Tuesday, September 30

Harvard Book Store Presents (Past Events)Special Events Archive

Steven Pinker

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Steven Pinker discusses The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

This event includes a book signing.

TICKET HOLDERS: Please note that your ticket ONLY guarantees you a seat until five minutes before an event begins. Additionally, tickets purchased online may only be picked up at the venue the night of the event, and cannot be picked up in-store beforehand. $5 tickets are also coupons, good for $5 off an in-store purchase at Harvard Book Store. Coupons expire one month after the event, and cannot be used for online purchases, event tickets, or gift certificates. All ticket purchases are non-refundable.

Unable to attend? Order the book(s) or pre-order a signed copy from Harvard Book Store. No Brattle Passes.

Harvard Book Store welcomes linguist, cognitive scientist, and award-winning author STEVEN PINKER for a discussion of his latest book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care?

In The Sense of Style Pinker answers these questions and more. Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesn’t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose.

In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical knowhow, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.

Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. His research has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the American Psychological Association, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received several teaching awards and many prizes for his booksThe Language InstinctHow the Mind WorksThe Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.  He has been named Humanist of the Year, Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today,” and Foreign Policy “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals.” He has written for The New York TimesTimeThe New RepublicThe New Yorker, and other publications on consciousness, genomics, morality, war and peace, and of course, language.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Goldstein