The Power of the Personal Essay For Persuading People in Blogs, Columns, and Admission Applications

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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9 Lessons (47m)
    • 1. Welcome to the Course!

    • 2. Introduction to the Personal Essay Genre

    • 3. Specificity and Structure

    • 4. Writer As Cultural Observer

    • 5. Writer As Activist

    • 6. Three Rhetorical Elements in Effective Personal Essays

    • 7. Personal Essays and the Truth

    • 8. Argumentative Fallacies that Make People Look Stupid

    • 9. How to Write School Admissions Personal Essay


About This Class

Blog posts, newspaper columns, and admission applications can often be quite lifeless, abstract, vague and thus ineffective in persuading anyone about anything

Yet great changes in people's thinking and behavior can occur with persuasion done right, particularly in writing. 

If you want to change people's opinions in the online public sphere and get them to act in new ways, you must include rhetorical elements and take on approaches that I describe in detail in this course. 

Incorporate those elements in the personal essay – and avoid logical problems listed in the lectures – and you can make your writing more powerful

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How a personal essay is nothing like an academic school paper;
  • The roles of Cultural Observer and Activist common to almost all personal essays;
  • Three rhetorical devices that – when combined – can influence people profoundly;
  • Ways to identify and remove logical problems from your arguments;
  • How to see and break down false assumptions in your opponent’s arguments; and,
  • The basics of an admissions essay.

This course is useful for anyone looking to improve the impact of his or her writing, particularly on the Internet.