John Swales, professor emiritus in our Department, had a very busy and productive 2012 thus far. He gave several international presentations, and saw the publication a third edition of one of his books academic writing. Below is a report about John's activities in his own words:

Presentations at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris

At the end of March, I was in Paris to give a two-hour lecture in the morning and then a workshop in the afternoon on certain features of scholarly writing in English. At the Ecole Normale Superieure, no less. Luckily I wasn’t eaten alive by the French intellectual heavyweights and so survive to tell the tale.

Throughout the period (and before) five of us have been working on a study of student use of imperatives as represented in the MICUSP corpus. The team consists of Patrick Kelley and Kohlee Kennedy, both now linguistics seniors, Justine Neiderhiser from the joint doctoral program in English and Education, Carla Vergaro, a visiting scholar from Italy, and myself. We found that students from five of the16 disciplines tended to use imperatives in their main text, these disciplines being economics, linguistics, mechanical engineering, philosophy and physics. So, we interviewed a professor each from these fields, discussing their own use of imperatives and what might (or might not) be acceptable imperative usage on the part of their students. Sam Epstein was a chosen informant from linguistics and the interviewers were Kohlee and Carla.

Presentation at Rethinking Genre in Ottawa

At the end of June, I gave the opening keynote at the Rethinking Genre conference in Ottawa, probably because I was the oldest participant there. My talk was essentially a reception history of an article by Sunny Hyon entitled “Genre in three traditions”. Sunny has a PhD in linguistics from Michigan and is currently Chair of English at Cal State, San Bernardino. The keynote videos should be available here.

In July Chris Feak and I published the third edition of Academic Writing for Graduate Students (University of Michigan Press). This and some of our other recent textbooks are currently on display in the main lobby of the graduate library.