Monday, January 3, 2011

Elitist Writing & Frustrated Reading - A Brief Rant

I've always found big words and the idea of expanding one's vocabulary to its highest level fascinating. I would often find synonyms in Microsoft Word to replace "simple/easy" words with terms that were twice as long and sounded intelligent. Over the years, my lexicon became quite expansive, I was able to indulge in conversations and readings on a scholarly level, and I was able to condense a few sentences into a few words. I especially remember grinning ear to ear when my Dad could no longer read any of the material I would write in college essays (This also probably had something to do with the foreign nature of the topic). However, once I got further into my major I began to become more and more frustrated by unexplained terms in anthropology literature. Works by Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Paul Stoller, and countless others forced me to reread passages over and over again without gaining much ground. Many of my colleagues felt the same way and resorted to simply listening to the professor's explanation of the text.

I understand anthropology and any other respective discipline has specific terminology that one simply can not and should not have to simply every time. For example, words like 'cultural capital' or 'deterritorialization' must be learned by young scholars as they encompass specific notions, activities, histories, contexts, and so forth. These words, however, become problematic when the reader is not aware of their meanings, how and when they are to be used, and especially if they are used in conjunction with other challenging words.

Steps need to be taken to explore ways in reducing elitist writing methods performed by scholars (who may either be conscious or unconscious of this habit). Hopefully I didn't contradict myself by using any terms that are beyond my audience...

This guy knows what I'm talking about -

No comments:

Post a Comment