Styles of Academic and Professional Prose: Thinking and Writing about the Law

A seminar and workshop in the conventions of good writing in a specific field. Each section focuses on one academic or professional kind of writing and explores its distinctive features through a variety of written and oral assignments, in which students both analyze and practice writing in the field. Section topics include legal, humor, travel, or nature writing; writing about medicine and public health, religion, the visual arts, or food; writing in the social sciences; writing reviews of the performing arts; and writing for radio. May be repeated for course credit in a section that treats a different genre or style of writing; may not be repeated for credit toward the major.


Law has an intellectual structure of its own, and the lawyers and judges who make law and interpret it have peculiar ways of imagining and talking about the world, habits of thought and expression that can mystify the nonlawyer.  In this course, you will begin to learn to read and speak and write the lawyer’s language: you will learn to reason and argue in distinctively lawyerly ways about the sorts of problems that lawyers are paid to attend to.  And as you acquire and become adept at this odd language, you will also evaluate it, assessing its appeal and usefulness to you as a thinker, writer, and citizen.

Prerequisites: ENGL 114, 115, 120, or another writing-intensive course at Yale.

Students who wish to enroll in a section of this seminar should participate in online preregistration, which opens at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016 and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

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MW 1:00pm-2:15pm