Re: Cross about Fabian comment

Mon, 4 Apr 1994 00:33:35 EST

styles. Rick Wilk has made a good point . . . good writing styles and
good ideas are the results of two separate sets of skills. Frankly, I
would rather struggle to comprehend the good ideas through a bad style
. . . than I would read well written and enjoyable `pap.' However, to
each their own.
The point I want to make is that (considering the current crisis
in literacy permeating American intellectual life, including an all too
frequent lack of familiarity with the perennial questions or interest
in theorization, too often truly good ideas . . . precisely written by
the author . . . are simply not understood by the reader . . . and thus
criticised as poor writing: not always, but too often.
Actually, my comment is feedback . . . one of the largest complaints
that I've heard in the last five years from students is that the text books
and articles they are assigned to read have too big a vocabulary for them
. . . and they hate it. Since I teach both sociology and anthropology, the
feedback is coming from students taking introductory and intermediate courses
in the social sciences. As a teacher, my biggest critique is that the students
- for the most part - have not been prepared to cope with the basic
requirementsof intellectual life in their preparatory educations.

John O'Brien
Indiana University