Essays & Speeches

These study guides analyze powerful words that have shaped and reflected some of the most influential moments in history. Perfect for exploring the power and craft of rhetoric, this collection covers Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments, among many others.

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Ancient Greece

Plato’s Republic takes the form of a series of dialogues between the first-person narrator (Socrates, Plato's teacher) and various real-life figures. “The Allegory of the Cave,” perhaps the most well-known section of The Republic, takes place as a conversation between Socrates and Plato’s brother, Glaucon. In this section, Socrates attempts to illustrate a point about how one can gain knowledge and wisdom and “perceive [...] the Essential Form of Goodness” (paragraph 31, line 10), via... Read Allegory Of The Cave Summary

Publication year 1922Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Immigration / Refugee

Anzia Yezierska introduces her immigration story by outlining why she came to America—to find hope, romance, and freedom to express herself. When she arrives, she says her body is strong and her “heart and soul pregnant with the unlived lives of generations clamoring for expression” (Paragraph 4). This is not to be, at least immediately. She needs money but cannot find work in factories, so her only options are to work in a kitchen or... Read America and I Summary

Publication year 1899Genre Essay / Speech, Nonfiction

Elbert Hubbard’s essay “A Message to Garcia” tells of the heroic journey of an Army soldier who must deliver a letter to a freedom fighter, and of the need for a similar spirit of determination in the workplace. The work first appeared as a magazine article in 1899 and became a pamphlet and book that reached millions of readers. “Carry a message to Garcia” (3) was a commonly used phrase in America during the first... Read A Message to Garcia Summary

Publication year 1838Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: ColonialismTags Religion / Spirituality

“A Modell of Christian Charity” is a sermon written by John Winthrop, a Puritan lawyer who served as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, an English colonial settlement around present-day Boston, and the second settlement in New England. A sermon is a speech on a religious subject, usually used for those delivered by clergy in Christian church services. The sermon’s epigraph (a short, introductory quotation or informational text) tells us Winthrop wrote on... Read A Model of Christian Charity Summary

Publication year 1995Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Identity: Disability, Identity: Mental HealthTags Health / Medicine, Science / Nature

Publication year 1644Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Philosophy

As an epigram, Milton quotes Euripides, who wrote: “This is true liberty, when free-born men, having the advise the public, may speak free, which he who can, and will, deserves high praise; who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace; what can be juster in a state than this?” (337). Milton explains that addressing Parliament in the name of the “public good” (337) is no small feat and that any person in this position... Read Areopagitica Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Society: EducationTags Realistic Fiction, Arts / Culture, Education, Russian Literature

Publication year 2012Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: EducationTags Education

“Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education,” Second Edition (2018) is an essay by Matthew L Sanders, who wrote it with incoming college freshman in mind. Its goal is to change the perspective that higher education prepares students for a profitable career. Instead, it teaches students to become learners.In the Introduction, Sanders writes: “The hardest thing for you to know is the thing you think you already know” (xi). Many people think they know... Read Becoming a Learner Summary

Publication year 2022Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Mental HealthTags Psychology, Self Help

Publication year 1941Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags History: European, Politics / Government

Publication year 2008Genre Book, NonfictionTags Business / Economics, Psychology, Science / Nature, Self Help, Education

Publication year 1849Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Transcendentalism, Politics / Government

Henry David Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” more commonly known as “Civil Disobedience,” originated as a Concord Lyceum lecture given in January 1848 as the Mexican-American War was winding down. The essay and its central thesis—that following one’s conscience trumps the need to follow the law—have profoundly impacted global history, political philosophy, and American thought, notably influencing both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.The text was originally published in an 1849 essay... Read Civil Disobedience Summary

Publication year 1776Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Politics / Government, American Revolution

The all-time bestselling published work in America, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense helped ignite a revolution that changed the world. Released in January 1776, the pamphlet condemned the arbitrary rule of Britain’s King George III and his Parliament, and it urged colonists to rise up against their oppressors and replace colonial rule with a democratic republic of free and equal citizens. Common Sense helped inspire rebel leaders to declare American independence six months later. An e-book... Read Common Sense Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Parenting, Social Justice, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year 1848Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Politics / Government, Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Ancient Greece

