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You might say that writing found in literature is literary; language like that found in poetry is poetic.

What do you call writing found in essays, or writing like that found in essays?
(Not considering prosaic, to head off certain humorous tangents.)

Is there a word or short phrase better than essayistic?


In addition to pieces of writing originating from or destined for an academic group, here are a couple of items that appear to fall into the same category:

Errol Morris's blog in the New York Times

One of many 'essays' by Paul Graham: Makers/Managers Schedules

Also see Paul Graham: The Age of the Essay

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Anything would be better than essayistic! –  FumbleFingers Mar 28 '11 at 17:52
    
So far, I'm liking both 'scholarly' and 'expository.' 'Scholarly' seems to apply to a more restricted class within this kind of writing, but in much the same way that "literary" applies within fiction writing. –  jbelacqua Mar 28 '11 at 17:57
    
I think of essays as persuasive writing. It seems like one of the big differences between an essay and an article is that the essayist is building an argument. –  Jason Orendorff Mar 28 '11 at 18:41
    
Why don't you want to consider prosaic? That's actually the first word that springs to mind for me. –  gnovice Mar 28 '11 at 18:48
    
@gnovice -- prosaic is too ambiguous ; synonyms [from wordnik] include : boring · commonplace · dull · prosy · unimaginative · uninteresting · unpoetical –  jbelacqua Mar 28 '11 at 21:30
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The best term I've come across is discursive writing. Discursive means relating to a discourse, which in turn is defined as

a speech or piece of writing about a particular, usually serious, subject.

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.. hmm, I've used discursive by itself, but not to describe a class of writing. It was used quite extensively in writing on/about post-structuralist theory. But I'd worry that the polysemy of discursive would be confusing. Does it mean related to discourse, or "wandering" or "desultory", etc.? It's also used in some English Buddhist texts to describe the 'everyday' state of mind one wants to get away from in a concentrated meditative state. (But +1 -- it is a good one.) –  jbelacqua Mar 28 '11 at 21:52
    
@jgbelacqua: For what it's worth, searching for discursive writing reveals it is commonly used with the "essay" meaning... –  psmears Mar 29 '11 at 9:05
    
... and I think that frequency of use probably is a good yardstick for generalized ambiguity or lack thereof? It does, as you point out, have the sense of being discourse-related, which is right on (though not exclusively so). –  jbelacqua Mar 29 '11 at 18:18
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I've seen expository writing.

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It does somewhat depend which particular types of essay one is thinking of. Didactic often fits the bill, but it has moralistic overtones not present in expository. –  FumbleFingers Mar 28 '11 at 17:50
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The word here is academic writing.

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I've added a couple of examples of writing that seem like essays, but that might not be best described as academic writing. –  jbelacqua Mar 28 '11 at 17:46
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In that case you might mean "scholarly" writing. –  Robusto Mar 28 '11 at 17:49
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I've heard it described simply as long-form writing.

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