Greenblatt on Style

Stephen Greenblatt: “On Style: Ten Rules and a Desire”

Greenblatt is a Harvard professor and Shakespeare scholar, author most recently of The Swerve. You might find his basic rules useful to give to students, or for developing your own list for your teaching. One of his key points is that there are rules for writing, but writer’s need a manageable list to work with and learn from. His 8th rule, imitate, suggests a key consideration for any course that teaches writing: providing models for the students for the very sort of writing they are doing. It’s obvious, of course–practice, imitation. But it takes some planning–making sure that students have texts that include the genres (nonfiction, argument, critical exposition) you are assigning them to write, not just the genres you are assigning them to read.

This article is from Harvard’s publication for student writing from its first-year writing program, the one that started it all, known as Expos. The articles have critical commentary and categorizations highlighted that would be useful to use in your class for models. For example, this essay in which the set up of the thesis is foregrounded.



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