Crafting Presence

The American Essay and the Future of Writing Studies

by Nicole B. Wallack

Paperback Price $29.95
Ebook Price $24.95
30-day ebook rental price $12.50

Buy Now

 “A brilliant and often beautiful book. The writing is gorgeous, the readings of the essays perceptive, and the central argument of the book seems to me so completely and utterly correct that I found myself wondering why this book had not been written before.”

—John Duffy, University of Notre Dame

"An important contribution to literary studies, composition, and the burgeoning field of essay studies. . . . Crafting Presence deftly and confidently straddles all these."
—Ned Stuckey-French, Florida State University

"[O]ne of the best recent books on how professors, students, and essayists should read, critique, and write the essay . . . This book is a must read for anyone attempting to change the current dynamic. . . . Highly recommended."


Essays are central to students’ and teachers’ development as thinkers in their fields. In Crafting Presence, Nicole B. Wallack develops an approach to teaching writing with the literary essay that holds promise for writing students, as well as for achieving a sense of common purpose currently lacking among professionals in composition, creative writing, and literature.

Wallack analyzes examples drawn primarily from volumes of The Best American Essays to illuminate the most important quality of the essay as a literary form: the writer’s “presence.” She demonstrates how accounting for presence provides a flexible and rigorous heuristic for reading the contexts, formal elements, and purposes of essays. Such readings can help students learn writing principles, practices, and skills for crafting myriad presences rather than a single voice.

Crafting Presence holds serious implications for writing pedagogy by providing new methods to help teachers and students become more insightful and confident readers and writers of essays. At a time when liberal arts education faces significant challenges, this important contribution to literary studies, composition, and creative writing shows how an essay-centered curriculum empowers students to show up in the world as public thinkers who must shape the “knowledge economy” of the twenty-first century.

Against the Grain


New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Nicole B. Wallack. Thanks to the Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Nicole B. Wallack is senior lecturer in discipline in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and director of the Undergraduate Writing Program at Columbia University. As a senior associate of the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College, she leads writing-­across-the-curriculum workshops for high schools and colleges around the country.

Utah State University Press Logo


  • Paperback Price: $29.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-534-5
  • Ebook Price: $24.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $12.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-535-2
  • Publication Month: May
  • Publication Year: 2017
  • Pages: 248
  • Illustrations: none
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Nicole B. Wallack
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-534-5
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

Related Titles

Browse Related Titles Tagged Under:

University Press of Colorado University of Alaska Press Utah State University Press University of Wyoming Press