The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


Slavoj Žižek, on writing books

Submitted by syntaxfactory on October 4, 2015 - 9:57pm

Slavoj Žižek, on writing books

I have a very complicated ritual about writing. It’s psychologically impossible for me to sit down, so I have to trick myself. I operate a very simple strategy which, at least, with me, works. I put down ideas, but I put them down usually already in a relatively elaborate way, like the line of thought already written, full sentences, and so on.


Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next.

Submitted by syntaxfactory on October 3, 2015 - 10:42am

"Properly written texts are like spiders’ webs: tight, concentric, transparent, well-spun and firm. They draw into themselves all the creatures of the air. Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey. Subject matter comes winging towards them. The soundness of a conception can be judged by whether it causes one quotation to summon another. Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next. It proves its relation to the object as soon as other objects crystallize around it.


Stylish Writing

Submitted by syntaxfactory on December 5, 2013 - 9:00pm

Mariko Izumi just listened to these lectures on Helen Sword's Stylish Academic Writing at Harvard and thought we might enjoy listening to them:

Helen Sword:
Steven Pinker:
Elizabeth Knoll:



Nate Kreuter Knocks It Outta the Block on Writing

Submitted by syntaxfactory on August 19, 2013 - 9:07am

"By allowing ourselves, or forcing ourselves, to generate writing that we know will not make it into a final product, we also open up a strategy for preventing or circumventing the writing blocks that many academics sometimes encounter. Worrying that the writing you are doing is unimportant or irrelevant is a fast track to derailing your own productivity. Just write. Then step back and take stock and sort out what writing has promise, and what doesn’t, later."

Read more:


Attention Writers, Reviewers, & Editors: What are your pet peeves?

Submitted by mercieca on September 25, 2011 - 4:14pm

Dear Blogarians,

Over on facebook some of us have been chatting about academic writing. I've taken up Professor Beard's invitation to bring the discussion over here, where it can reach a larger audience.

What advice do you have to share for graduate students and others who are still finding their academic "voice"? What writing quirks, ticks, or mistakes make you cringe when you review or edit academic writing? What writing mistakes are so egregious that they make you (want to) reject an essay?

My short list of pet peeves:

1. Using passive voice. Agents act!


Letting Go... Breaking up is Hard to Do (with a Final Version of a Chapter)

Submitted by syntaxfactory on September 2, 2011 - 6:55am

I am in the position I almost always find myself in: two days past a deadline with a full day's writing ahead of me. And while it's the first week of class, blah blah blah, reasons excuses aplenty, I am old enough now to know:

When it's time for a final revision of a piece, I freak. I tweak it, I read mountains of unnecessary sources to add, I hide from it, I slaughter whole sections of it, forcing massive and likely unnecessary revisions of it. I engage a revision dance that, I'm sure, at one level, as I engage it, is designed to make a better piece.


Two Charleses on a Christmas History of Writing from WPA-L

Submitted by syntaxfactory on December 25, 2010 - 8:23pm

From: Chuck Paine
Date: Friday, December 24, 2010 3:27 pm
Subject: [WPA-L] Centennial of Adams Sherman Hill's death

> Tomorrow is the centennial of Adams Sherman
> Hill’s death, Fifth Boylston Professor at
> Harvard. On December 25, 1910, he died of
> “apoplexy”; he was 77 years old (leaving
> behind two sons, by the way, one of whom did
> very decent work in the defense of Sacco and
> Vanzetti). For those unfamiliar with A.S.
> Hill, he has served at times as the human
> symbol of the accursed current-traditional


Free Speech Gets a Week? Writing Gets a Day!

Submitted by syntaxfactory on October 20, 2010 - 7:01am

How is your institution celebrating?