What is a contemporary essay and how do I write one?

5 Answers

  1. A contemporary essay is an essay on any contemporary topic,for example, the effects of 9/11 not just on the US but on the world. Is hip/hop/rap a bad influence on today’s young people.

    Why stem cell research should be carried out without political restrictions.

    Things like that , contemporary issues of the day.

    How to write one , well you actually READ magazines, abstracts, plan out your argument, write it out , back up your conclusion, cite your primary sources of information . But I wouldn’t tell your teacher you asked for help on Yahoo answers because that’s not what the assignment was really about .

    Hope that helps.

  2. Contemporary Essays

  3. https://shorturl.im/awmGe

    Suggestion for things you could incorporate in the essay: 1. Definitions of what is contemporary fiction (provide sources of course). This should be part of the intro paragraph or opening of the essay. 2. Look for specific examples of good contemporary fiction. Particularly any example that may have influenced you while writing your story. Mention this in the essay. 3. Discuss some of your personal favorite contemp fiction authors and what appeals to you from their work. Discuss how their work has influenced your writing and your story. 4. Provide your personal opinion on contemporary fiction and writing contemp fiction 5. How does your story fit the above 6. Conclusion

  4. Hope this helps!

  5. Check out, please

Relevant information

The Contemporary Essay

Organisers: Dr Lola Boorman, Ella Barker, Bryony Aitchison, Dr Alexandra Kingston-Reese (Department of English and Related Literature)

In 2017 contemporary essayist Jia Tolentino proclaimed the “personal essay boom” in American literary culture over. But while the essay has seemed ubiquitous in contemporary American literary culture, its status as a major form has remained largely unexplored. While “the essay” may be familiar to readers of The Atlantic or the New Yorker, pinning down what its formal characteristics are—beyond its formal malleability—presents a serious critical challenge.

The Contemporary Essay seeks to address the critical vacuum in the study of the essay and its problems of aesthetic categorisation. What happens when we look at the essay historically? Or try to situate it within national literary traditions? Are the parameters of the personal essay at odds with its political valence in today’s literary landscape? How do contemporary essayists, such as Emilie Pine and Leslie Jamison, reshape a longstanding tradition of cultural criticism in the “program era”? The objectives of this strand are twofold: to stabilise an emergent field and to establish an international, interdisciplinary, and cross-period network of scholars.

If you are interested in joining our network or our programme of events please sign up to our mailing list here and check out our website.

Essayisms Reading Group

The Contemporary’s Essay’s reading group ‘Essayisms’ meets four times per term on Monday evenings at 5pm via Zoom. For each session we will choose an overarching theme and discuss a selection of essays related to this period or subject. We will pay careful attention to how we can historicize the essay or root it in a particular political, institutional or (trans)national culture as well as working together to generate a critical and aesthetic vocabulary for this elusive literary form. For further information or for access to the readings please contact either Ella Barker ([email protected]) or Bryony Aitchison ([email protected]).


Forthcoming Events:

Essayisms Reading Group: Queer Kinship and Collective Essay Writing

Monday 10th May at 5pm


Online via Zoom


Please join us at the next instalment of Essayisms to discuss queer kinship and collective essay writing. This session will focus on two single-authored essays by queer writers, which nevertheless prioritise collective forms of being, and of writing. Syntactically obscure and freewheeling in its frame of reference, Hilton Als articulates a mode of black queer kinship—a “twinship”—that bears no linguistic precedent. Michelle Tea’s essay “Transmissions from Camp Trans” skirts the genre of oral history through her inclusion of scripted dialogue and through the deferral of her authorial voice to other attendants. In a deceptively accessible style, Tea provides an insight into the “protest camp” set up to counter, and with the hopes of changing, the transphobic policies of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

  • “Tristes Tropiques”by Hilton Als from White Girls (2014)—this is a long (if sublime!) essay; if time-pressed, please focus on the opening section (pp11–46)
  • “Transmissions from Camp Trans” by Michelle Tea from Against Memoir (2018)

If you do not have an institutional York account, please contact Ella at

[email protected]

for access to the Google Drive, or for any other queries.



 in advance.


Fact/Fiction: A Workshop on the Essay Film 

Thursday 13 May 2021, 4.30pm


  • Dr Michael Temple, Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and Essay Film Festival 
  • Dr Erica Sheen, Senior Lecturer in Film and Literature, University of York 
  • Sam Kaufman, Doctoral Candidate, Visible Institute at Kingston School of Art 

What happens when the essay moves on screen? How do its formal tensions translate into a visual syntax? Moving between documentary, photography, archive, home movie, performance art, the essay film interrogates the parameters of cinema. As Emily Apter writes, the essay film is a kind of ‘filmed philosophy’ that ‘moves freely from fiction to nonfiction, a neutralizing zone where fiction is unfictionalized.’ But what does this do to our understanding of filmic form and to our experience as viewers? How does the essay film assimilate the formal play of the literary essay? Is this an imported form or one native to cinema, with its origins in the early silent film of the 1910 and 1920s? In this roundtable we’ll discuss the formal, structural and (inter)national dynamics of the essay film. 


Each panelist will give a brief 10 minute paper, followed by a discussion and open Q&A. Before the roundtable please browse the 

Essay Film Festival

 website including its March 2021 programme.  


This research seminar is part of the CModS research strand ‘

The Contemporary Essay


Please register your attendance via this 



Location: Online via Zoom 

Email: [email protected]



Essayisms Reading Group: Coercive Style 

Monday 24 May 2021, 5.00pm

Details and readings to follow. 


Location: Online via Zoom 

Email: [email protected]



Essayisms Reading Group: The Essay’s Political Styles 

Monday 7 June 2021, 5.00pm

Details and readings to follow. 


Location: Online via Zoom 

Email: [email protected]


Previous Events

Monday 12 October 2020: Black History Month: Essayisms Reading Group

Monday 26 October 2020: The Transatlantic Lecture Tour: Essayisms Reading Group




Monday 25 January 2021: Essayisms Reading Group: Ists and Isms




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