Big Project Update 2: Stylistic stumbling blocks

You all may or may not remember that my big project involves writing profiles on various female characters in 18th century French literature. My intention was -- is -- to treat them as real people, and to examine their roles as troublemakers in their respective worlds. That's going quite well, and I'm finding all sorts of things I hadn't noticed in my original readings of these texts. 

My major stumbling block (after actually getting to work, that is!) is one of style. My original concept was to write these profiles in the style of magazine articles. However, I've been trying to reference texts we've read in class, and here is my problem: I don't know how to write this. I am having a hard time writing about Judith Butler in a casual (or at least, a non-academic) style, and I am having an even harder time writing about Judith Butler in relation to a fictional character in a casual style. I've gone back to read what I've written, and it sounds very stilted.

I have two ideas to circumvent this issue. The first is to abandon the ties with texts from class and deal entirely with concepts as opposed to direct references (IE talking about being beside oneself, but not saying, "As Judith Butler writes..."). The second idea is to abandon the idea of this particular writing style, and just allow myself to write a series of short, academic-sounding essays. I'm not crazy about either of these ideas; getting rid of references to theoretical texts gives me the impression that my project is not scholarly enough; ironically, I don't like the idea of getting rid of my magazine article idea because this seems like it will be too scholarly.

Goodness! What to do, what to do? If anyone has any thoughts, I'd welcome them. Otherwise, I may well end up tossing a coin. . . I kid, I kid. I'll probably try both ways and see which turns out better.


You know, the coin toss question makes me think that maybe you could write a couple from each perspective, and then a little reflection-type piece about the effects of writing about different people in different ways. It might be a little too "meta" for the purposes of the project... but it might also be interesting, and at the very least take some of the academic/non-academic pressure off!

This sounds so awesome! I'm having a similar problem, Liz. What I'm tyring to do is to write in a way that's comfortable to me, regardless of how it sounds. I mean, after all, we're academics, we're bound to sound academic (even if it will kill some joy!). If you're writing comfrotably, I think you'll find some middle groud (at least middle ground for the academic, which I think it all that we can hope for!)

Of course, there's always the option for emoticons and referring to Butler as "Judy B." to lighten the mood! :)

Another option might be to write a more theoretical introduction and conclusion to the project that demonstrates a "serious" and more traditional academic engagement with the ideas/concepts of the class. Then your profiles could be far less formal. One other thing you could do in your profiles is to pick out one or two passages from our readings and make them the inspiration for each of your profiles. If you used them as epigraphs, you wouldn't necessarily have to engage directly with them in the profile (you just need to invoke them in your description). But they could still serve as a theoretical foundation. You could explain why you choose the passages that you did in your intro or conclusion. Hope this helps.

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