What do writers who are mostly famous for their works of prose fiction have to say and how do they necessarily speak their minds differently when they’re writing essays instead of novels? What can this kind of ambidexterity teach us about why some thoughts need to be novels while other thoughts really just need to be essays? Do the essays of novelists have a certain “je ne sais quoi” that the essays of those who, perhaps, have never written a novel seem to lack? Can a novel begin as an essay? What essay has a writer’s own novel inspired that writer to pen after the novel’s publication? What can these essays teach us about experimenting, thinking, assembling, preparing, and organizing our way toward clearheaded and ethical actions in the real world? These are some of the questions that we’ll answer throughout the course of the semester as we read essays by James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, Truman Capote, and others.