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How the Personal Essay Helps Us Find Freedom

April 4, 2023 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm BST

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Can personal essays help us find autonomy in this crowded world? Join Crystal Duan and Irene JK to discuss the art of the personal essay, creative autonomy, the journey of writing, and looking within ourselves.

Personal essays have evolved over the past decades. However, there is an invisible ambivalence attached to the genre. It thrives beyond the fields of the literary soiree. It shines from afar like the evening star in the galaxy that revolves around fiction. At times, it adorns a Kafkaesque reputation, yet it comes alive only with genuine emotions. 

So what is a good personal essay? Is it a mere confessional journal or an artifice of personal thoughts that lead to the inner landscapes of human flourishing? Or is it an embodiment of ideas/questions/conflicts strung on a string of narratives? 

Joan Didion wrote: “Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

Essay writers of this genre are personal dialecticians. These essays form an integral part of the literary ethos, from finding missing pieces of their inner quagmires to lending their voices to topical, cultural and moral challenges; the genre is a vast ocean by itself.

In the current world of technological abundance, shifting geopolitics, and warring overlords on the internet, isn’t it more important than ever to bring forth these stories, narratives and viewpoints that center primarily around human belonging and connection?

  • How can we nurture the voice and find the courage to put it out there? 
  • How do we preserve the artistic agency while writing about our personal experiences?
  • What role does the personal essay play in finding agency and free will?


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April 4, 2023
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm BST
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