A Call for Slow Writing

Lindsay Waters, Inside Higher Ed:

[T]he first step to re-establishing the essay as the standard in
humanistic writing is to reinvigorate the sentences we write, so that,
when one reads an essay, one feels it. One feels it the way one tastes
— and here I’m going global — a good curry. It really sets you back. Or
maybe forward. Style, maniera, modo is what we readers demand. The
humanists of the Renaissance knew the Romans had the ability to put
sentences that had concinnitas, but that their ancestors in what we
call the Middle Ages had lost that ability. When the Ancients
constructed the Arch of Constantine, it stayed together for centuries,
even though neglected. Concinnity — what a splendid word!

It seems to me that when bad styling of sentences became accepted,
we got used to it. We compensated for the lack of quality and impact of
the sentences that people wrote as evidence of their scholarly
abilities by asking them for more of them in the hopes we could get the
same buzz going that we used to get from fewer sentences. Last year I
ran a panel at the Modern Language Association on “Slow Reading,” and
today I’m advocating slow writing. Editors are in the position to make this change take place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *