Jonathan Neale ~ Why Radical Academics Often Find It Hard To Write, And What To Do About It

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Henriette Browne - A Girl Writing

Henriette Browne – A Girl Writing

This post will be of interest to only some of our readers. But we hope it will be very useful for them.

It is not easy to be both an academic and an activist. The values, the audiences and the constraints are different. Sitting down to write, you can feel yourself pulled in two different ways. The result is often muddled thinking and murky prose. There is too much ranting for an academic audience, and too much gobbledygook for the movement. In many cases, there is no prose at all, only silence, and pages crumpled in the wastebasket or erased on the screen.
The first half of this post offers some advice that can make writing easier, faster and more useful. The second half explains why universities make activists feel stupid, how they do it, and how you can cope.

Part One: Some advice for writing
The most useful thing I have learned in my own life is to split, writing one thing for the academy and another thing for the movement. Ordinarily, graduate students and young teachers try to write for both. In a sense, they are trying to write for people like themselves. This strategy puts them in a very tight and conflicted space. As they write each sentence, they notice it is too direct for the professors, or too convoluted for the activists – or, often, both at once. So they rewrite the sentence and then delete it. Or they write an academic paper, in academic language, while underneath there is a fury bubbling to be free. Suddenly they are ranting, and then, embarrassed, they return to silence.

The contradiction is real, and not their fault. One solution is to write for both audiences separately. That may seem like more work, but it is not. If you can write happily for both audiences, you can write twice as much in less time. Splitting your audience frees you to write for other activists, in language they can use, sharing assumptions and loyalties, directly to their concerns. The academy will not contaminate this writing.

Read more: https://sexismclassviolence.wordpress.com/why-radical-academics

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