As with the weather, everyone talks about how bad academic writing is, but no one does anything about it. So much of graduate education is focused on mastering content that there’s little time to think about sentences, about how to craft a narrative that entertains as it enlightens, about how to keep the reader engaged—or even acknowledge the wacky notion that if you want to be read, you need to think about the reader. In this session, Rachel Toor draws on her experiences both as an editor of scholarly books and now as a creative writer to outline the reasons she thinks so much of academic writing stinks (hint: one of the biggies is fear) and give her top ten strategies for how to write better academic prose (including almost too-obvious-to-speak-aloud tips that often get overlooked). The talk will be geared to academics at all career levels, from graduate students to full professors who care about writing better.
Rachel Toor's presentations are being brought to you through a collaboration between the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Department of English, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School, the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. The Writing Intensive Program and the CTL's Writing Fellows Program are serving as administrative sponsors.
Bio: Rachel Toor, a former acquisitions editor at Oxford and Duke University Presses, is now a professor in the graduate creative writing program at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of four works of nonfiction and one novel. Her work has been published in a wide variety of places, including The New York Times, The LA Times, Inside Higher Ed, Ploughshares, SB Nation, Glamour, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World and JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. She was a long-time columnist for Running Times magazine and her essays have been listed as notable three times in Best American Sports Writing and once in Best American Essays. She has written for The Chronicle of Higher Education for the past two decades and contributes a monthly column, “Page Proof,” on writing and publishing. She’s also started a series called “Scholars Talk Writing” where she interviews good academic stylists about their prose, process, and asks for writing tips. Her next book, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in fall 2017, is for high school students on writing the college application essay. She is a graduate of Yale University and received an MFA from the University of Montana.