Serious essay topics only at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Who among us has not had to slog through a terrible essay, wondering why on Earth you decided to write about such an awful topic? Sure, the subject is important, and there’s no discrediting that, but why did you decide to make yourself extra-depressed during finals season, writing a paper you hate? Don’t you deserve some levity? Why would you write about, say, one of the many failings inherent to the American government when you could write about literally anything else? After all, we did all come to Barnard/Columbia because, deep down, we’re nerds, and writing can be fun if you make it so! That’s ostensibly what was going through our minds when we decided to write these essays, which were indeed all actually written, this semester or otherwise.

For some, the title says it all (almost):

  • A Dangerous Doctrine Or Harmless Fluff? Emily in Paris In Plato’s And Hobbes’ Models Of Censorship
  • What’s In A Name: Insights from and Implications of the “Karen” Archetype
  • What Are You Doing in My SWAMP?: Adapting a Modern Day Epic in the Style of a Classic Wayang Kulit Performance
    • A reflection essay I wrote about my equally unhinged final project for my global theatre class in which we did a traditional Balinese shadow puppet performance of Shrek. We got a 96.
  • Who’s Your Daddy? Power and Heritage in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter
  • Talking About Sex: Female Sexual Pleasure and Autonomy in “WAP”
  • Sappho Was A Lesbian: Here’s Proof
    • A 10-page paper examining Sappho’s usage of symbols, particularly flowers and other natural images, as definitive proof she was Big Gay
  • Running Away With the Circus: Racism, Sexism, and Heteronormativity in Circus
  • Love, Loss, and Consolation in The Book of the Duchess, Pearl, and how I’m feeling now
    • A paper comparing Chaucer & Charli XCX’s treatment of personal despair 
  • Waiting for Yung Gravy: an Ethnography of Meme Rap Listeners
  • Women in Contemporary Rap: Empowerment, Agency, and Eroticism
    • AKA me talking about how cool Megan Thee Stallion is for seven pages

For others, let’s just be honest, we forgot the title:

  • An honest-to-God 20-page stage adaptation of the conversion scene of Augustine’s Confessions for my Spring 2020 Lit Hum final (my professor let us do creative pieces instead of an actual paper)
    • I never got feedback on it, but I did pass the class, so I guess it was good?
  • A concert report on Daddy Yankee for Salsa, Soca, and Reggae (but kind of justified)
  • An essay essentially claiming that Frankenstein was a metaphor for the French Revolution/Reign of Terror, which… how
  • A 12-page UWriting paper last year on “Cow Tools” and how it is the symbol of our current culture and society, all while connecting it to Dada art, 9/11, Edward Snowden, and both World Wars
  • Convinced my friend to write her final on Ratatouille and the canonization of the Bible
    • I’m writing mine on the Jewish canon and Into the Woods
  • A midterm that was just five pages of fanfiction about the Book of Ruth
  • A 10-page paper comparing 17th-century political pamphlets to ~zines~
  • Three UWriting essays about how Justin Trudeau is an absolute buffoon and arguing that he got away with it only by being extremely hot
    • This was three years ago and many headlines since then have proved me RIGHT
  • An ethnography of Bergdorf Goodman shoppers
    • My conclusion was basically that a lot of them are dicks
  • My entire thesis is literally about baboon vaginas 

And sometimes, it seems, our professors encourage this kind of behavior:

  • My one history class is making me pretend to have a debate with a dead intellectual over a current issue in American history, writing one essay in THEIR voice, and one in mine
    • Anyway, now Susan Sontag and I are battling it out over the effectiveness of protest art

Image of the vibe while writing these essays via Flickr