Reading Journal by Robert Atwan

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Reading Journal 1

Robert Atwan criticizes a number of characteristics of the modern essay and offers his own vision of what the essay should be. What do you agree/disagree with about Atwan’s criticism? What in your view makes an effective worthwhile essay?

Robert Atwan observes that nowadays, essays are most of the time about ourselves. Further stating that textured and original description is missing as well as ideas and reflection. The author states that before the 1950’s, essays were written on certain topics and these were a part of the artistic genre of a student or essayist. When you choose a topic, there is the possibility that the topic can develop into some other idea. Currently, student authors become subservient to the topic without deviating from that topic and branching out to explore new developmental paths. Students or essayists might think writing about a topic is impersonal and I agree with Robert Atwan when he states, “Ruminating on a topic doesn’t mean that the writing will be impersonal.” I agree with Robert Atwan’s next point that essays nowadays are based less on a topic and more on something personal. We tend to write about personal experiences because of how knowledgeable we are in regard to our own lives while leaving the topic driven essays to “experts” by whom we are intimidated. “Why try to compete with experts on a topic, to engage in difficult and often tedious research, when one is already an expert on one’s life?” In my view, an effective worthwhile essay consists of getting the reader’s attention, clearly expressing my ideas, and constructing an organized structure to follow. An effective essay has a logical flow of ideas and is complete. “Essays can be lots of things, maybe too many things, but at the core of the genre is an unmistakable receptivity to the ever-shifting processes of our minds and moods. If there is any essential characteristic we can attribute to the essay, it may be this: that the truest examples of the...
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