Editor’s Note

The theme for this year’s issue of Tortoise, narrative, emerged from a section of our previous issue. Last spring, we defined narrative as that “certain something which makes it easier for a reader to follow the author’s argument from point A to point B.” In this issue, we hope to draw and build on this definition of narrative in scholarly writing.

Through the excerpts (as well as one full-length feature piece) that we have chosen for publication, we consider the stories we tell and the way we tell them in academic writing. How does good storytelling help us to craft a compelling argument? What role can “creative” techniques such as metaphor, setting, and imagery play in our academic writing? And reciprocally, how do the lexicon terms present themselves in creative writing?

Most of our pieces explore the role of storytelling in scholarly writing. Across papers from a wide range of contexts and disciplines — from writing seminar papers to a Comparative Literature JP to a close reading paper for the East Asian Humanities Sequence — we examine the narrative techniques that these authors employ to strengthen their use of lexicon terms. What happens when a writer conveys their motive through a vivid anecdote? Can we think of orienting as a kind of worldbuilding?

Although Tortoise typically publishes academic writing, in this issue we have chosen to include an Unconventional Genre section. This section features three pieces that fall outside what we might think of as traditional scholarly writing: a short story, a speech, and a museum exhibition statement. How do these more explicitly narrative-driven genres draw on conventions of academic writing in order to tell a story?

We hope that you will enjoy this unconventional issue of Tortoise and join us in exploring the intersections of scholarly and creative writing!

— Meigan Clark, ’22