Saturday, July 09, 2016

pretentious academic language

Found via my Twitter feed: this humorous article on how to write like a pretentious academic, which will require you to employ an arsenal of postmodernist bullshit buzzwords.

Some examples:

Titles. Once upon a time, scholars thought titles should be succinct and descriptive. Now we know better. Instead, introduce your work with an unintelligible phrase such as “Interrupted Modernity”, “Sovereign Emergencies”, “Overthrowing Geography” or “Violent Accumulation”. “Bodies that Speak” and “Empires without Imperialism” also make for great titles, even if bodies cannot speak and empires cannot exist without imperialism. Everyone knows that confusion attracts attention. Obscure quotes also make for great titles, especially if they include grammatical errors or antiquated speech. “Oh motherland I pledge to thee”, “What does not respect borders” and “Fortress Europe in the field” are good examples.

Invented words. Language is subject to your imagination, not the other way around. Change nouns into adjectives and adjectives into nouns. “Hypervisibility”, “interagentivity”, “interanimality”, “precoloniality”, “spaciality” and “subalternity” are all great words. Count the number of words you’ve invented or new concepts you’ve employed. Try doubling it.

Between, beyond and towards. Study the stuff “between empire and identities”. Go beyond the Arab Spring, beyond desire. Work towards a post-Marxist historiography or theory of counter-modernity. Write about the genealogy of something or, better still, towards the genealogy of something. “Toward a genealogy of black female sexuality” – perfect!

Read the rest. Humanities academics really do write like this. Oh, and there's also Andrew Sullivan's 2014 Poseur Alert of the Year Nominees—with writing samples! (Although to be honest, I actually kinda like the funny and poetic paragraph on smoking by Will Self.)


TheBigHenry said...

Without pretentious bullshit we wouldn't have enjoyable mockery.

Kevin Kim said...

True enough.

Surprises Aplenty said...

"Once upon a time, scholars thought titles should be succinct and descriptive."
I thought that in general titles had become shorter.

For example: "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life"
Hmm. I had to look the full title up. Did Darwin really write 'favored' without a 'u'? Is that an American edition or is it only Canadians who add a 'u'? "Favoured"

More recently, "Your Inner Fish"