T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
Drop Me A Line
academeblog AT gmail.com
Quote of the Day
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Like a Book
After turning in my neatly-formatted dissertation to the graduate school for review (three days before the deadline -- a first for a Last-Minute Lucy like myself), I had lunch with one of my advisors, Prof. C.
One of the things I really like about Prof. C. is that he doesn't sugarcoat anything. If he is dissatisfied with my research, for example, he'll tell me in the nicest possible way and then give me useful feedback so that I can make the research better. Similarly, if he likes something, he'll tell me to my face, which I think is rare in academia. (We'd all be less insecure in academia if the praise was as forthcoming as the critiques!) Over lunch we chatted about my dissertation, some aspects of which he really likes, and some aspects he really doesn't like. There are some aspects of it he doesn't like simply because they are not directly associated with My Field, but rather with the field of the Outside Committee Member -- a field Prof. C. doesn't completely understand (and neither do I, but I'm getting there).
"The one thing I like best about your dissertation is that it reads like a book," Prof. C. said between bites of his salad. "It reads like a book already."
I wasn't sure if this was a compliment. Should social science research read like a book? "Thanks," I said weakly.
He wiped his mouth with a napkin and started to explain himself. "I've read dozens of dissertations in my time here," he said, "and yours is one of three that I can envision as a book. Not at a major press since the subject matter is so specific, but the subject is interesting enough and your writing is elegant enough that I think you should seriously consider a book."
This took me completely by surprise. I have never envisioned my dissertation as a book; honestly, until now I've only thought of it as a burden or a hurdle, something required to accomplish a larger goal. I thought I'd get an article or two out of it, nothing more. I've never even wanted to write a book. But now he has me thinking about it. On the one hand, the thought of doing more work on this project is completely abhorrent to me, as the dissertation would require a major overhaul and I am sick to death of it. But on the other hand, the subject is interesting and work like mine in topic and methodology has been published by academic presses in the not-so-distant past. So it's not out of the realm of possibility.
This week I will pack up the piles and piles of materials I used to write the dissertation. Maybe within the next few months, however, I will have to pull them all out again for another look.