Category Archives: writing

February 11, 2014, 11:09 am

Links Before Lunch….

sausage party

For reasons I do not entirely understand, this image has been circulating on Facebook.

…Otherwise known as random bullets of cr^p. So without further ado:

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January 31, 2014, 1:00 am

Random Pieces of Writing Fun

Flying_PigsHere’s a redirect to my book blog where, to celebrate completing another draft chapter, I describe my weird writing process.

You’ve heard the expression “when pigs fly?” Well, the little porkers are fluttering around the Mountain West: Historiann joined Twitter. We expect great things of you, cowgirl, as you are hands down the wittiest woman in the Rockies.

John Fea, who is awesome in so many ways, rented a hotel room and wrote over 30,000 words in a weekend. Over at the #GraftonLine, we are all, like, dude.

It is well known within the four walls of my home that I am Ann Patchett’s biggest fan. Her recent book, This is the Story of A Happy Marriage (Harpers, 2013), a collection of nonfiction essays, is particularly good reading if you are trying to focus on, and think about, your writing. Anyone wishing to make a speech in defense of the humanities will also love Patchett’s…

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October 27, 2013, 11:19 am

The Check Is In The Mail — Sometimes

Kreider

Tim Kreider’s self-portrait

Check out Tim Kreider‘s piece in today’s New York Times about being asked to write for free. This is a gift from heaven. Eight days ago I passed my seventh bloggiversary, and I will soon be writing my 1000th free post. It has been a little over four years since I moved over to the Chronicle of Higher Education, where I continue the Tenured Radical tradition of writing for nothing.

Most bloggers write for free, actually. Want a blog at the Huffington Post? Have your publicist, or your sister posing as your publicist, call them and ask. They will be happy to publish you — for free. They need content, you need exposure. It’s a deal!

Here’s the news: bloggers who make money do so either by writing self-help books based on their blogs and/or by pushing products, which is called…

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October 20, 2013, 11:41 am

Cheaters: And The Cheating Cheat Factories That Help Them Cheat

dave_tomar-300x300

Cute, cynical Dave.

Dave Tomar, The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat  (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012), $16.00 paper; $9.99 ebook.

Reading this book solved a small mystery in my teaching career.

Every once in a while, even without Turnitin.com, a paper screams: “plagiarized!!!!” About a decade ago, I received one of those papers. Only partly coherent, grammatically idiosyncratic sentences were sutured to others that flowed beautifully, delivering a punchy argument that the rest of the paragraph had lurched towards in an often obscure way. What I suspected was something called “mosaic plagiarism,” in which the students’ own writing is used as filler in between quotes lifted from books that have no quotation marks around them.  I went to the library to check a couple of the books…

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September 17, 2013, 8:34 am

Who Pays for Free? When Universities Give Our Work Away

shorter

David Delgado Shorter

In today’s Wired Campus, Hannah Winston reports that the chancellor’s office of California’s community college system will make materials that they have funded available for free under a Creative Commons License. But as today’s guest blogger, David Delgado Shorter, a film maker and professor of anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles asks, aren’t faculty ultimately paying for these generous policies?

I received a nice note the other day from one of my University’s librarians alerting me to the good news that they had purchased a licensing agreement with a company that would give any UCLA student free access to my book as an e-edition. This news, she informed me, would mean that more colleagues on campus could assign my book more affordably. Well, not just affordable…

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June 5, 2013, 2:52 pm

Radical Mailbag: Writing A Good Blog Post

woman-writing-letters-by-charles-dana-gibsonSo ya wanna be a blogger? “Santa Rosa Sandy” writes:

Dear Dr. Radical:

Having enjoyed your blog and admired the writing (and wry humor!) for a while, I wondered if you’d be willing to address the characteristics of good blog writing. My own sense is that blog posts should be meaty, but pithy—if that’s not conflating two different food groups. They can be leavened with more personal comment, humor, and current cultural reference than—say—a journal article. I recently submitted an invited entry to a higher ed blog (admittedly, I’d gone over the word limit). But to my chagrin, the editors are making it fit by removing anything that seemed even slightly leavening, leaving a pretty bland result. (more…)

July 26, 2012, 3:44 pm

Citizen Radical: Or, My Life As An Editor

“…..Rose…bud……”

My recent post about icky academic theory-speak stirred the writing pot big time. It prompted a vigorous on-line debate about my unwillingness to name the author/book that triggered my eruption about the unreadability of some theory. My argument that many books would do a better job of illuminating the subject at hand if they were freed from jargon and grammatical circumlocution received less attention.

I am interested in this question because I write, but also because I edit academic book projects and try to take them from good to great, great to fabulous. I meet them at the proposal stage and live with them until they are handed off to the author’s best friend, the copyeditor.

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July 11, 2012, 3:00 pm

Writing By Hand: the Lost Art

Today the Tenured Radical is feeling like the Tenured Crank, and not just because of the summer cold that has taken up temporary residence between her vacationing ears.

Over at HASTAC, where there are always a ton of great ideas for the digitally inclined, writing prof Teresa Narey highlights the question of whether young people will continue to learn handwriting skills. Given the shift to using computers in secondary school, and curricula geared to a techie world, will subsequent generations even need to learn to write legibly? Cursive writing, she argues in this post, “is becoming an outdated skill.”

Secondary schools are apparently divided on this issue: some still teach handwriting and some do not. Some schools teach handwriting out of tradition, without any real conviction that it is a skill worth having. “Contrastingly,” Narey writes, “many Catholic schools continue to make…

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April 20, 2011, 4:24 pm

Wednesday Writing Fun With Mary Beth Norton: How To Write A Trilogy

At the newly redesigned History News Network, Cornell Historian Mary Beth Norton gives great advice on “How To Write A Trilogy Without Really Trying.”  What’s her secret?  Don’t tell anyone that you’re doing it.  After publishing your prize-winning first book, jump into a new field (in Norton’s case, women’s history) that’s raising a lot of important questions, then publish a second book that turns Early American history on its head.   Realize that you aren’t done, and over the course of the next thirty years turn out volumes two and three (in reverse order, no less!), as well as numerous other books, articles and a widely-used textbook.  Easy-peasy!

As usual, Norton has chosen a great title for a great blog past that actually explains how an entire intellectual career has unfolded up to this point.  Why is it a great title, other than the obvious allusion?  Because no one who knows her…

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January 30, 2011, 7:47 pm

If A Student Essay Falls In The Woods And No One Is There To Read It, Does Anyone Care?

They’re B-A-A-A-a-a-ck!

A while back, I assigned two papers in one of my classes.  In the first, I gave a straightforward “assignment” that asked students to think more deeply about the reading they had done up to that point and use what they had learned to analyze a primary document.  In the scale of things, this is a standard history assignment. I gave the class three documents to choose from, and awaited the papers.  When I began to read them, one thought came to mind:

“GAAAAH!”

Now, let me emphasize:  they weren’t bad papers.  Many of them were A-worthy; only a few received grades thought ought to have been worrisome to the recipients.  And yet, as I paged thorugh them, I dreaded grading them.  Why?  They were dull.

Subsequently, I did a little informal research among the students, and most of them admitted that they, had been uninspired and uncertain about the point of the paper. …

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