Featured Post

part of the preface

When students only have read a few poems, in exclusively academic contexts, they often approach poetry with what the li...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Zambrano Sans Signposting

Here is an introductory paragraph with no signposting:
No other figure in Spanish intellectual history has been more influential in shaping the “late modernism” of the turn of the twenty-first century than the philosopher María Zambrano (1904-1991). Her attempt to heal the rift between poetic and philosophical thought in her first major work, Filosofía y poesía (1939), determined the direction taken by late modernists like José Ángel Valente and Antonio Gamoneda and by women poets like Chantal Maillard. Many of Zambrano’s most significant books appeared in the second half of the twentieth century (some after her death), resulting in an intense interest in her work.

Zambrano, then, is a major Spanish modernist writer who comes into her own at a much later date...

The trick will be to cast the paragraph in which I will explain what it is I'm doing with no signposting. Transitions are still allowed. I'm still allowed to put forward what I'm doing in the rest of the paper, just not to say "my argument is that..." or "This paper will have three sections. In the first one, I will..."

I'm using Thomas Bøsball's structure of 40 paragraphs, mapping them out beforehand as far as possible. I've speculated in the past that excessive signposting often creeps in to compensate for defects in organization. The reader will only miss signposting if she is confused about where the paper is headed or if she cannot make sense of the digressions.

I am also eliminating hedges. If I am extremely accurate in what I affirm, then I don't have to say "perhaps" or "arguably." Anyway, since I am the author, everything I write is my thought, my opinion, so to say "in my opinion" is to say something that goes without saying. I will use the first person singular only to refer to myself in a biographical sense, not to talk about myself as the authorial voice you are now hearing.

There may be nothing wrong with hedges and signposting. I want to move my own prose toward a more classic mode. That's where I'm at right now, but I can also imagine telling a student to learn how to signpost more effectively.

No comments: