Structured fragmentation in Essay Writing
The critical bibliography that analyzes the essay genre is very broad and varied. A detailed review of the sources exceeds what we intend in this work, therefore, we will focus on some of the classic critical texts on the essay. In the first place, and always considering that our perspective of analysis is the teaching of the different academic discursive genres, it would be possible to define the essay as a free commentary around an event, a theme or an artistic product. In the essay, the author's freedom of approach is very great; In general, this type of text usually dispenses with an external critical apparatus, although it is always maintained within the intellectual rigor.
The essay is based on a personal thesis that includes value judgments on the subject and should always reveal a "creative originality". It is interesting to note that while the essay may freely adopt a personal approach, aspire to a certain literary nuance and to dispense with the external critical apparatus, this does not mean that it can obviate the firm expository and argumentative coherence; In fact, it has been argued that "a good essay is one that can, at any moment, recover its scaffolding of quotations and notes that constitute the critical apparatus."
Precisely, this degree of creative freedom, which does not renounce the structuring of academic writing, is the characteristic that interests us to stand out from the essay genre, since it promote a meaningful learning. This distinctive feature of essay writing can be linked to the guidelines of a teaching strategy such as problem solving. Let us now review some of the main theoretical positions on gender, focusing particularly on their analysis of this "structured fragmentation". The essay must not be part of the field of science, but rather would be established as an artistic genre, as an "art form," but never completely erase the boundary between art and science. The essay does not possess that definitive perfection of philosophy and science, but that does not mean that it does not have the capacity for a "new conceptual reordering of life." It is further argued that the essayist contrasts his "fragmentary creation with the small perfections of scientific accuracy"; therefore, the essay does not give absolute and perpetual conclusions. The essay is a judgment, "but what is essential in it, what decides its value, is not judgment ... but the very process of judging." The essay, artistic genre, is "confronted with life with the same gesture of the work of art, but only with gesture".
Moreover, continuous inquiry, doubting everything that is believed to know about the object or theme of the essay, involves risk, unpredictability. The condition of the essay, and its material itself, is the freedom of the spirit, which has as its counterpart the freedom of form. The framework that the essayist chooses to develop his reflection can take multiple forms and adopt different perspectives, it may even seem unsystematic and chaotic; However, the very process of inquiry gives it an order, a series of steps to follow, a systematic development. In addition, the plan of the essay must be discovered in its remains, always dispersed throughout a text that sometimes hides its plan."
The essay reflects, judges and creates, concealing its own hermeneutical process. Theodor Adorno, one of the renowned educationalist states that the essay, radical in its "fragmentary character," does not follow the rules of the "game of science", since it does not point to "closed, deductive or inductive construction" and so it rejects any timeless and unchanging result. In the essay, concepts are not deployed linearly and in one direction, but are interwoven and interacted simultaneously; the essay "proceeds in a methodically manner". Again, from this characterization, one could think that the essay genre is chaotic and that its coherence and argumentative structure depends exclusively on the essayist's creativity.
The structure of the essay cannot have contradictions, "unless they are grounded as contradictions of the thing itself." The essay is both open and closed: it is open to the extent that, by its very disposition, it denies all systematization; And is closed, because "it works emphatically in the form of the exhibition". We have outlined the main lines of some analysis on the essay, emphasizing this dual nature of the genre: explicitly fragmentary and at the same time slyly structured; Anti-systematic and free in its form, but coherent and logical in the exposition and argumentation. According to our proposal, this feature of the essay could be used for the teaching of academic writing in the university environment.