Academic Writing


What is it?

Academic writing is any formal written work in an academic setting. It is a different genre in its scope and style. It is a clear, focused, well-structured and evidence-based piece of writing. This is writing for education and its main purpose is to enhance the reader’s understanding of a certain debatable issue. Unlike copy writing, academic writing is highly formal in tone, style and use of language, and it requires certain writing conventions. Academic writing is a style of expression which has a formal and logical structure, and it defines the intellectual scope and expertise of the writer.

Literary Analysis is a Form of Academic Writing

Academic writing comes in many forms. The most common is literary analysis in which we analyze a literary text such as poem, drama, novel etc for the purpose of appreciation and understanding. This is not mere summarization; it is a complete close reading with stylistic and thematic examination of the work of art. I have written many stylistic and literary analysis of literature. One example is John Ashbery’s Poem, ”Melodic Trains’ and ‘The Painter’. An extract from the poem, ‘Melodic Trains’ is quoted here:

According to Ashbery, ‘Life is in motion’. The poem shows a melodically sounding related series of thoughts that are developing in mind. They are called Melodic trains for they have the power to transform the minds of people from some ordinary experience to some particular. The poem is a fine example of stream of consciousness technique. The poem shows the complexity of thoughts as they pass through a sensitive mind of a poet. A poetic mind has a greater capacity for associating this similar and distinct thought. That is why; the poem has more than one layer of meaning. The title itself suggests the thought process growing on within the poet’s mind. The outer journey in the real train is paralleled by a symbolic train of thoughts and melodies, poetic ideas running through the mind. The first thought or theme present in the poem is the expression of vanities through appearances. When the little girl asks the poet what time it is. Melodic Trains becomes a journey of life, the faces of passengers and what all the time goes in their minds – like every one of us.

 The Painter by John Ashbery:

Sitting between the sea and the buildings/ He enjoyed painting the sea’s portrait” The sea is a symbol of creativity and the unexplored depths of human consciousness. It also resents the vitality and essence or life, which has been long ignored. The buildings and their architecture are the explored and achieved conditions of art. The painter symbolizes the creative and modern urge and the people in the buildings are traditional critics who fail to understand the philosophy of art. Symbolically, the poem shows the condition of the artist sandwiched between two contrasting forces behind art; conventional, traditional and superficial approach on the one hand and modern, creative, experimental and innovative on the other. The modern artist is not restricted by the limited and restrictive view of life. He is the controller of his art and defines its parameters. He believes that art is all-powerful and vast, and it cannot be conceived in a traditional narrow thinking. His analogy of child’s prayer is not analogy only; it presents a philosophy of art – the art too is like a prayer.

An extract from Anthem of doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen as anlysed by Prof. Naeem

Stylistic Analysis:

There is no morphological complexity; however, there is syntactic confusion. The poem starts with a rhetorical question; which shows the poet’s anger; which ironically means that there should be formal prayers for these soldiers and not passing bells only. The question mark which should end the four line ends the first line to foreground it and the last line as a result of the lines in between which are short and not complex. So the first 4 lines become foregrounded. The auxiliaries have been dropped; as it is done in informal situations. Auxiliaries show connection and construction; their absence in the poem shows the absence of construction in society due to war and destruction of people. The first sentence has embedding in it as it should be read as: What passing-bells for these who die as cattle/Can patter out their hasty orisons. ?…..-Only the monstrous anger of the guns/Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.

The parallelism of Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes shows identity and contrast in a unique way. Candles are held in the hands; but their eyes will be burning like candles for the grief they share. Doomed’ links ‘doomed’ and ‘youth’ through assonance, thus tying the two concepts more closely tied. The presupposition of ‘doomed’ is also more poignant. Dead youths must already be dead, but doomed youths are not yet dead but doomed to die. A textual world is thus set up where the persona is walking through the battlefield, talking about not just those who have died, but also those who are in the process of dying and those who are soon to die.

Another form of Academic Writing is Research Paper

Another very common form of academic writing is research paper or thesis writing. This form of writing largely depends on outside information to make an argument or support a thesis. Research paper includes sources and sources are cited normally according to in APA or MLA writing conventions. One example of research writing can be traced in the Introduction extracted from an Academic Essay, ‘Happiness and Personal Choice‘:

Happiness doesn’t spring from hereditary composition of human genes; it lies in human control that can shape and determine how happy we are and how happy we can become. Human beings are not helpless pawns in the hands of genes to seek happiness; on the contrary, happiness can be very much triggered by human choices made at will in different distressing situations where happiness needs to be most sought. In this essay, I will discuss how happiness is a personal choice regardless of whatever composition of genes have been inherited from our forefathers, how this personal choice can be executed and why genes are not a barrier to our happiness.

Another example from the conclusion extracted from the argumentative essay, ‘Happiness comes from within, not without’.

The crux of the above discussion is that we can only enjoy permanent and lasting bliss in the midst of hardships and sufferings by changing our self and our perspective so that we can stand happy, excited and joyous regardless of any positive or negative stimulus from the environment. Material happiness is temporary and transient while spiritual happiness produces far-reaching results. Happiness is a choice; it is not an event– it is something creative – you can create happiness by changing your perspective and state of being.

Academic writing is a highly specialized form of writing that follows a clear, logical and impersonal tone and supports our point of view in an evidence-based approach.

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