“Writing is not the memorialization of ideas. Writing distills, crafts, and pressure-tests ideas – it creates ideas,” writes Eric Hayot in The Elements of Academic Style.
“You cannot know what your ideas are, mean, or do until you set them down in sentences, whether on paper or on screen. It is also why the essay or the book you write will not be, if you are open and generous and unafraid, the essay or book you started with. To understand that process as a good thing and to develop a writing practice that helps you inhabit it: those are the two projects of this book,” he continues.
Hayot’s book attempts to focus specifically on academic style at the sentence level; on a larger scale, he looks at the “psychological and working structures” needed to write as well as the genre of academic writing as a whole.
Hayot, a professor of comparative literature and Asian studies at the Pennsylvania State University, is the author of On Literary Worlds, The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain, and Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel Quel.
“The Elements of Academic Style is an utter tour de force, a guide to scholarly writing in the humanities that manages to be at once lively, funny, absorbing, rigorous, and immensely insightful. It offers a wealth of advice from the minute and grammatical to the disciplinary and career-changing, even as it probes deeply into the humanities as they are actually practiced, in the nitty gritty of our writing,” praises Sarah Cole, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.