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{ Category Archives } Writing Pedantry

Punctuation matters: establishing your ethos (or failing to)

Like many writing and rhetoric instructors, I focus a lot of energy on helping students wrestle with the concept of ethos, the image, reputation, and authority the author presents on her own behalf to the reader.  This concept becomes most important as we discuss two issues writers must face: proper grammar and citations. With citations, […]

Shorter and simpler?

From Lowering the Bar: Writing (or speaking) at a higher grade level is not a good thing, or at least not necessarily. What these particular numbers really measure (at least the Flesch-Kincaid test) is the complexity and length of sentences. It says nothing about how accurate or intelligent the sentences are, and all else being equal, the […]

Ethos, or Stay Classy

I recently sold a futon/bunk bed on Craigslist, pricing it relatively low so as to get rid of it quickly.  I had a number of nice inquiries, but I also had this one: Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2011 14:10:45 -0600 Subject: Futon couch/bed with twin bunk above – $50 (Forest Park, IL) From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX To: […]

Are Blogs Dead?

My three minutes from the excellent roundtable discussion at Computers and Writing 2011 session e13 this morning.  Here you go: I’ve seen the best ideas of my presentation offered by scholars smarter than I.  Consider this a coda or an echo to the conversations that have come before. I’ve kept a blog since November of […]

On revealing exposition and inspiration, also an invitation.

So I’ve been trying my hand at some short-story writing this summer, and it’s not going too badly, if I do say so.  We’ll see how it goes when I start sending the stories out to accumulate some rejection letters.  But a couple thoughts: On revealing exposition.  The stories I’ve been working on are SF […]

Why Am I Writing This?

Andrew Kozma, poet and playwright extraordinare, recently wrote a post about getting food from a co-op.  Toward the end of the post, he writes: Why is this important to me? [Yes, why? –ed.] Why am I writing about this? [I already asked. –ed.] Here I could ladle out a metaphor stringing cooking and writing together, […]


Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation (A Polemic in Seven Fits), by David Denby, narrated by William Dufris Denby’s “Polemic in Seven Fits” seeks to categorize and understand the modern tendency toward snarky writing and commentary.  Denby makes the argument that snark works in a similar mode as satire and irony, […]

It bugs me to no end…

That Simon and Garfunkel say …I wish I was Homeward bound. instead of …I wish I were Homeward bound. I know was has a better sound in the phrase, but it bugs me.

Damn you, marketing survey folks!

I can understand not minding poor punctuation, but forcing it? Come on. Always the rebel, I tried using the shift key and was blocked by a pop up that says “This feature has been disabled.”

Organic TV

A thought, not fleshed out. Entertainment Weekly had an article this week explaining that product placement is up and going to keep going up in television shows.  The newest debacle is Jingles, the reality show in which contestants come up with ad campaigns for real products.  Why don’t they just televise ad agency spitball sessions.  […]

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The next podcast from my Writing and Rhetoric 2 class. In this one, I explain my approach to editing at the college level. Influenced by the U.S. swim trials right now, I use elite swimming as a metaphor for learning to edit at the college level. It works pretty well, I think. Podcast below the […]

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In the Restaurant!

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson I seem to be on a Bryson binge lately, somehow finding myself reading two of his books at the same time.  We have three more on the shelf downstairs, but it will be a while before I read another.  This book was […]

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How to email a professor

Not as many

The “naked ‘this'”