Deadline Extended - The Essay Today: A Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
November 22, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Philip Coleman & Jurrit Daalder / Trinity College Dublin
contact email: 

*Deadline Extended*

The Essay Today: A Symposium

 Call for Papers


Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


25-26 March 2020


In May 2017, The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino claimed that the “Personal-Essay Boom” is over. Three years later, however, it seems the personal essay hasn’t lost any of its popularity—and it looks like it isn’t going to anytime soon. In Ireland a number of celebrated collections of essays have appeared in the last few years—most notably by Kevin Breathnach, Sinéad Gleeson, Ian Maleney, and Emilie Pine—while the London Review of Books bookshop held an event in June 2019 on what they termed “the New Essay.”

This symposium, organized by Dr. Philip Coleman and Dr. Jurrit Daalder in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, aims to bring together academics, scholars, early-career researchers and students from a range of backgrounds to examine the essay’s popularity (or decline) in order to situate it within a much broader and more culturally diverse history of the form. The essay has long been neglected on a theoretical level. For this reason, a key aim of this symposium will be to begin developing what might be called a poetics of the essay. In developing such a poetics, the organisers are especially interested in papers that move beyond oft-cited definitions of the essay—its flexibility and mutability, self-doubt, and anti-totalizing tendencies—to arrive at fresh new insights into the form and its literary histories.


Suggested topics for 20-minute papers include, but are not limited to:


  • The poetics of the essay
  • Theories of the essay form
  • Histories and traditions of the essay
  • The contemporary essay
  • Intertextuality and the essay
  • The literary essay and the book review
  • Gender and the essay
  • Race and the essay
  • Memoir, autobiography and the essay
  • The Anglophone essay and its relation to other national traditions
  • Affect and the essay
  • The essayistic voice
  • Relations between different essayistic genres (travel writing, criticism, life writing etc.)
  • The institutionalization of the essay
  • The essay and the nation: reading essays in and across national contexts


Keynote speaker:

Professor Phillip Lopate (Columbia University)


Important dates:

Please submit a brief 300-word abstract along with contact details and a short biographical note to by 22 November 2019. Confirmation of acceptance will be sent out no later than 1 December 2019.