Call for Submissions: The “Unwritten Essay” and Beyond

The Essay Review is a yearly online journal run out of the University of Iowa, dedicated to providing lively and surprising criticism of the essay in all its forms. By approaching nonfiction with similar critical techniques as used in the analysis of fiction, poetry, and drama, we investigate the methods and poetics of the essay. We encourage criticism that considers multiple definitions of the essay and that addresses the murky divide between fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry.

In more practical terms: we want your critical and creative essays on the elastic and broadening genre that is the essay. We are in the middle of an essay boom—online, in print, personal, political, journalistic, filmic, audio, photographic, everything—and this fantastic growth calls for a growing engagement worthy of the genre’s breadth. Enter the Essay Review. We are the only academic journal in existence dedicated solely to literary criticism of the nonfiction essay.

Previous contributors to The Essay Review include Jeff Porter, David Lazar, Ned Stuckey-French, and David Shields, among many others.

We do not have word limits, and all forms are encouraged. This year, we are particularly interested in pieces that engage with anything you might consider “unwritten.” This might include the photo essay, the film essay, sound essays, essays where white space takes up space, essays in which quiet seems particularly loud. It’s quite open to interpretation. We’re hoping that essays on this subject constitute the core of this year’s issue—perhaps half of what we ultimately run—with the rest left open to anything else under our broad rubric. While we don’t ordinarily take more than one submission per author, we are open if you’d like to contribute two, one “on theme” and one not. We’re also happy to discuss the possibilities with you ahead of your submission.

Our deadline for first drafts is February 19, 2017, and accepted submissions will receive an honorarium. Send submissions to


  1. All manuscripts must be in 12pt, Times New Roman font.
  2. All manuscripts must be double spaced with 1″ margins.
  3. If you choose to include graphics, please attach them separately, and indicate where they belong in your manuscript. Images should always be in high resolution.
  4. We do not have a page minimum limit or maximum limit, though we favor manuscripts under 50 pages.
  5. We allow multiple submissions.
  6. All manuscripts must be saved as Word documents.
  7. If including a works cited, please use MLA format.