Your Scholarly Argument Is Not a Listicle!

When the good folks at the Text and Academic Authors Association asked me to contribute a guest post on the TAA blog, I knew just what I wanted to write. So in this post, “How to Write a Sophisticated, Dynamic Scholarly Argument,” I focus on a faulty argumentative structure I’ve seen time and again: the list. However much I might sympathize with the impulse to rattle off an inventory of features when describing a phenomenon (and I do sympathize), a list does not a persuasive case make! And a list-like argumentative structure can be sneaky: a list may not look like a list, but it’s still less effective than a full-fledged, complex argument. My full meditation on this topic can be found on the TAA blog, but here are some teasers and takeaways: A list arranges elements without nuanced interrelationships and often without priority, effectively stripping an argument of crescendo. Engaging narrators . . . reveal their objects of study as complex systems—as machinery whose gears, springs, and ratchets interact with dynamism, torque, and teeth. An argument that presents a long list of proportionate elements sacrifices the opportunity to relate research components in complex and instructive ways. I hope you’ll join me over at the Text and Academic Authors Association. The blog is full of rich content for scholarly writers, and you cannot beat the archive of workshops and webinars available...