Tag Archives: scholarly writing

Outtakes and bad ideas

Interesting post today on the SHARP-L list about “bad ideas” that don’t make it into scholarly books. Later in the semester we’ll look at classic works of literature and what did not make the final published versions of such texts, but it’s interesting to ponder academics writing scholarship, accumulating vast amounts of research that ultimately is not used and other such “outtakes.”

Here’s part of the post:

“to probe more deeply into what
gets cut and why, either by ourselves, our editors, or our software.
Is there a value to the bad idea, to the outside of a – or the –
book’s doxa?  Are there common features to bad ideas, a taxonomy of
the unbookish, if you will?  Can we begin to develop a science of the
“outtake” and the outside of media?  What happens when we shift the
conversation from what is in our books to what is not?  How might this
help us not only write better books, but perhaps more importantly, to
think about the nature of the book itself as a medium of scholarly

Academics can be notoriously bad writers, so I’m not sure that I’d want to see some of the flotsam that would wash ashore from such  a search, but it’s an interesting concept to ponder given the ease of saving “bad” writing, via the computer, and given the public interest in watching, reading, or listening to parts of movies, chapters of books, alternate versions of hit songs, and so forth that the new media have made it possible for us to get our hands on.


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