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Dear Essayist, I Like Your Style

Presenter: Dr Lynn Jenner
Dates: 21–25 January 2019
Times: 9:30am–12:30pm, with mid-morning refreshment break

Course code: ESSAY19
Enrolment limit: 12

Cancellation details: We reserve the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrolments or unforeseen circumstances. If the course is cancelled, participants will be given a full refund. You can withdraw your registration with full refund up until 7 days before the course commences; thereafter 50% refund only (except in exceptional circumstances).

Enrolment: To enrol in this course you must complete the registration form and return to Summer School and Continuing Education with your payment.

You can access this form at:

About this course

This course is a five-day intensive reading and writing opportunity to jump-start or extend your essay writing with practical support. The aim of the course is that you write one or more essays, in a style that interests you, on a topic that interests you.

Essays can be personal, theoretical, political, satirical or light-hearted. They can be about something you know a lot about or something you need to understand. They can be so beautiful you can hardly breathe or quite plain. They can be so short they look like a prose poem or ten thousand words long. Attracted by this openness and flexibility, many contemporary writers choose the essay form to explore a topic, think about some ideas or put forward a view.

Course members will have access to an essay library of exciting New Zealand and international essays.

In the mornings, we will investigate selected essays to find out what they do and how they work. The course will help you make links between aesthetics that appeal to you and the techniques behind them so that you can experiment with bringing new elements into your essay-writing style.

We will also do writing exercises to give you ideas for a topic or an angle on your topic.

In the afternoons, you will work independently on your essay(s).

During the week you will receive feedback on your essay-writing experiments from other writers on the course and give feedback to other writers.

Day One


Course members will begin to get to know each other by each sharing a much-loved book of any sort. We will discuss whether there is anything from your much-loved book that you would like to develop in your writing. We’ll do some writing in class, read it aloud and share techniques to get started on a writing session.


Independent essay writing in location of choice. Read chosen essay(s) from the Essay Library.

Day Two


De-brief the writing experience. We will do some writing in class, read it aloud and discuss guidelines for giving and receiving feedback from other writers. Discussion of essays from the Essay Library from the perspective of style, intent and topic. Development of ideas for your own essays.


Independent essay writing in location of choice. Reading from the essay library.

Day Three


De-brief the writing experience. Workshop first drafts of essays.


Independent essay writing in location of choice. Reading from the essay library.

Day Four


De-brief the writing experience. Workshop essays.


Independent essay writing in location of choice. Reading from the essay library.

Day Five


De-brief the writing experience. Workshop essays. Discussion of publication options. Optional lunch together.


Independent essay writing in location of choice.

Who should attend?

This course assumes no experience in writing personal essays but a willingness to try. It will suit people who enjoy reading essays but have never tried writing them; writers of poetry, memoir, or fiction who want to try the essay form; and people with experience in professional or academic writing who would like to try a freer, more personal, or more literary essay form.


Dr Lynn Jenner

Lynn Jenner started her writing career at 50. Since then she has completed an MA and a PhD at the International Institute of Modern Letters and written three books. The most recent, Peat, a set of essays about New Zealand-born poet, editor and cultural philanthropist Charles Brasch and the construction of the Kāpiti Expressway, will be published by Otago University Press in July 2019.

Lynn’s first book, Dear Sweet Harry (AUP 2009), won the NZSA Jessie Mackay prize for the best first book of poetry in 2010 and her memoir Lost and Gone Away (AUP 2015) was a finalist in the non-fiction section of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2016.

More information about Lynn’s writing, teaching and research into creative writing is available on Lynn’s author website


TBC. Course members are welcome to stay and write in the course venue during the afternoons.

Payment details

  • Online banking: Account number 03-0175-0660238-00. Please use your name and course code ESSAY19 as the reference.
  • Eftpos / credit card: Available at the AskOtago desk (Central Library Building, Albany Street).
  • Cheque: Make cheques payable to the University of Otago and send with your name and course code to Continuing Education, PO Box 56, Dunedin.
Date Monday, 21 January 2019 - Friday, 25 January 2019
Time 9:30am - 12:30pm
Audience Public
Event Type Short Course
Contact NameJacqueline Fraser
Contact Phone+64 3 479 9181

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