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Monday - 9:50 a.m. 
MU 305

How to Publish Essays 

Sarah Novacich

 How to Publish Essays

This course considers the form and function of the scholarly essay, focuses on revision, and demystifies aspects of the publication process. The practical goal is to transform a piece of writing – seminar paper, shorter essay, or dissertation chapter – into an article that you can submit to a journal by the end of the semester. Much of the course will be conducted as a workshop, in which we will read each other’s work with generous attention and offer productive written comments as well as in-class suggestions. Writing a publishable essay is difficult work, but it is also surprisingly tricky to give truly helpful advice to someone else attempting to write one. The premise of the course is that learning to provide this kind of assistance is one of the most helpful ways of improving one’s own essay writing skills.

Over the course of the semester, we will discuss sentence and paragraph structure, clarity and pace of argument, the balance between overviews of critical conversations and one’s own interventions, the place of close reading, the use of theoretical and technical vocabularies, the importance of readability, the cultivation of a personal style, and the pleasure of writing. Besides workshopping our own essays, we will read a number of articles in a variety of styles; learn how to research journals to become familiar with their profiles, submission policies, and decision timeframes; discuss how to choose a home for your work, how to know when you are ready to submit an essay, and how to respond to readers’ reports or handle rejection. Through weekly conversation and rounds of revision, you will learn (or become more aware of) what you admire most about yourself as a writer, as well as practice honestly identifying tendencies you are ready to change. Finally, this class will prepare you to become professionals in your discipline in a number of ways: it will offer a more (historically, methodologically) expansive view of our shared discipline through the opportunity to read each other’s work, provide a focus on writing and research skills, and hone pedagogical instincts. 

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