Sunday, March 29, 2009

John Hope Franklin's ways of writing

C-SPAN has online a great interview with the distinguished historian John Hope Franklin (1915–2009). I often encourage students to consider the possible advantages of writing essays by hand, so I very much like Franklin's distinction between different ways of writing:

Once I've collected the material . . . , I have two ways of writing. If the problem is complicated, I want to see what I'm doing. I write either by hand or perhaps on the computer, but preferably by hand, to try to work it out, to see what I'm doing, how I'm doing. And I just write in longhand on a sheet of yellow paper, some kind of paper like that. And I write for maybe several hours, just working and reworking.

If the problem is simple and relatively uncomplicated, I will perhaps even begin by writing on the computer, just writing along. But it's a combination of writing by hand and writing on the computer.
Elsewhere in this conversation, Franklin notes that he doesn't do e-mail ("I think it's something of a curse, if I may say so") and describes doing his research "the old-fashioned way." Meaning? Notecards.

This C-SPAN broadcast has some great clips of Franklin looking at his orchids and working at his dining room table, Pilot G-2 in hand. Take a look:

In Depth with John Hope Franklin (C-SPAN)

comments: 2

Slywy said...

This post reminded me of something I'd written and thought I'd posted years ago but hadn't. Just did. Wonder how many other times I've rambled and then forgotten to actually publish? Hmmm. Anyway, it's called "Why the pencil?" about why I prefer writing to typing. Not that I'm in Dr. Franklin's class, of course.

Michael Leddy said...

Bravo! — I'm going to link to it tomorrow. (Right now it's turn-off-the-computer time.)