The philosopher Socrates and a man named Euthyphro meet at the court of a magistrate in charge of religious law. They discover that they both have cases to plead there. Socrates explains that he has been accused by a young man named Meletus of corrupting the youth of Athens by questioning the traditional beliefs about the gods and introducing new gods. Euthyphro says that he, too, has received similar accusations before, and that the thing... Read Euthyphro Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Existentialism, French Literature

In “Existentialism is a Humanism” (1945), French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre attempts to convince an audience of philosophers and laypeople alike that his philosophy is neither pessimistic, nor relativist, nor quietist, nor subjectivist in the sense of presenting human beings as isolated individuals. He begins by elaborating Christians’ and Marxists’ criticisms of his ideas, then attempts to respond to each. In doing so, he focuses on the key formulation of existentialism, “existence precedes essence.” Then... Read Existentialism is a Humanism Summary

Publication year 1972Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: GlobalizationTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Finance / Money / Wealth

Publication year 1863Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags History: U.S., American Civil War

Publication year 2000Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: EducationTags Diversity, LGBTQ, Love / Sexuality, Relationships, Social Justice, Sports

Publication year 1928Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Harlem Renaissance, Creative Nonfiction

This guide is based on the electronic version of Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” available at the University of Virginia’s Mules and Men website. The original essay was published in the May 1928 edition ofThe World Tomorrow. Hurston’s essay is her explanation of how she experiences being African-American.Hurston opens the essay with the comment that she is “a Negro” and unlike many African-Americans claims no Native American ancestry. Prior to... Read How It Feels To Be Colored Me Summary

Publication year 1973Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: The FutureTags Race / Racism, Civil Rights / Jim Crow

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream'' speech is one of the most celebrated oratory pieces in American history. King delivered the speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963 as the final speech of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Ruston organized the march to advocate for civil and economic rights for Black Americans, which was among the... Read I Have A Dream Speech Summary

Publication year 1958Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Business / Economics, Philosophy, Politics / Government

The essay “I, Pencil,” also known as “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read,” was first published by the American businessman and libertarian advocate Leonard E. Read in 1958. The essay first appeared in The Freeman, a publication of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEE), a think-tank he co-founded in 1946. Read was a staunch critic of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” an ambitious series of government policies and... Read I, Pencil Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Politics / Government, Military / War, History: European

Publication year 2008Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Sociology

The essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” was written by Nicholas Carr. It was originally published in The Atlantic’s July/August 2008 issue. The essay stirred much debate, and in 2010, Carr published an extended version of the essay in book form, entitled The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. The essay begins and ends with an allusion to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the initial allusion, Carr summarizes... Read Is Google Making Us Stupid? Summary

Publication year 1968Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: courageTags Politics / Government, Race / Racism, History: U.S., Social Justice, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1963Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Sociology, African American Literature

This guide is based on the revised version of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," published as the fifth essay in Why We Can't Wait (1964).King's letter is a response to another open letter, "A Call for Unity," published in The Birmingham News and collectively authored by eight Alabama clergymen who argued that the protests were not an appropriate response to conditions in Birmingham.King opens the letter by explaining that he is responding... Read Letter From Birmingham Jail Summary

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Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Philosophy, Education, Politics / Government, Science / Nature, Ancient Greece

One of the founding documents of Western philosophy, Plato’s Meno recounts a dialog on the nature of virtue between Socrates and his pupil Meno, a rising star among the leaders of ancient Greece. They discuss how virtue can be recognized, where it comes from, and whether it can be taught.Meno takes place in 402 BCE in Athens; Plato, Socrates’s most famous student, in 385 BCE wrote down his recollection of the conversation. It offers a... Read Meno Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Asian Literature, Chinese Literature

“Mother Tongue” explores Amy Tan’s relationship with the English language, her mother, and writing. This nonfiction narrative essay was originally given as a talk during the 1989 State of the Language Symposium; it was later published by The Threepenny Review in 1990. Since then, “Mother Tongue” has been anthologized countless times and won notable awards and honors, including being selected for the 1991 edition of Best American Essays.The original publication of “Mother Tongue,” which this... Read Mother Tongue Summary

Publication year 1836Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Philosophy, Science / Nature, American Literature, Transcendentalism

Publication year 1961Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Sexuality, Society: Nation, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, History: U.S., Politics / Government, Social Justice

Publication year 1941Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Natural World: Environment

