Writing and Ethics: Exorcising [My] Professorial Demons

Larval Subjects .

handwritingTaking a brief break from marking, as I grade student essays I find myself thinking dark, unfair things:  bad writers are bad people.  Before explaining just why this thought occurs to me (and I think I’m wrong to think this) it’s first important to clarify just what I mean by “bad writing”.  I’m not talking about incomplete and awkward sentences, nor am I talking about poor spelling and bad organization.  These things are instances of bad writing, of course, but they are not the sort of bad writing I’m talking about.

Rather, the sort of bad writing I’m talking about might be described as solipsistic writing.  It is a form of writing that fails to consider its audience or what it’s audience would need to know in order to understand what the writer is talking about.  Such writing just jumps into the topic without telling the reader what…

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