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Why is this reading so hard?

February 11, 2016

by Pat Thomson
via The Impact Blog


It’s a fact of scholarly life that some of the reading we do is just plain difficult. Sometimes this is because scholarly writing is obtuse, dense and, well, not really very good. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes the texts that we read are simply hard to grasp. That’s because their writers are dealing with difficult ideas, it’s not because the texts are poorly written.

It’s terribly easy to suggest that academic writing that isn’t transparently obvious at first reading is, by definition, badly written. If it was well expressed we’d understand it. It would be clear and obvious. We’d get it straight away.

Well no. While that might sound logical, it’s actually not always true. Getting into a new area or mode of thinking is actually a bit like getting to know a new physical location. When you arrive in a new city you don’t expect to know…

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