Arts and humanities writing style

Writing in the arts and humanities allows for some flexibility in style and voice, while still following standard conventions of format and documentation. Generally, writing in the humanities falls into one of 3 categories: research writing, interpretive or analytical writing, and creative writing.

In arts and humanities writing, it is important to remember that it is not a matter of presenting the ‘right’ answer, but of being able to present a case for your view or interpretation.

The purpose is not to imply that an interpretation is the only possible way of seeing a topic, but rather to convince your reader that your opinion is compelling, because it is:

  • rigorously researched and considered – you have consulted a variety of sources and perspectives; you are well-versed in the topic and have checked facts where possible; your viewpoint is balanced; and you have used examples to support your interpretation or argument
  • sensibly presented – the structure of your writing is logical and easy to follow, allowing your reader to understand your process as well as your ultimate position; a good structure will frame the discussion for your reader and set the boundaries of your inquiry 
  • clear in its discussion of facts and opinions – you will not be able to prove that your interpretation is ‘correct’, simply because it is just that: a reasonable interpretation; your language should acknowledge this distinction:

The director’s use of lighting in the film suggests the eventual illumination of each character’s secrets over the course of the story.
The following points demonstrate conclusively how the director used lighting in the film to represent how each character’s secrets come to light throughout the story.

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