A common and depressing consequence of too much education is how our writing tends to devolve, as the task of saying what we mean is complicated by new anxieties: trying to impress our potential employers, intimidate our competition, claim our place in an intellectual community, and generally avoid looking like fools. In many professions, bad prose tends to proliferate like some disgusting disease, as scholars, trying above all to avoid mistakes, become tentative, obscurantist, addicted to jargon, and desperate to imitate other bad writers. In this course we will try to relearn the basic skills of effective communication and adapt them to new and complicated purposes. In class we will go over weekly or bi-weekly writing assignments, but we will also look at the essays you are writing for your other courses, to give them an outward form that will best display their inner braininess. Among other things, I am a fiction writer, and part of my intention is to borrow the techniques of storytelling to dramatize your ideas successfully.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
limited to and required of first-year students in the Graduate Program in the History of Art