[ITL-CAD] Query RE Academic Writing
aarvast at georgianc.on.ca
Wed Aug 15 00:28:33 EST 2007
Thanks for prompting me to think about these questions again, Tai and Helen.
In addition to my CADish work in research I teach literature and I do not see a sharp line between the Humanities and the Social Sciences as some might. Like Tai, I read for a certain poetry -- precision of word selection so that the complex is both compressed and expanded simultaneously. I do believe all good writing begins with knowing your audience and purpose.... My PhD supervisor, Jim Ryan at OISE, talks about writing his dissertation and having his mother read it. He realized then that he needed to be using language that is accessible if he wants to speak to a more general audience than the already converted and I also agree that making our work accessible without oversimplification is key. Like a good poem, we should be able to read the work on a number of levels. Walt Whitman makes the ideas of the American Renaissance beautiful so I can read about a leaf of grass or I can read about key ideas of transcendentalism and existentialism, tasting the layers with each read. Stylish writers for me invite me to read a passage over again not because I didn't understand it the first time, but because it charms me into knowing there is more to it.
I also like writing that is critical without being hyper-critical, begins from a place of exegesis rather than attack. Again I have another mentor, Reva Joshee, who is responsible for teaching me to approach a text from a peaceful place rather than the attack mode which seems so the norm in graduate education.
A stylish writer is a friend I am looking forward to meet some day -- clever, witty, engaged and keen to make the world a better place.
University Partnership Centre
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
(705) 728-1968 ext 1650
aarvast at georgianc.on.ca
From: itl-cad-bounces at mail.usyd.edu.au on behalf of Tai Peseta
Sent: Tue 8/14/2007 8:17 AM
To: Challenging Academic Development (CAD) Collective
Subject: RE: [ITL-CAD] Query RE Academic Writing
Lovely to hear your voice on the list. Sorry to have been a wee bit slow with a response to your question about writing. It's the time of year again where everything revs up and busy-ness takes over. If it's still ok to respond to your questions, here's my two bob worth. I'd be keen to hear other CAD people on this issue too since it's a conversation I've had with a few people on this list over drink and cheer.
1. How do you define 'stylish' academic writing?
Increasingly, I am drawn to academic writing that can present complex ideas in ways that sing and that feel graspable (that's not a word I'm sure); academic writing that has a melody about it; and that is about reaching out to have a conversation with me -- rather than just telling me things. I heard the Australian historian Inga Clendinnen put it thus (and I am paraphrasing here): writing that has this quality "come meander and think with me".
2. Who are some of the most stylish writers in your field?
Stylish in my field is different to academic writers that have influenced my own thinking about AD and HE T&L or researching those things. Here's my list (it changes everyday):
- Ruth Behar
- Jon Nixon
- Peter Clough
3. What makes their work a pleasure to read?
I remember first coming across their writing and having a really strong reaction which was not only pleasure in the broader ideas and arguments themselves, but I had a sense that each of them worked really hard to find the right words and to think about how those words sounded and meant together. Maybe that's an expression of poetics. That master of the short story form Raymond Carver says its like finding the right words and no others. With Behar, I got teary; with Nixon, he led me to read other writers; with Clough, it was purely -- I want to write like you. It's funny how we carry writers/thinkers with us.
Hope this helps -- Cheers, Tai
Dr Tai Peseta, Associate Lecturer
Editor, Synergy (http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/synergy)
Issue 25 June 2007 available online
Institute for Teaching and Learning, F07
The University of Sydney
NSW AUSTRALIA 2006
p: +61 2 9351 4657
f: +61 2 9351 4331
e: t.peseta at usyd.edu.au
w: http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/>
From: itl-cad-bounces at mail.usyd.edu.au on behalf of Helen Sword
Sent: Fri 3/08/2007 1:29 PM
To: itl-cad at mail.usyd.edu.au
Subject: [ITL-CAD] Query RE Academic Writing
I've been lurking quietly on the list for a while but this is my first
posting. I've especially enjoyed the discussion about Alison Phipps'
article -- and indeed the article itself, a wonderfully refreshing piece of
academic writing. Thank you Tai for bringing it to our attention.
Speaking of academic writing, I'm sending the following message out to
colleagues in every academic field I can think of and would be most grateful
if you'd respond briefly to the questions below, and also forward my query
Query RE Academic Writing
For a book tentatively titled 'Academic Style' (an oxymoron?!) I am seeking
comments and recommendations from colleagues across the disciplines. How
do you define 'stylish' academic writing? Who are some of the most stylish
writers in your field? What makes their work a pleasure to read?
Please forward this message to academic colleagues and listservs, and email
your own response off-list to Dr Helen Sword (h.sword at auckland.ac.nz). All
replies will remain completely confidential.
Thank you for your help, and apologies for cross-posting!
University of Auckland
ITL-CAD mailing list
ITL-CAD at mail.usyd.edu.au
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