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The Elements of Academic Style


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Combining psychological support with practical suggestions for structuring paragraphs and essays composing introductions and conclusions, developing schedules and habits for writing, and using notes and citations, Eric Hayot rejuvenates scholarship and writing in the humanities. From small concerns to big-picture issues, he helps students, newly minted Ph.D.'s, and established professors shape their work and develop their voices while also adjusting their perspective as writers, encouraging scholars to think of themselves as makers and doers of important work.

Table of Contents

1. Why Read This Book? Part I. Writing as Practice 2. Unlearning What You (Probably) Know 3. Eight Strategies for Getting Writing Done 4. Institutional Contexts 5. Dissertations and Books 6. A Materialist Theory of Writing 7. How Do Readers Work? Part II. Strategy 8. The Uneven U 9. Structure and Subordination 10. Structural Rhythm 11. Introductions 12. Don't Say It All Early 13. Paragraphing 14. Three Types of Transitions 15. Showing Your Iceberg 16. Metalanguage 17. Ending Well 18. Titles and Subtitles Part III. Tactics 19. Citational Practice 20. Conference Talks 21. Examples 22. Figural Language 23. Footnotes and Endnotes 24. Jargon 25. Parentheticals 26. Pronouns 27. Repetition 28. Rhetorical Questions and Clauses 29. Sentence Rhythm 30. Ventilation 31. Weight Part IV. Becoming 32. Work as Process 33. Becoming a Writer 34. From the Workshop to the World (as Workshop [as World]) 35. Acknowledgments Appendix: A Writer's Workbook Works Cited Bibliography

About the Author

Eric Hayot is professor of comparative literature and Asian studies at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of On Literary Worlds, The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain (co-recipient of the 2010 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize), and Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel quel. He has worked for the Columbus Dispatch and the Associated Press. More recently, his writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and Public Books. He also is a cofounder of the blog Printculture.


Part of the pleasure of reading this lively, friendly, and truly unique book on academic writing is getting a sense of the pleasure with which the author obviously wrote it. With intelligence, generosity, and dare I say love, Eric Hayot makes us pay attention to that which we tend most to overlook or to give short shrift in scholarly practice-the act of style and its integral relation to critical thought-and moreover shows us how to enjoy the act of reclaiming it. Academic writers at all stages of experience will return to these pages again and again. -- Sianne Ngai, author of Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting My only criticism of The Elements of Academic Style is that it wasn't around thirty years ago, when I needed to learn everything, micro and macro, that this book teaches in its inimitable ways about the nature of scholarly writing. But I need it today just as much for its provocative suggestion that we unlearn what we believe we already know about seminar papers, chapters, dissertations, and books as kinds of writing. Challenging us to rethink what we ask our students to do (and why), Hayot links the demands of academic style to the possibilities of institutional reform. How long are seminar papers, and why do we need them anyway? Thanks to The Elements of Academic Style, we'll be debating these and many other questions for years to come. -- Andrew Parker, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Rutgers University The Elements of Academic Style is an utter tour de force, a guide to scholarly writing in the humanities that manages to be at once lively, funny, absorbing, rigorous, and immensely insightful. It offers a wealth of advice from the minute and grammatical to the disciplinary and career-changing, even as it probes deeply into the humanities as they are actually practiced, in the nitty gritty of our writing. Intended for graduate students, who will benefit in untold ways from its wisdom, it is a boon for faculty as well, so acute are its observations and so intelligent its maxims. Like its progenitor, Elements of Academic Style has sweep, lucidity, and pitch-perfect style. But what most distinguishes this remarkable book are more unexpected qualities: its intimacy, and especially its generosity. Eric Hayot has given us all a gift. -- Sarah Cole, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University For literary critical postgraduates and their teachers this is a useful book. Times Literary Supplement [The Elements of Academic Style] has the potential to transform how we teach and practice academic writing, and it invites the kind of reading and engagement that makes such a transformation possible... A book well worth reading and rereading. -- Carla Nappi New Books Network Seminar A needed contribution to the literature on academic writing, Hayot's book will be invaluable to any writer in the humanities. CHOICE Excellent... The book is a comprehensive, incisive, and staggeringly overdue guide to writing humanistic scholarship... Written in assured, engaging prose, possessed of personality but not overbearing, The Elements should be required reading for everybody-students, faculty, even administrators-in the orbit of a humanities Ph.D. program. -- Louis Bury Hyperallergic

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