Compelling academic prose is a rare beast. In this course we will investigate what makes for good academic writing and how we can produce it ourselves. We will begin with words, then progress to sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Our reading will be close, our writing closer. Topics include the following: Are adverbs incredibly important? When is less more, and when isn’t it? Is your garden English, or is it Chinese? What is the “uneven U” and why does it work? How does your audience affect how you write? In addition to reading writing about writing by Orwell, Fish, Tufte, Hayot, and (inevitably) Strunk and White, we will look closely at academic prose out in the wild, both good and bad. This course is for anyone who is interested in exploring in more depth the craft of writing, whether you have always considered yourself a “good writer” or struggle to fill a single page (or both). Our focus will be on academic writing for the humanities, but the skills we will develop are relevant to many other contexts as well.
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: Regular attendance and active participation in class; writing assignments ranging in length from sentences to essays of varying length (500 words to 5-7 pages).
Enrollment Preferences: First- and second-year students
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: The course will center on explicit, in-depth discussion of writing. We will read and discuss both writing on writing, and examples of prose. Students will complete weekly writing assignments of varying lengths and degrees of formality on which they will receive feedback from the instructor with particular attention to the craft of writing; some assignments will also be shared with the rest of the class.