Revision

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Hi. I’m Adrienne Christiansen of the Macalester College Political Science Department and this microlecture is revision. You know, if there were just a single thing that I could tell my students that I believe would help them to improve the quality of their work, to improve the quality of their thinking, and therefore to improve their grades, it would be this: there is no such thing as good writing, there is only good re-writing. The very best writers in the world know this, and they all advocate for it. Unfortunately, students haven’t yet learned this lesson, and, more than occasionally, when I read a paper, I’m reading the student’s first thoughts on the topic rather than their, um, well-formed thoughts that grow out as a result of reviewing, rethinking, and re-writing. The word revision has to do with seeing again. Vision, re-vision, to see with new eyes. And so, I recommend that students provide themselves with enough lead time that they can write a draft, put it away, and come back to it to see it again with new, fresh eyes. This simple strategy would help student prose more than anything else. It would also lead to much higher grades. So, go revise. Go see again. Good luck, and write well.