How a Philosophy Professor Writes

Caroline Meline, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy

Quick Facts

Favorite word?

Oxford comma or no?
Yes. The more commas, the better.

What’s a word you always misspell?
Weird. It breaks the rule of i before e.

SJU Writes: What kinds of writing are you doing right now?

CM: I have been doing op-ed writing and working on small pieces that are personal essays lately. I have a book that I have been working on for a long time called The Constant Dieter: A Philosopher’s Guide to Losing Weight. It has a lot of interesting things in it that come from both my scholarly life and my personal attempt to understand myself. And I have research articles, scholarly articles, that I have been working on for conferences.

SJU Writes: What’s your favorite piece of writing you have ever produced?

CM: The last piece I got published in The Inquirer, an op-ed which was about the death of my dog Stretch. For now, I would say that is my favorite piece because I wrote in that kind of state I don’t get into very often where I’m not really trying for it and what I’m going to say just comes out.

SJU Writes:  Have you always enjoyed the writing process?

CM: I did not develop a love of writing until I was in my thirties. I had a hatred of writing when I was an undergraduate. I was so anxiety-ridden about working on a paper that I would really work myself into a state. For me, once I get going, it is always better. I am a perfectionist. My standards are high, too high, which can cripple a person.

SJU Writes: What advice would you give to undergraduate and graduate students embarking on their own writing journeys?

CM: This is the main advice I would give, and somebody gave it to me. I was writing a master’s thesis at the time. I was so stuck and paralyzed and terrified that I thought I couldn’t finish the degree because I couldn’t write the thing. My advisor said, ‘I am going to make a contract with you and you have to agree to this. You will write a draft of each section without any revision and then tell me how it is going.’ And it worked. So my advice to students on writing is to talk on paper. Just talk, and let it happen, and don’t criticize until later.

—Gina DeRosa ’19