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Academic Writing 

Academic Writing

Writing and Reading Across the Disciplines

Written by: Janet Giltrow

3rd Edition

Publication Date: March 20, 2002
421pp • Paperback
ISBN: 9781551113951 / 1551113953

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CDN & US $56.95

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Academic Writing is a unique introduction to the subject. As the author puts it in her preface, "this book develops from a strong claim: namely, that style is meaningful." In developing that theme, the author draws meaningfully on theory, especially genre theory, while remaining grounded in the particular. Giltrow presents and discusses examples of actual academic writing of the sort that students must learn to deal with daily, and to write themselves. As newcomers to the scholarly community, students can find that community's ways of reading and writing mysterious, unpredictable and intimidating. Academic Writing demystifies the scholarly genres, shedding light on their discursive conventions and on academic readers' expectations and values. Throughout, Academic Writing respects the student writer; it engages the reader's interest without ever condescending, and it avoids the arbitrary and the dogmatic.

The book also offers abundant exercises to help the student develop techniques for working productively at each stage of the scholarly writing process; mastering and summarizing difficult scholarly sources; planning; and revising to create good working conditions for the reader.

The third edition of Giltrow's extremely successful book incorporates extensive revisions that integrate the theoretical perspectives of genre theory into the whole of the book in a more organic fashion; the changes are designed to make the book both more attuned to scholarly practice and more accessible to the undergraduate student.

Giltrow's Academic Reading is designed as an accompanying reader for Academic Writing.

Comments on previous editions:

"In no other composition text have I found as rich an explanation of qualitative research methods—a systematic approach to research and analysis." - Nancie Burns-McCoy, University of Idaho

"Academic Writing is a superb book. It is steeped in contemporary rhetorical theory, packed with examples of writing in the disciplines, and full of unusual and effective exercises. The book is eminently practical: it helps the reader understand and enter into the discourse of academic life." - Anthony Pare, Director, Centre for the Study and Teaching of Writing, McGill University

Janet Giltrow is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of British Columbia. Her articles have appeared in such journals as American Literature, Sinn und Form, Style, Technostyle, Studies in the Novel, Modern Language Review, and Technical Writing and Communication, and in collections on feminist narratology, genre theory, and ESL, as well as in collections on other topics in rhetoric and literary studies. She is winner of the 3M Teaching Fellowship.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]


Chapter One: Introducing genre

1.1 Hearing voices

1.2 Hearing genres

1.3 What is an essay, Alex?

Chapter Two: Citation, summary, and authority

2.1 Citation

     2.1.1 “Citation is peculiar to scholarly writing”

     2.1.2 “Scholarly writers repeat others to sound impressive and authoritative”

2.2 Summary

     2.2.1 Noting for gist

     2.2.2 Recording levels

     2.2.3 Coordinates of the summarizer's position

2.3 Reporting reporting

2.4 Extreme landscapes

     2.4.1 High country

     2.4.2 Low country

2.5 Narrative: a special case for summary

Chapter Three: Arrangements for readers, arrangements for speakers

3.1 Definitions and appositions

     3.1.1 Sustained definitions

     3.1.2 The social profile of abstractions and their different roles in different disciplines

     3.1.3 Definitions and dictionaries

3.2 Orchestrating voices, making arrangements for speakers

     3.2.1 When the guests already know each other

     3.2.2 When the guests live in the same district but may not know each other

     3.2.3 When some guests know one another but others do not

     3.2.4 When some guests are rather difficult to entertain

     3.2.5 When the guest has all the answers

     3.2.6 When the guest is a popular guy

     3.2.7 When the speaker is on-line

Chapter Four: Readers reading

4.1 Who do you think you're talking to?

     4.1.1 Attitudes toward language

4.2 Traditions of commentary on student writing

4.3 Alternatives to traditional commentary

     4.3.1 Catching the reader in the act: the think-aloud protocol

     4.3.2 The sounds of think-aloud

     4.3.3 Reading on behalf of others

     4.3.4 Thinking "grammar" aloud

     4.3.5 The ambiguity of questions

     4.3.6 Think-aloud and genre theory

     4.3.7 Reliability of readers

4.4 Structures of reading

     4.4.1 Abstraction, details, and readers' efforts after meaning

     4.4.2 Relevance

     4.4.3 The mental desktop

4.5 Readers read

Chapter Five: Scholarly styles and the limits of knowledge 

5.1 Scholarly wordings

     5.1.1 Is scholarly writing unnecessarily complicated?

     5.1.2 Is scholarly style exclusionary and elitist?

     5.1.3 Is scholarly style hard to read?

5.2 Sentence style and textual coherence

5.3 Messages about the argument

     5.3.1 The argument refers to itself

     5.3.2 The discursive I

     5.3.3 Forecasts and emphasis

5.4 The state of knowledge: limits, conditions, positions

     5.4.1 Introductions: generalization and citation

     5.4.2 Introductions: reported speech

     5.4.3 Reported speech: direct and indirect

     5.4.4 Reported speech: identifying the speaker

     5.4.5 Reported speech: naming the speech action

5.5 Documentation

5.6 Introductions: the knowledge deficit

5.7 Making and maintaining knowledge

     5.7.1 Methods

     5.7.2 Modality and other limiting expressions

5.8 Time and Space

     5.8.1 Tense and citation

5.9 Presupposing vs. asserting

5.10 Conclusions

Chapter Six: The politics of knowledge and the case of ethnography

6.1 "Readability" and "objectivity"

6.2 Embracing the subject

     6.2.1 Unanimity and dissent, unity and division

6.3 Knowledge and power

6.4 Qualitative research

6.5 Ethnography

     6.5.1 Post-colonial views of ethnography

     6.5.2 Talking back, taking power

6.6 Constructing ethnographic topics

     6.6.1 Representing ethnographic method and background

     6.6.2 Interpreting ethnographic data

6.7 Assignment: ethnography

     6.7.1 Research questions

     6.7.2 Suggested areas of inquiry

6.8 Preparing a proposal

6.9 Making an oral presentation

     6.9.1 Making your material fit the time available

     6.9.2 Keep in mind that written and spoken English differ

Appendix A: Techniques for definition

Appendix B: Arranging for speakers to enter into conversation

Primary Documents


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Academic Writing

2002 • 421pp • Paperback • 9781551113951 / 1551113953

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.