An Invitation

Happy New Year!

To get it started right, I just cleaned up the page for the Writing Process Reengineering course that I ran back in November, and which now serves as a standing resource for anyone who wants to go it alone. I’ve added a short podcast at the top to invite you to write 40 paragraphs over 4 weeks (2 paragraphs a day, 5 days a week). If you accept it, I’m ready to help.

Your commitment is about 9 hours of instruction and about 20 hours of writing. The “deal” is that you write each paragraph in a disciplined and deliberate fashion, always deciding the day before what you are going to say. To support you in this endeavor, I have provided 20 podcasts that are intended to be listened to at the end of each weekday during the four-week process. Like I usually say, if you want to work in some completely different way I will try to help if you ask, but I’m not sure how good I’ll be at it. If you are doing things my way, however, I know exactly how to help you do it better.

The course page is still a work in progress. I’m considering replacing all the seminar recordings with made-for-video (or perhaps audio) content, rather than a livestream recording. And I will add some nice drawings this month too. So if you’re on board, you can look forward to an active site for writing-related content.

My intellectual project for this year, or at least this semester, is to develop an epistemological model of the scholarly paragraph. I want to see what happens if we approach the composition of a paragraph as the performance of the competence we call being “knowledgeable”. Instead of approaching this as I usually do, as a “unit of composition”, I want to take the paragraph as an instance of knowing (which resonates nicely with what I already call “the writing moment”). A good scholarly paragraph is evidence that the scholar knows some particular thing. So we can analyse paragraphs in order to understand what knowledge (or at least academic knowledge) is.

That’s what I’m going to be talking about this year every chance I get. The prose paragraph is the essence of academic writing and academic writing is the essence of scholarly knowledge. If you can’t put it in writing — if you can’t compose a coherent prose paragraph about it — you don’t really know something “for academic purposes”. I realize that that’s a pretty hard line to take here at the start of the year. But it’s winter and it’s dark here in Denmark so please bear with me.

Spring isn’t that far away!

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