Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Economical Writing

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Category: |

Taking a break from Rawls this evening I read Deirdre McCloskey's Economical Writing (1985, written when she was still Donald). The article was entertaining and instructive. Even though I have completed my MA in Creative Writing I find it difficult nevertheless to apply the discipline that I gained in writing poetry to the writing of economics prose. McCloskey's article reminded me that there are many, many areas in which I can improve my writing (as much as I could improve one's skills in many areas of economics).

She offered a list of economists whose writing she felt had stylistic merit. I wondered then, in the intervening twenty years, has the writing of economics on average lost style? Have we improved? Are there major stylists out there I should be reading?

I've sent her an email asking exactly this question. I have no idea whether she has either the time or the inclination to respond. Let's wait and see. I'll report back.

Donald McCloskey, 1985, 'Economical Writing', Economic Inquiry, 23:2.

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. She replied:

    Dear Mr. Haliday:

    You are very kind. The article came out eventually as a little book, whose second
    edition is called Economical Writing, with some other attempts in How to He Human* Though an Economist. See the website (really, a magazine my web-mistress puts out), No, I'm afraid you are right: style has worsened, because most economists have no idea whatever that papers beginning "Consider the following set-up" are not elegant or clear.

    Deirdre McCloskey