Friday, February 12, 2010

The problem with academic writing...

First of all, I apologize for the length of time it's taken me to get back to blogging. Life and my never-ending job search calls. I'm applying to non-profit jobs- mostly HR, marketing/ communications and program assistant positions. But so far, no bites.
On the book front, I've mainly been reading non-profit job search books. Not necessarily uninteresting, just not what I would normally spend so much time with. In other reading material, you will find the subject of this blog- an excerpt from a book (a reading assignment) sent to me by my sister- who is taking a Feminist Studies class (something I might like to teach someday). I figured I would just have her send along her syllabus and class readings to mollify my need to be constantly learning (and preferably in school). But when I started looking at the article, I first noticed the title, which brought me back to my thesis writing days- and not in a good way- The Lexicon of the Debates.

I'm sorry, but how many undergrad freshmen know what lexicon means? Or use it in everyday conversation? I recently graduated with my MA and even I had to look up the meaning of the word 'lexicon.' After passing the 'intimidating' title, one would find the article is not too difficult of a read, but the title still continued to annoy me. How many college freshmen would be immediately be put off reading this summary of the debates on feminism simply because of the word 'lexicon'? I know at least one, and certainly there are more. Academic writing- MOST academic writing that is- is constantly guilty of throwing in lengthy, unfamiliar words simply because the piece of writing wants to be considered 'academic.' Who decided this? What's the problem with writing in plain English so that the writing is accessible to all? I got really frustrated with academics who wrote as if they were a stuffy 1960's Oxford professor when discussing a real and relevant topic like domestic violence today. Even when writing about philosophy, could it not be 'jazzed up' a bit to be accessible to college and graduate students (who are the majority of the people reading the material?) All I know is that some day I hope to be in academia, and I will strive to write in plain English, as I (attempted to) on my thesis.

Anyways, enough ranting for today, have a nice Friday!

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