Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Mutually Contradictory Ideas
Profacero, in a comment on the last post, writes: "the ideas that your dissertation isn't important except insofar that it is done, and yet at the same time, it has to be your first book, are mutually contradictory." This is a point so crucial that it needs to be repeated. The dissertation is your entry into scholarship. While it is done in order to get the degree, it is not like a PhD exam (i.e., a meaningless hurdle that has no relation to your scholarly future). It represents what you will want to be known for and the source of publications during the first years in the profession. Graduate school should train you to write a good dissertation, and this dissertation should be very, very close to a finished book. The idea that a 28 or 36-year old graduate student is too young to be completing a valid scholarly project is very condescending, and part of the endless infantilization of grad students that doesn't do anyone any good.