“Once More to the Lake” is a narrative non-fiction essay written by E.B. White. The essay was originally published in Harper’s Magazine in 1941. White (1899-1985) was an American author best known for his children’s novels, including Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, as well as his contribution as co-author to The Elements of Style, a seminal English-language writing guide. “Once More to the Lake” recounts White’s experience of revisiting, as an adult, a lakefront camp... Read Once More to the Lake Summary

Publication year 1859Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Society: Politics & Government, Society: NationTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Arts / Culture, History: European, British Literature, Victorian Period

On Liberty is a philosophical essay on ethics, society, and politics published in 1859 by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill. His work on the subject matter extended back several years, through an illustrious career as a politician and philosopher. Mill’s ideas center on the concept of utilitarianism, which emphasizes efficiency and collective well-being. The book remains in print in the 21st century.SummaryOn Liberty is divided into five chapters: an introduction; “On the liberty of... Read On Liberty Summary

Publication year 1496Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Renaissance

One of the most important representatives of Renaissance philosophy, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man (De hominis dignitate) was presented as a public discourse in 1486 but never published in his lifetime; Pico died in 1494, two years before its initial publication.In his oration, Pico investigates mankind, finding that pure reason is the highest level that man can reach. Alone among creatures, man has a part of every other creature. This... Read Oration on the Dignity of Man Summary

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Ancient Greece

One of the founding documents of Western philosophy, Plato’s dialog Phaedo sets forth some of the most important beliefs of Socrates, who shares these ideas with his disciples just before he is executed in ancient Athens. Phaedo is one of Plato’s most widely read works, second only to his Republic and Symposium. It ponders the nature of the human soul and the possibility of an afterlife.A well-known English translation by Benjamin Jowett is widely available... Read Phaedo Summary

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Ancient Greece

Phaedrus is a dialogue written by Plato around 370 BC. It details a conversation between two characters, Phaedrus and Socrates. As with other dialogues by Plato, the characters are historical, but the conversation is not. The two encounter each other the morning after Phaedrus has heard Lysias, a prominent Athenian and famous orator, give a speech arguing against love. A man not in love, Lysias argues, is to be favored over one who is in... Read Phaedrus Summary

Publication year 1992Genre Essay / Speech, Nonfiction

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination is an adaptation of three lectures that Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison delivered at the Massey Lectures at Harvard University in 1990. She turned the three-part series into a 91-page book, published in 1992 by Harvard University Press. The lectures concern issues of race in American literature and the ways that writers actively construct whiteness and blackness within literature.  Morrison examines the claim that works in... Read Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Summary

Publication year 1907Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Psychology, American Literature, Religion / Spirituality, Science / Nature

Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (1907) is a philosophical work by the American philosopher and psychologist William James. It consists of eight lectures originally delivered at the Lowell Institute in Boston and at Columbia University in New York. James is closely associated with the philosophy of pragmatism, originally formulated by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, and this book is considered the major statement of the ideas and principles of... Read Pragmatism Summary

Publication year 1790Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags History: European

Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, first published in 1790, is written as a letter to a French friend of Burke’s family, Charles-Jean-François Depont, who requests Burke’s opinion of the French Revolution to date. Burke is a well-connected politician and political theorist of the late eighteenth century, though this tract would become his first significant work on the subject. In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke speaks at length on the development... Read Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary

Publication year 2003Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Sociology

Regarding the Pain of Others is a book-length essay by Susan Sontag published in 2003. Sontag initially addresses a question posed to writer and anti-war activist Virginia Woolf: “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” but then, deducing that war is perennial, Sontag uses the remainder of her book to examine the relation between photography and feelings and ideas about war. She insists on discussing specific wars and specific photographers because each work... Read Regarding the Pain of Others Summary

Publication year 1689Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Politics / Government, Philosophy, Age of Enlightenment

The Second Treatise of Government is a philosophical text written by Enlightenment thinker and “Father of Liberalism” John Locke in 1689. When the treatise was published in the late 17th century, England was in a state of political unrest. King William III and Queen Mary II were in power, as monarch King James II had been deposed two years earlier. This period of history is known as the Glorious Revolution, and it followed years of... Read Second Treatise of Government Summary

Publication year 1841Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Transcendentalism

