Friday, March 18, 2005

About this Blog

This blog is still in its early stages. Its aim is to provide a forum for discussion about academic writing, construing this problematic as a matter of acquiring a specific disciplinary idiom for the communication of research results.

I have come to see this problem from two opposite but, on the face of it, equal perspectives. First, there is the problem of representation, the problem of reconstructing the objects that define the domain of one's research, and therefore of presenting the facts of inquiry that are relevant to the discourse one is working within. Second, there is the problem (borrowing a term from Foucault) of "depresentification", the problem of deconstructing the subjects that define the domain of one's research, and therefore of presenting the acts of governance that are relevant to one's discourse.

In both cases, the problem of writing emerges as the problem of developing a suitable style of presentation, of appropriating what may loosely be called respectively a "modern" or "postmodern" academic idiom. It is a matter of learning how to write in order to get one's point across most effectively, and most efficiently.

All this, of course, must often be done in English. And these problems are therefore aggravated for people who are trying to enter discipline that are in most cases dominated by standard English from the position of a non-native speaker. These problem, I want to show, are by no means insurmountable. Here, as elsewhere, it is a matter of continual practice.

As the blog develops, then, I will introduce particulars of grammar that are peculiar to a variety of academic discourses in the hopes of making a few limited but useful contributions. I am very interested to hear when I am being helpful and when I am not. Also, I will try to answer questions to the best of my abilities. Comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.

1 comment:

Jim C said...

The appropriation of idiomatic disciplinary expression poses, I think, interesting questions regarding “intellectual style” — that is, the ways in which one poses and thinks about intellectual questions. Let me take an awkward stab at what I’m trying to express. I wonder what we can get at regarding the nature of intellectual thought, by looking at the process of non-native English speakers acquiring fluent academic English. What I have in mind is this: One aspect of critical intellectual thought is what can be called “second-order thinking” (or thinking about thinking). I wonder in the course of Basbøll’s project, if we might get a better idea of how intellectuals formulate, pose and critically examine (at a second order) inquiry by looking at how non-native English speakers acquire idiomatic disciplinary expression (in English). Just a thought.