|Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Outka, PhD.
by Kerry Boland and Brittany Clemens, Writing Consultants
Success in college English classes requires students to learn to analyze texts closely and then communicate their ideas effectively in writing. Long gone are the high school days of plot summary and the five paragraph essay! Many students find the transition difficult, especially if they are not sure of the professor's expectations for their work. In the following interview, Dr. Elizabeth Outka, Associate Professor of English at the University of Richmond, discusses common mistakes writers make, English faculty "pet peeves" and offers tips for those new to the discipline, as well as for advanced students pursuing research. Key points from the responses can be found below each video.
What are the most common mistakes beginning writers make when writing for English?
"What we're looking for is some sort of contrast or a progression that is traced across the paper."
What "pet peeves" do English faculty have when it comes to student writing?
"A topic that is specific to the work you are talking about is really important."
Can you offer tips for students just beginning to engage in literary analysis?
"You know you're a real English major when you start to mark up your whole book."
Can you offer tips for translating the close readings students practice in class into writing?
"Do the close readings first and then think about the paper."
Can you offer tips for writing research papers for English?
"If you start with all the critics, sometimes you can feel like there is no room for your particular voice."