“Self-Reliance” is one of the most famous and representative works of the transcendentalist philosopher/author Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalism was a literary and philosophical movement of the early- and mid-19th century in the United States. Transcendentalist works stress the purity and goodness of individualism and community with nature, especially over the corruption and conformity of human society and institutions. This essay, published in 1841, is an exploration of self-reliance, or self-sufficiency, as a virtue. Emerson emphasizes... Read Self Reliance Summary

Publication year 1968Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Arts / Culture, History: U.S., American Literature, Vietnam War

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is Joan Didion’s 1968 collection of essays that document her experiences living in California from 1961 to 1967. It is her first collection of nonfiction (many of the pieces originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post) and is hailed as a seminal document of culture and counterculture in 1960s California. Didion’s style was part of what Tom Wolfe called “New Journalism,” which emphasized the search for meaning over the reporting of facts... Read Slouching Towards Bethlehem Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Social Justice, Politics / Government, History: U.S., African American Literature

Publication year 2007Genre Collection of Letters, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Femininity, Self Discovery, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Society: ColonialismTags Race / Racism, Education, Gender / Feminism, Politics / Government, Leadership/Organization/Management

Publication year 1837Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Transcendentalism, History: U.S.

“The American Scholar” is a lecture by Ralph Waldo Emerson, transposed into an essay. The occasion for the lecture was an address that Emerson gave to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, on August 31, 1837.The subject of the lecture is the role of the American intellectual, as distinct from the European intellectual. Emerson calls for an intellectualism that is engaged, optimistic, and forward-thinking. He believes that American scholars have been overly dependent on... Read The American Scholar Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Mental HealthTags Inspirational, Science / Nature, History: World, Health / Medicine, Climate Change, Relationships, Sociology

Publication year 1964Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism

“The Ballot or the Bullet” is a speech that Malcolm X first delivered at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 3, 1964. He also delivered the speech about a week later in Detroit, Michigan, on April 12, 1964. This guide is based on the latter version of this speech.Malcolm speaks from a personal perspective. He starts by declaring himself a Muslim and by crediting Elijah Muhammad with making him into the man he... Read The Ballot or the Bullet Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, published the essay “The Case for Reparations” in that magazine’s June 2014 issue. It was widely acclaimed and, according to the Washington Post, set a record at the time for the most-viewed article in a single day on The Atlantic website. The essay earned Coates a George Polk Award for commentary in 2014.In the essay, Coates examines the idea of the United States government paying reparations to... Read The Case for Reparations Summary

Publication year 2009Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Gender / Feminism, Arts / Culture, Diversity, Education, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year 1942Genre Essay / Speech, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Environment, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Grief / Death, Animals

Publication year 2014Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Identity: Mental HealthTags Health / Medicine, Psychology, Relationships, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Addiction / Substance Abuse

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison is a collection of nonfiction essays that are connected thematically by pain and caring. Jamison uses a combination of personal experiences and journalistic approaches to ponder essential questions about both physical and emotional wounds, tenderness, and how people connect through pain. First published in April 2014, this collection premiered at #11 on the New York Times bestseller list and has received considerable acclaim from reviewers across the world... Read The Empathy Exams Summary

Publication year 1889Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics

Andrew Carnegie wrote “The Gospel of Wealth” in June 1889. Carnegie begins his treatise by identifying what he sees as the most significant problem of modern-day times: “the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship” (1).Carnegie mentions that, in the past, “there was little difference” (1) between the living situations of a leader of a community and those of the members... Read The Gospel Of Wealth Summary

Publication year 1843Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Relationships: MothersTags Sociology, Transcendentalism

“The Great Lawsuit” is an essay by Margaret Fuller, an American writer known for her contributions to transcendentalism and the women’s rights movement of the 1800s. It was first published in 1843 in The Dial, a journal she edited at the time. Fuller expanded the piece to create Woman in the Nineteenth Century, a book published in 1845.An early example of feminist writing and a vehicle for transcendentalist ideas, “The Great Lawsuit” centers on concepts... Read The Great Lawsuit Summary

Publication year 2008Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Philosophy

The Last Lecture, published in 2008, is a best-selling memoir that repurposes the final lecture delivered by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The book, which was co-authored with Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffery Zaslow, fleshes out Pausch’s lecture, delving into the background behind the speech and detailing the months after its delivery, ultimately becoming a record of Pausch’s life. He admits that “under the ruse of giving an academic lecture... Read The Last Lecture Summary

