Over the last several weeks I’ve asked you to read and experiment with several competing views of style in writing. Some of these views have tended to place the writer in the background, emphasizing clarity and content, while others have argued for a more expressive and virtuosic prose that foregrounds the voice of the author.
I’d like you to finish this course by writing an essay that expresses your own voice, your own style, as fully and precisely as you can. And since this is a course in academic writing—that is, in writing that deals with texts and ideas, I’d like you to write that essay in response to a text that particularly engages and interests you.
By text I mean an artifact that has been crafted to convey meaning. A text is something you can cite and quote directly, and that your readers can access independently of you. A book is a text, but so is a movie, a song, an image, a drawing, an advertisement, a video, a letter, an email, a tweet, and so on. The text you write about may be in any medium: print, digital, video, audio, graphic, architectural, sculptural, etc. You can also write about a performance or event—so long as it has been “textualized” or recorded in some way. What’s essential, though, is that you choose a text that sustains and repays your attention as a reader, that prompts interesting thinking and writing on your part.
Because what this essay should really center on is your mind at work. We read a good essay for the perspective that an author brings to her topic, for the pleasure of listening to her voice as a writer. We read, that is, as much for the writer as for the subject. You thus have two challenges in this project: To say something of interest about a text that engages you, and to say in it a voice that feels distinctively your own.
Think in terms of a midlength essay—somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 words. I’d also like you to add a brief reflection on your work in which you discuss what you’ve taken or adapted from the writers we’ve read together as you’ve developed your own style as a writer. That is, I’d like you to reflect on your own style in relation to their theories and advice.
Good luck! I look forward to a rousing conclusion to the course!
- Wed, 4/04, class: Topic/text for essay
- Thurs, 4/12, 9:00 am: Draft One
- Mon, 4/16, class: Workshops, bring responses (x10)
- Tues, 4/17, 1:00 pm: Revision plans (x11)
- Wed, 4/18, class: Work session, discuss x11s
- Mon, 4/23, or Tues, 4/24: Conferences with jh
- Tues, 5/01, 9:00 am: Draft Two