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Michael Pollan on Research

Posted in Creative Nonfiction, Research, Writing | Comments Off on Michael Pollan on Research

  Michael Pollan came to New Haven March 30th to talk about his new book, Raw.  While most of his conversation with journalist Jack Hitt focused on our food culture, at one point he spoke about how he researches his projects.  I thought his experience might be useful for anyone out there feeling stuck and wondering just how to start writing more popular pieces. Mr. Pollan’s process begins, he said, with books.  For Raw, he bought and read all kinds of books.  He read recipes. History. Next, he looks for local people who know something useful, and asks them if he can come in and learn by doing— “Can I work here for a day or two?” He said people are generally happy to have a little free labor, so volunteer your services. Then, he looks for experts, whether...

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writing/research software

Posted in Research, software, Writing | Comments Off on writing/research software

a variety of academic software programs that might help you on your way.  Some are PC, most mac or both.  If you search for reviews of these, you’ll probably pull up related software that you might like better. Nota Bene Devonthink Tinderbox Mellel Bookends...

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New Yorker pieces written by a professional historian

Posted in Children's Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Government, History, Parenting, Research, Sex ed, Writing | Comments Off on New Yorker pieces written by a professional historian

These are written by Jill Lepore, who has written academically about King Philip’s War and slavery in 18th-century Manhattan, among other topics.  She started an English major, went into American studies, and is now the chair of History and Literature at Harvard.  So she’s as academic as you can get – but also is a great example of how historical research training can allow you to comment well on a host of other topics in the non-academic world.   Note how these pieces aren’t precisely history – they use history to illuminate a interesting topic. on Tea Parties, Boston and otherwise On writing about George Washington On the invention of parenthood On sex education On children’s...

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Background reading in American History

Posted in History, Research, Western History | Comments Off on Background reading in American History

Taking a course in regional history can be tough if you don’t have a strong undergrad background in US history.  If you don’t, or you just want a quick refresher, here are some suggestions: — for a good grasp of the major events and peoples in American history, taking a look at a balanced survey textbook like Out of Many is a good idea.  Read through the table of contents.  Do you remember most of it?  If there’s an area that seems unfamiliar, read that section.  If you plan to continue studying American history, or teach it, having a textbook on hand is very useful.  Everyone forgets what, say, the Lecompton Constitution was from time to time, and having a reference to go to will help with your work in many classes.  If you can’t find one in the...

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