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The Art of Editing

ENGL 126.301
Tuesday 1:30-4:30

This course takes a critical and practical approach to the art of editing. Is the editor simply a “failed writer,” as T. S. Eliot claimed, or can good editing bring clarity and integrity to writing? In addition to exploring theories and histories of the red pen, we will consider a few case studies of editorial interventions, such as Ezra Pound’s excisions and revisions of Eliot’s The Waste Land, Marianne Moore’s five-decade quest to revise a single poem, and the editor who was discovered to have invented Raymond Carver’s distinctive narrative style. We will then immerse ourselves in the technical aspects of editing, mastering such topics as the difference between developmental and line editing, the merits of MLA and Chicago style, proofreading in hard copy and digital environments, and when to wield an em dash. Students will gain practical editing experience in regular workshops, learn about a range of different levels of editorial interventions, and investigate the politics of language usage and standards, reading from literary texts such as Gloria Anzaldúa's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" and Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary. This course counts toward the Journalistic Writing Minor.