Christopher Chelpka

The Problem with Academic Writing

Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College, has had enough of self-serving, academic writing.

I am more than willing to admit that just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t well reasoned or accurate. But the proportion of things published in academic journals has become less and less accessible to anyone who isn’t a specialist in that field… . an increasing proportion of what academics produce is unnecessarily obscure and obtuse, and, not surprisingly, poorly written. Graduate students read this drivel written by their academic elders, and then seek to emulate it, perpetuating the rule of pompous prose.
Dreier is right: “pompous prose” is a real problem. And the story Dreier tells in The American Prospect of a prank he played on two academic societies is an example of that fact. “Gibberish,” as the pop-punk band Relient K told us in 2003, “is not a nice way to talk to all your friends.“ Read about Dreier’s hoax and his solution at The American Prospect

HT: Arts & Letters Daily