Blog #2

February 4, 2019 AndreaP1224

So what is the original understanding of the essay? According to Jeff Porter, the original understanding of the essay was defined by Montaigne. To paraphrase, Montaigne writings were mostly catching the mind in the midst of thinking. He treated the essay as if it was capable of turning the mind inside out. This means that Montaigne achieved writing his thoughts out during a time that expressing your thoughts in an essay was not a thing to do.

Institutionalized essays often want for you to not express your feelings, it does not give you the room to be free. It places you in a box and forces you to go by a list of rules of what an essay “should be” instead of it being a way to explore your thoughts and express them in an articulate and profound manner. As Porter said, “No other genre is as infinitely adaptable as the essay.” (Porter, 1). The essay is adaptable, it is not made to be limited to rules. By an essay being institutionalized, it takes away from the versatility of the overall genre. It almost defeats the purpose of writing in general. The only time I feel restrictions are necessary is when the essay is for a specific topic. However, essay’s overall have a reputation for being restricted to a certain format when essay’s can be written as a form of self expression too, it does not have to be all about “facts” and “research”. Thoughts and feelings can be involved too.

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  • 1. Eunjeong Lee  |  February 4, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Your point about how institutionalized essays defeat the original purpose of self exploration in essay is really interesting. And it is ironic that the very adaptability was taken by the academic system and helped it to turn essay for writing with a very different and specific purpose.

  • 2. Aidan M. Mohan  |  February 4, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    I agree that the imposition of rules upon a form that is supposed to be a representation of the act of thinking will usually restrict the form. However, I think even Porter makes the point that sometimes rules and structure can contribute to a good essay. For example, when someone decides to write an entire essay just about what they’re thinking while doing household chores, an example Porter mentions, that theme or main idea is a rule that they’re following.

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