Writing is Thinking

This group is co-convened by Sarah Beckwith, Toril Moi, and Cathy Shuman.

The project builds on several related convictions.  Good writing is good thinking.  As such it is integral to intellectual work.  The words we use express our knowledge. In the eyes of others, our knowledge is never better than the words we use to express them.  Conversely by learning to pay attention to the work of words, we also learn to pay renewed attention to our ideas. The result is a wish to reformulate, rewrite, not for the sake of external stylistic norms but for the sake of the power of thought.  Moreover, writing is a craft. It is a central topic in literary studies and its essential medium. Paying attention to the craft of writing helps improve our own academic writing, and also helps those who wish to do so to communicate to non-academic audiences, to common readers who care about literature and culture.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, who will be the Blackburn writer in residence in Spring 2019, will be asked to run a workshop for this group. In addition, Helen MacDonald, the great best-selling nature/memoir writer (H is for Hawk) has expressed an interest in coming to Duke next year, and the group is hoping to have her host an event as she would be an ideal speaker, especially in conjunction with Klinkenborg who wrote the nature columns for The New York Times for many years.