most personal of the three thesis genres, and the one that places the greatest demands on your knowledge of the subject – which is always English – and your attitude towards it. It is the genre where you can express your personal attitude, but also the one where you most easily fall through if you know too little about the topic or if your attitude is too narrow and nuanced.
In the essay, you should not argue for an attitude or try to convince anyone – but you must search a field, wonder, and qualify your wonder for ever greater wonder.
In the essay, do not analyze and interpret the starting text, but relate to its statements about what is the topic of the essay. So you must have understood the text, but the work with it is prior to the essay and should not be a theme in it – contrary to the chronicle and the literary article.
In the essay, you must relate personally, but not privately, to the topic that the starting text opens. It limits how close you can go to yourself and your surroundings in the essay. The personal gives the engagement, while the private shuts off the abstraction and the lift towards the general that the essay should contain.
Contrary to popular belief, the essay is not the easiest genre
The recipe for the good essay is pretty much like this. The good essay:
- meets the requirements and directions of the assignment
- investigating, reflecting
- has topic focus
- has an overview of the material
- is based on the material
- utilizes the material in its reflections
- involves the writer’s own considerations and possibly other substance
- round off in an opening where the reader can continue the reflections
As the author of the essay, you are writing partly to unfold the thought for yourself and hopefully move towards greater clarity, and partly to invite the reader to join the journey.
The essay should contain 3 main sections – which you may well subdivide for the sake of making, but the reader should have a clear sense of when you move from main section to main section. You do not need to make subheadings, but you can easily make an extra line break between the main sections if you think it clarifies the structure.
“Essay” means “attempt” (French) and is used to express a line of thought, a reflection – to think aloud (here on the paper).
An essay should open up insight and recognition, both to the sender and to the reader
- The essay is personal and open to the reader to think about.
- The essay mixes the general with the concrete and therefore contains both personal experiences and concrete examples as more general considerations.
- An essayist must, so to speak, “think aloud” through the language. The essay thus becomes at once a personal expression, a study and a linguistic process that opens up insight and recognition.
- An essay must therefore contain both description, claims, arguments, assessment and summary as well as possibly a perspective.
- In addition, the essay must be sharply focused, it must mean something and therefore a prerequisite for a good essay is that the writer has something at heart.
You can download a form for processing in the right column. This is where you can start writing.
Use the assignment title as the title of your essay – unless you are actually asked to come up with a title yourself.
The introduction presents the topic and aims to make it present and interesting to the reader from the start. Often, one will choose to give a concrete example of what one wonders in the rest of the essay. As in the rest of the essay, the example should be personal but not private. For example, an essay on clichés in the arts could start with wondering about a sculpture by Jeff Koons that you just saw. – Or over a movie you’ve just seen, where the hero eventually disappears into the evening sun.
You can make a classic funnel introduction, such as
Most of us know a cliche when we see it. Or hear it. Most of us are prepared to mock the cliche, and even more so its originator, so why is it that we really love them so much that we read the same kiosk baskets with different titles, why do we see the subsequent ever thinner boil on an original good movie, and why bother listening to one song after another where the heart rhymes with pain?
- Start with a concrete example and wonder about it.
- Be sure to awaken the reader’s curiosity from the start.
- Avoid Meta Languages: Never Start In This Task…
- Main body
Here you continue the line from your introduction and open it towards the study you want to conduct in the essay. You can do this, for example, by presenting the text you want to start with. You can also present it later, but you will get a clearer structure in your essay by presenting it here – so consider it.
The presentation of the text is sharply angled: you should not analyze or interpret it, but emphasize what it is you want to work on in it. Remember to enter the text information: title, author, source.
Ex: Some of the same thoughts NN has made in … where he speaks for the view that …
Now you are ready to explore, consider, reflect on the topic of the essay in a mix of concrete examples and abstract reflections. Write so the reader can see the examples for themselves!
Your reflections should contain academic elements (eg knowledge of period, genre codes, language, etc.) and preferably knowledge from other subjects and areas.
Your language tone may be personal – but must also be understood and accepted by your reader.
Your approach to the subject must be characterized by (structured) thinking: you must keep the door open for new angles and ways of seeing.
Use the text material for something – it’s not enough to mention it
Feel free to write pictures
- Please write in person (but be aware of your language tone and your choice of words)
- Use indistinct markers, such as if, maybe, shown, safe, possibly, probably, probably, well too, some kind, closest, possibly, etc.
- Use rhetorical questions (by the way!
- Avoid going private
- Avoid getting flat
The rounding must be open and not conclusive. That is, it must pick up on the reflections, emphasize the lines of the study, and keep the door open for further reflection.