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A Geopolitics Of Academic Writing

A Geopolitics Of Academic Writing

A. Suresh Canagarajah
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  • Book Info
    A Geopolitics Of Academic Writing
    Book Description:

    Milton Studiesis published annually by the University of Pittsburgh Press as a forum for Milton scholarship and criticism. The journal defines the literary, intellectual, and historical contexts that impacted Milton by studying the work of his contemporaries, seventeenth century political and religious movements, his influence on other writers, and the history of critical response to his work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7238-9
    Subjects: Education, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. The Problem
    (pp. 1-7)

    ʺIn China, a Spectacular Trove of Dinosaur Fossils Is Foundʺ triumphantly proclaims the front-page headline of theNew York Timesof 25 April 1997. Datelined from Philadelphia the previous day, the first paragraph states: “An international team of paleontologists announced today that a fabulous trove of dinosaur fossils had been discovered in a remote region of northeast China.” This international team is later introduced as comprising four members from American universities and another from a German university. Going by the journalistic penchant for immediacy and timeliness, readers might interpret the finding to have been made very recently, by this team....

  2. The Project
    (pp. 8-31)

    With the simmering ethnic conflict between Tamil and Sinhalese communities taking a violent turn in 1983, many areas in Sri Lanka experienced the destruction of the meager technological facilities we had previously enjoyed. In Jaffna (where I lived while teaching at the local university), power supply was disrupted, as cables and power stations had sustained heavy damage during the fighting. Fuel, too, was banned by the state, as much of the region was controlled by the rebel militia. At night, students crowded around the streetlamps set up by the Red Cross with the aid of small power generators. We, being...

  3. 1. Contextualizing Academic Writing
    (pp. 32-49)

    I focus in this book on a type of academic writing called the research article (RA). These are articles usually refereed by respected scholars in the field before getting published in specialized academic journals. Among the different genres of academic writing practiced (e.g., abstracts, book reviews, grant proposals, research prospectuses, dissertations, textbooks, and research monographs), the RA holds an important place in knowledge construction. For a variety of reasons, the most typical product of a scholarly study is its published article (Swales 1990, 93–95). The short length and narrow scope of the article enable researchers to try out sections...

  4. 2. Communities of Knowledge Construction
    (pp. 50-76)

    The audience for the meeting convened by what is called the Academic Forum at the University of Jaffna has gathered in large numbers and with unusual excitement. A paper entitled “Accounting for the Name and Prestige of Panditamani”—written in Tamil by a senior professor in linguistics—has been circulated to the audience prior to the meeting.¹ The paper explores the life and work of a respected localpunditwho was posthumously granted an honorary doctorate by the university.² The reason for the excitement is that this paper is considered a follow-up to one that the author presented earlier on...

  5. 3. Conventions in Knowledge Construction
    (pp. 77-101)

    Although the author of the paper on Panditamani adopts the position that an empirical approach assures an undistorted/direct access to reality, there are many conventions that mediate his presentation. In claiming greater accuracy and objectivity for his own depiction of thepundit’s life, the author overlooks the values brought in by the communicative conventions shaping his presentation.

    Consider the conventions involved in getting to present this paper in the Academic Forum in the first place. Not everybody can call a meeting of the forum to give their lecture at any time they want. The scholar has to indicate his interest...

  6. 4. Textual Conventions in Conflict
    (pp. 102-156)

    Raj knew that he had to finish writing the paper soon. When he first discovered the ways in which languages were alternated by local people to redefine their roles and relationships, he thought he had stumbled upon an original insight. He assumed that his social-constructionist perspective would challenge the dominant correlationist treatment of codeswitching. But since writing the introduction to his paper four months back, he had heard of at least three new books that had come out in North America developing a similar perspective.¹ He was now getting despondent, worrying that after all the hard work he was going...

  7. 5. Publishing Requirements and Material Constraints
    (pp. 157-182)

    Putting pen to paper and composing thoughts coherently doesn’t complete the publishing process. There are many other requirements one has to meet in order to see the paper in print in an academic journal. These are the publishing practices and conventions, which are usually treated as having no implications for the language, content, or style of writing—requirements such as the format of the copy text; bibliographical and documentation conventions; the weight and quality of the paper; the copies and postage required; the procedures in negotiating revisions; and the styles of interaction with the editors and reviewers. Part of these...

  8. 6. Literacy Practices and Academic Culture
    (pp. 183-232)

    This time the Academic Forum at UJ gathered to listen to a scholar from outside the university.¹ The presenter—Mr. S. Paranirupasingham, a retired secondary school teacher—was not university trained. He spoke on the same figure whom a senior professor in the university had previously discussed in the Academic Forum (see chapters 2 and 3). The paper was titled “Mr. P. Kailasapathy and His Search for Truth.” This was yet another contribution to the ongoing conversation on the life and work of the local savant Panditamani, who was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate by the university. The speaker’s intention...

  9. 7. Poverty and Power in Knowledge Production
    (pp. 233-264)

    We have already encountered A. J. in the previous pages as a man of prodigious reading and radical perspectives, a thinker who had a tremendous influence on young academics in Jaffna through his mere friendship and conversation. As for making his own contribution to knowledge, A. J. was surprisingly hesitant. To begin with, his academic position was marginalized even locally. Although he held a special degree (i.e., had “majored”) in English literature for his bachelor’s degree, he had never proceeded to do graduate studies. He often bemoaned the lack of opportunities that made him indefinitely postpone traveling abroad for higher...

  10. 8. Reform, Resistance, Reconstruction
    (pp. 265-306)

    In a narrow corridor on the second floor of an aging building, flanked by a collection of small offices including one for himself, sits busily typing Prof. Dr. Peter Schalk—the chair of the Department of the History of Religions at Uppsala University (Sweden). He is putting the finishing touches on the next issue of the journalLanka. As soon as some of the minor editorial changes are made, the journal will be ready to mail all over the world. Professor Schalk has been publishing this journal for the past five years. His laptop and the laser printer (which sits...