Letter to Russ

Dear Ms. Russ,

I would like to first express that I am a big fan of your work but more specifically your personality and style of writing. Frankly, I also sense a lot of anger and frustration in your letters and papers. I am a science major at the University of Oregon, so most (if almost not all) of papers I read are very objective and emotion-free. Most authors write short but precise description of what their work and results are, so reading some of your papers takes me by surprise. I am not used to this style of writing at all, but I love it. “Finally! Someone has emotion and passion about what she is writing,” I thought.

Why do you think it is a good idea to involve your emotions in your writing about contemporary issues? Don’t you think that objective writing and showing facts or evidence will be more convincing? The reason I express this concern is because facts and evidence are a bit easier to be compelling than emotion. I do believe that emotions sometimes make your audience a bit skeptical because they will just think that you are too angry to think straight. Once again, I study science, so it is a little challenging for me to change the way I read and think when it comes to literature versus science writing. However, I am still a big fan of yours and so glad I can write you a letter to express my admiration.

All the best,

Kim Ta.

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One response to “Letter to Russ

  • cstabile

    There are some rich ideas in this post, but I want to push you on the idea that scientific writing is somehow naturally “objective” and that the language of science (in order to be effective) must be passionless and devoid of emotion. Read Darwin, a wonderful and passionate writer and scientist. At any rate, objectivity describes a style of writing that became popular at the end of the nineteenth century. Might be helpful to think about science and other forms of technical writing as genres (isn’t the lab report a genre?).

    If you have the chance, read Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions — an important feminist critique of objectivity.

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