Mar 8, 2007

David Damrosch on why you shouldn't write like a professor

David Damrosch discovers that good writing is good writing, even for college professors.
The lesson I would draw from my Goldilocks experience is that it is neither necessary nor desirable to dumb our projects down when writing for a general audience. At the same time, we need to write quite differently when we want to reach beyond the comforting confines of our disciplinary coteries.... The trade market can bear an impressive degree of scholarly substance if we can teach ourselves to reach out to a substantial nonscholarly clientele.
Good advice. Learn how to write with vigor and grace, no matter your tenure status. (Or, you could always do the opposite.)

I hope Damrosch reaches for intentional irony when he writes, "Regularly mocked as purveyors of arcane topics in clotted prose, professors often display a reciprocal ambivalence toward the general public." You can't always practice what you posit.

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