Thursday, February 22, 2007

Boldness...I like the font better...

"Don't be afraid to make bold statements." -Deborah Siegel

So, in a recent meeting with my thesis advisor, it was brought to my attention that I am a big fan of the passive voice. Tramlow pointed out that, well, I seem to qualify most every assertion I make. In fact, I sometimes try to sneak major points past readers through understatement. My response? But I was socialized as a girl! I don't make strong statements! I'm not supposed to! To which Tramlow replied, more or less, "Well, stop being a girl." (In a good, gender-aware way, of course.)

Which is very similar to the encouragement I have heard given by Deborah Siegel to aspiring (feminist) authors: be bold.

It's great advice. But, somewhere in this land of academia, I have learned academicese (or perhaps caught a case of academicitis?). And, with my ear keen to listen for polyphony, I do get caught up in worry over the dominating monologue that becomes one's M.A. thesis. Sure, I have strong opinions, but I don't want to impose them on anyone. Can't I just tell you about all the research in the field and let you read between the lines to see where I stand? I mean, obviously, if I cite theorist X in Y way then I must think Z...

Okay. So that is a glaringly bad writing strategy. But what if I make strong statements and I am, well, wrong? (Congrats! You've started a debate that will endure for years in the academy!) Or, what if I am bold and, well, right? And other people agree with me? And want me to say more? (Congrats! You have a book deal!) And what if I get all assertive and, well, no one listens? (Congrats! You can stop stressing over audience response from an audience that does not exist.)

I'm glad that I have you blog readers who do not seem to mind my bold statements or qualified assertions...or even my self-effacing stories. At least I can fall back on the old peer-review excuse if I get too bold...

[A bit paralyzed in terms of writing and looking at the bellybutton.]


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