Publication year 1942Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Depression / Suicide, Religion / Spirituality, Absurdism, French Literature

One of the monuments of 20th-century philosophy, The Myth of Sisyphus, by Nobel Prize-winning author Albert Camus, delves deeply into the emptiness of life and how to cope with it. Published in France in 1942, during the darkest days of World War II, the book resonated strongly with French readers and soon had a worldwide following. The 2018 edition of the 1955 English translation by Justin O’Brien forms the basis for this study guide.The book’s... Read The Myth of Sisyphus Summary

Publication year 1999Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy, Social Justice, Poverty, Business / Economics

Philosopher Peter Singer, known for his uncompromising commitment to utilitarian principles, published his opinion editorial “The Singer Solution to World Poverty” in The New York Times Magazine on 5 September 1999. In the essay, Singer argues that the inhabitants of affluent countries have a moral obligation to donate a significant portion of their wealth to charities that can save lives around the world.Singer begins by describing a situation from the 1998 Brazilian film Central Station... Read The Singer Solution to World Poverty Summary

Publication year 1919Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Psychology

The Uncanny, published in 1919, is one of the most famous of Sigmund Freud’s essays. This is not only because many of his most foundational ideas had their genesis here but because the essay pertains to aesthetics and popular culture, making it both accessible and gripping for a broad readership. The Uncanny is a good example of Freud’s predilection for drawing on aesthetics to support his arguments, and thus a useful introduction to the ideas... Read The Uncanny Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Creative Nonfiction, Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Politics / Government, African American Literature, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Thick: And Other Essays (2019) is a collection of personal essays that explore race, gender, and class in the US. McMillan Cottom is a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an influential public intellectual whose writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Thick situates McMillan Cottom’s personal experiences within sociological and structural analysis to link her experiences to... Read Thick: And Other Essays Summary

Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: Race, Society: ClassTags Gender / Feminism, Creative Nonfiction, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, is a feminist literary collection of essays, prose, poems, and transcripts on the experiences of women of color and Third World women, in a mainly United States context. While many of the contributors may have been lesser-known beforehand, this anthology has become a foundational text in feminist theory. Originally published in 1981, it set precedence by delving... Read This Bridge Called My Back Summary

Publication year 1938Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags The Bloomsbury Group

Three Guineas is a book-length essay structured as a letter from Virginia Woolf to an unnamed correspondent who has asked her for help with his efforts to “prevent war” (3). Three years after receiving the letter, and amidst the rise of fascism across Europe, Woolf has finally decided to respond. As a pacifist, she feels compelled to find a way to prevent another World War, though she is perturbed by the correspondent’s ideas, which ignore... Read Three Guineas Summary

Publication year 1861Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy

“Utilitarianism” is a philosophical essay written by English philosopher John Stuart Mill in 1863. In this long essay, Mill seeks to provide a definition for the moral philosophy of utilitarianism, which was originally developed by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. As a philosophy, utilitarianism argues that a desire for happiness lies at the heart of all moral considerations. Mill’s essay expanded on the philosophical ideas initially proposed by Bentham and specifically sought to respond to common... Read Utilitarianism Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Arts / Culture, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Laura Mulvey’s essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” originally appeared in the autumn 1975 issue of the British film journal, Screen. This study guide refers to the reprint of the essay included in Mulvey’s book Visual and Other Pleasures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition 2009).Part 1: “Introduction”In the “Introduction” to her 1975 essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey announces her agenda: to appropriate psychoanalytic theory “as a political weapon” to expose how “the unconscious... Read Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema Summary

Publication year 1852Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Race / Racism, History: U.S., Politics / Government, American Civil War

In “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”, otherwise known as “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” Frederick Douglass outlines a careful argument against the institution of slavery and more specifically the Fugitive Slave Act. Weaving together ethical, religious, and sociopolitical threads of argument, Douglass points out the ironies of American values, particularly regarding the existence of an economic system based on slavery. Originally drafted and given as a speech in... Read What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Science / Nature

Publication year 2020Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: ClassTags Humor, LGBTQ, Diversity, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality

Publication year 1975Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: EducationTags American Literature, Self Help, Education