Book review: Stylish Academic Writing, Helen Sword (2012). Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England. Harvard University Press. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Helen Sword has produced a beautifully written and well-structured style guide based on the principle that "elegant ideas deserve elegant expression," although the serious reader quickly realizes that there are also social and philosophical dimensions included, making it definitely much more than that. Aiming to be useful to writers of all disciplines, she defines stylish academic writing very broadly. To make this definition applicable and viable for all writers, she maps this difficult terrain with mathematical precision based on painstaking research from which she distills a number of stylish elements that will augment the quality of expert penmanship in general. Sword is a noted literary scholar by training, having received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University, and is now Professor and Director of the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education at the University of Auckland. Additionally, she is an award-winning teacher, and poet who has published widely on modernist literature. At the same time she is a prolific writer on higher education pedagogy, digital poetics, and academic writing, not to mention that she has written more than 5 single-authored books. Her fervent support for creativity and craftsmanship in scholarly writing, teaching, and the arts, won her the highly coveted University of Auckland's 2007 Teaching Excellence Award for Innovation in Teaching as well as the 2013 HERDSATERNZ Medal for a scholar who has actively contributed and positively influenced tertiary education research in New Zealand.