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Being Boring...

I think that's a line from a song by the Pet Shop Boys but my knowledge of all things musical is very limited.  And anyway it's not relevant to what I'm going to write about, just the machinations of my muddled mind.

At the moment one of my tasks is preparing to submit my reearch work for an MPhil - I decided to 'exit' the doctoral programme on health grounds and assumed, rather naively, that the task to tidy up and submit my work would be minimal, afterall, everything had already been submitted and judged adequate along the way.  Alas, no.  It seems that it has to be re-worked from a portfolio of discrete items into a single contiguous thesis, hardly the work of five minutes.  I think I can find a way to do it that will minimise the level of re-writing - and I'm secretly quite pleased with my idea - but I am waiting conformation that this approach is OK and will not exceed the word count blah blah blah.

Meantime I started looking at the first of the papers yesterday - it is so B-O-R-I-N-G I cannot believe I wrote such a dull (and frankly not so great) paper.  So today when I did a quick blog review it was a relief to find the person who supervised and mark it posting on boring writing (here), and by a little following of links to discover that he even told other people that academic writing is meant to be boring (here).  So, I will do some overhauling of my ultra-boring paper but clearly it mustn't become jolly or the academy won't like it....

Today I have other less boring things to think about, but over the next weeks I will be being boring and turning my sow's ear into a pigskin purse fit for the boring eyes of the academy.



  • This is one (of many) reasons I don't want to do any more academic study. I just can't write academically! I was told that one Masters essay I wrote 'broke all the rules' of Christian Doctrine academic writing! (Mind you I did get a distinction for it - go figure). Maybe its about time the 'style' was challenged!

  • Sorry. Don't agree. Academic and boring are not synonymous descriptors for that writing which aims at precision, passion, significance and that elusive but essential requirement existential purchase. At least as applied to theology.

    Think I'm going to write more on this - but before then might read Alan Lewis Between Cross and Resurrection, Ulrich Luz on the Beatitudes, Kathryn Tanner on Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity, or Walter Brueggemann on anything.

    All academics writing academically and could count on one hand the boring pages.... soporific writing (defined as soprorific reading by a reader asleep), obtuse reasoning, opaque thinking, grammatical and syntactical mauling, abstract obfuscating, gnostic sounding techno-jargon discoursing - these are simply what they are - bad writing, academic or otherwise.

    I suppose I'm asking in my gentle way :)) - need academic writing be boring? And, would it not be in the interests of the academy to ensure that between boring academic esoteria and banal dumbed down populist infospeak, there is scholarship - pure and simple. Or am I an idealist?

  • Hi Jim, the middle course is what I'm aiming at, which is why I have my cunning plan on how to turn my four diverse papers into one deliverable (why tell students to write in four distinct genres then require them to blend them?). I think my very boring paper is very boring cos it's not good - which was the result of trying to bow to the academy. When an engineer turns practical theologian the results are inevitably "interesting" ;-))

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