Opinions on the Academy: finding ones ‘voice’

Each week, the editors will choose an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. An interview will be conducted with several CAS professors. The responses will be posted in this section in a straightforward Q and A layout.

This section is opinion based.

The editors of This Week In CAS are asking that you, the professors of CAS, use this as an opportunity to look outside your department and consider what your CAS colleagues  think about the issues of the academy.

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article, “It can thereby be shown…”, Rachel Toor suggests that American professors tend to copy British speech patterns and often include it in their writings. She states that by doing so, “it’s showing an effort of disguise. That kind of linguistic costuming is common in academe. Often we want to sound more aristocratic than our roots.”

She also states, “Trying to sound more like yourself and less like a clone would make for a better and more interesting array of scholarly writing styles” and “Obviously some material and disciplines lend themselves more easily than others to letting a voice show through the content, but scholarly work would be better if we encouraged people to write more like themselves, instead of in an unintentionally funny parody of what they think academic prose should look like.”

What can you say about her statements? Do you believe there should be a “reform” of sorts in academic writing?

A young Riley Maynard works with a student. Photo courtesy of Maynard.

My background in television news taught me a style that has worked for me through the years.

After awhile I could write like I spoke and this became my academic method as well.  It helps with setting up quotes and bridging out of them for good transitions.  This is what we call “flow.”

Not all disciplines can do this, but those who can should do so out of consideration for their audience.  I consider it Hemingway-esque.

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