Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women

Edited by Marcia Aldrich

New essays expand the genre, adding breadth to diverse women’s voices


“Marcia Aldrich has done more than sample the bounty of brilliant women’s essays. Through Waveform, she stakes a claim for the significance of the essay in contemporary literature by focusing on women’s fusion of a singular voice, personal experience, and formal innovation. Waveform should come with a warning label, though: these essays are so compelling you’ll be tempted to read heedlessly and breathlessly through the collection. But beware. This work is potent. Each essay delivers the blow of the wave as it breaks, exposing the hungry wave rider to the churn and danger beneath the swells. A herald of a new field, fully realized, and a triumphant display of its power.”
—Leigh Gilmore, author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives

“Rich in unexpected detail, these essays refresh our sense of how women map the world. Readers join writers on journeys of self-discovery that disconcert as well as reward.”
—Nancy K. Miller, author of Breathless: An American Girl in Paris

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Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women celebrates the role of women essayists in contemporary literature. Historically, women have been instrumental in moving the essay to center stage, and Waveform continues this rich tradition, further expanding the dynamic genre’s boundaries and testing its edges. With thirty essays by thirty distinguished and diverse women writers, this carefully constructed anthology incorporates works ranging from the traditional to the experimental.

Waveform champions the diversity of women’s approaches to the structure of the essay—today a site of invention and innovation, with experiments in collage, fragments, segmentation, braids, triptychs, and diptychs. Focused on these explorations of form, Waveform is not wed to a fixed theme or even to women’s experiences per se. It is not driven by subject matter but highlights the writers’ interaction with all manner of subject and circumstance through style, voice, tone, and structure.

This anthology presents some of the women who are shaping the essay today, mapping an ever-changing landscape. It is designed to place essays recently written by women such as Roxane Gay, Cheryl Strayed, Margo Jefferson, Jaquira Diaz, and Eula Biss into the hands of those who have been waiting patiently for something they could equally claim as their own.

Contributors: Marcia Aldrich, Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Chelsea Biondolillo, Eula Biss, Barrie Jean Borich, Joy Castro, Meghan Daum, Jaquira Díaz, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Patricia Foster, Roxane Gay, Leslie Jamison, Margo Jefferson, Sonja Livingston, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Brenda Miller, Michele Morano, Kyoko Mori, Bich Minh Nguyen, Adriana Paramo, Jericho Parms, Torrey Peters, Kristen Radtke, Wendy Rawlings, Cheryl Strayed, Dana Tommasino, Sarah Valentine, Neela Vaswani, Nicole Walker, Amy Wright

Page count: 256 pp.
6 b&w photos, 7-page graphic essay
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

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Marcia Aldrich is a professor of English at Michigan State University. She is the author of Girl Rearing: Memoir of a Girlhood Gone Astray and Companion to an Untold Story (Georgia), winner of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is the former editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.