Timothy Aubry and Jessica Swoboda in The Point:
Jessica Swoboda: What are the biggest challenges of academic writing?
Timothy Aubry: One of the big challenges is that you feel like you have to write in a certain mode. I remember having an inferiority complex in grad school because I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make my prose unreadable and complicated and weird and forbidding like all the scholars we were assigned, whether that was Gayatri Spivak, or Judith Butler, or Homi Bhabha, or the academics who were imitating them. They wrote these unbelievably complicated sentences with words like “imbricate,” and “pharmakon,” and “liminal,” and I would try to write papers that sounded like their books and essays, with multiple subclauses that would be hard to decipher. And it was a complete failure.
Over time I did learn to write more in accord with academic protocols and so forth, despite my misgivings. And, according to my family, I do write obscure, unreadable academic prose—so I must have succeeded in getting there to some degree at least.