“We talk in company, we write alone.” This has both its drawbacks and benefits, but in reading and commenting on each other’s work this seminar will foster as far as possible a collaborative dimension of writing, the point being that in doing so we improve both our own writing and, crucially, our capacities to read and respond to the work of others. Please read all of your fellow student’s contributions and engage with them—this is not just an exercise in ethics/support, good writing is in fact inseparable from good reading.
In addition to the sessions outlines detailed below, in our first session we’ll make some time for thinking about the basic fundamentals of writing and responding. We’ll read the introduction of Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff’s Sharing and Responding (McGraw-Hill, 1989), which I will circulate. Across the seminar we’ll think about what constitutes a good piece of writing. We’ll think about things like thesis or argument, evidence, method, and structure; what kind of rhetorical devices we should be using and which we might want to avoid; citational styles and convention. We’ll come back time and again to basic questions: What is the main argument here? What is the scholarly field in which we are intervening? What are the contributions to that field? What are the methods and sources?