Monday, January 25, 2016

The text most often assigned

The Open Syllabus Project (described in this New York Times piece) has collected and drawn data from 1.1 million college syllabi. The text most often assigned? William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style . The titles of texts assigned alongside The Elements suggest that the book is used in many disciplines: art, business, economics, education, film, history, international relations, journalism, mathematics, philosophy, political science, the sciences, theater — and even in English.

The Open Syllabus Project records not a single course using Michael Harvey’s The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing , to my mind a book far more helpful to student writers than The Elements . Nor is there a single course using Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences about Writing, also to my mind more helpful. No syllabi from me in the Project’s corpus.

I hope that Geoffrey Pullum misses this bit of news about The Elements . Pullum’s animus against the book is strong and deep: “Strunk and White” is his “Niagara Falls.” Who knows what this news might lead to?

Related reading
All OCA Elements of Style posts (Pinboard)
The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing
From Several Short Sentences
Also from Several Short Sentences

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