Monday, August 12, 2013

Quote of the Day

"At Yale, when we arrived, all was calm; it was as if the '60s never happened.  The students had only one agenda--to get an education--and one of the things they wanted to learn was how to write clearly.  During the permissive '60s their high school teachers had urged them to 'let it all hang out,' regardless of grammar or syntax.  Now they found they had been deprived of knowing how to express themselves: how to harness the world they lived in.  My course looked like salvation in the desert.

The students' cry for help wasn't lost on Yale's English Department.  At that time the department was the epicenter of 'deconstruction' and other faddish studies in the clinical analysis of texts.  Its emphasis was not on how to write but on how to dissect what other people had written.  The great writers on the Yale faculty weren't the English professors; they were the history professors--robust stylists like Edmund S. Morgan, C. Vann Woodward, George Pierson, Jonathan Spence and John Morton Blum...."

-William Zinsser, Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past, p. 129