Stylish Academic Writing: A Discussion with Helen Sword


Today’s book is: Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard UP, 2012), by Helen Sword, which dispels the myth that you only get published by writing wordy, impersonal prose. Dr. Sword reveals that journal editors and readers alike welcome work that avoids excessive jargon and abstraction. Her analysis of more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles across a range of fields documents the startling gap between how academics describe good writing, and the prose they actually produce. Too few scholars were taught how to create accessible prose, a problem Stylish Academic Writing addresses by showcasing works from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences written with both vividness and panache. Individual chapters take up specific elements of style, such as titles and headings, chapter openings, and structure. Stylish Academic Writing also offers examples of transferable techniques that any writer can master.

Our guest is: Dr. Helen Sword who is an international expert on academic, professional, and creative writing across the disciplines. She received her PhD in comparative literature from Princeton University, and is a former Professor of Humanities at the University of Auckland. She now specializes in facilitating retreats, workshops, and masterclasses. She is the author of The Writer’s Diet; Air and Light, Space and Time: How Successful Academics Write; Writing With Pleasure; and Stylish Academic Writing.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the creator and show host of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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