Jill's Dissertation Now Online

This is old news, and I'm sure everyone's already seen it, but Jill Walker has put her dissertation online. It's titled Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World, and I just downloaded it and skimmed the table of contents as well as part of the first chapter, and I'm in full agreement with this part of the committee's report: "Another strong point of the dissertation is its lucid and economical writing style, which make it a true pleasure to read." Over the winter break, I've been reading those dissertation self-help books and other advice*, and one of the books emphasized the importance of "telling a good story" in one's dissertation. In my limited reading of Jill's, it looks like she has done that very well. The writing is engaging, almost conversational at times. One section of the dissertation includes definitions of key terms Jill's using, and she begins her definition of "fiction" with the following (p. 27-28):

What is fiction?

Sometimes, when I’m sweating away at the gym, I imagine that I’m an Olympic weight
lifter. The crowd is cheering me on, Mum and Dad are close to the podium holding
banners with “You’re brilliant, Jillikin!” emblazoned on them in huge letters, and if only
I can lift those gigantic weights above my head I’ll win the gold medal I’ve been working
towards for a decade. Actually, of course, I’m pulling handles fastened to pulleys and
weights on a contraption that looks nothing like a dumbbell, and 5 kilos is a significant
load for me. Just as we all do every single day, I am imagining a situation that isn’t real.

Though my daydream was prompted by my being in a gym, my imaginings were
not prescribed by the gym or the apparatuses. I could have imagined completely
otherwise (that I was skiing or lying on the beach in the sun), or not imagined anything
at all. Indeed, my daydream may have been prompted as much by things internal to
myself as to the machines around me. The process of completing a PhD makes
daydreams of lifting impossible weights come easily.

What fun! I wonder if I could get away with something like that. :-) Speaking of my dissertation, in case you wanted an update on it, my prospectus is done and I'm awaiting responses from committee members on possible dates and times for the defense. As you might expect, I'm anxious to get started on the chapters, but I want to get some feedback from my committee first (and I want to get some kind of at least provisional imprimatur from them before I start posting more here about the content of my dissertation). Last semester, I took a writing practicum in the Women's Studies department and got comments on drafts of my prospectus from seminar participants and the professor of the course. They were helpful, of course, but I need to see what my committee thinks. Wish me luck!

* In a comment to his post, Collin writes, "You know, I'm thinking that this [dissertation advice] would be a great wiki project. Maybe it's something I'll get going this spring." Well, Collin, I think it's a good idea too, and I hope you don't mind, but I'm trying to get one started myself (with many thanks to James Farmer for setting it up for me). Anyone who would like to contribute, please do so; I'd greatly appreciate it!


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It;'s a pleasure

Glad it's a bit easier than Tiki to get started on.

Cheers, James

p.s. love the new loook!

2 out of 3 remarks surveyed...

As best as I can tell, roughly one-third of the time that I say "y'know, I should really do something," what I actually mean is that I hope someone else takes it up.

So, no, I don't mind at all. If enough of us contribute, it should turn into a really valuable resource...more power to you...


"getting away with" anything

"getting away with" anything all depends on who directs your work. If you are not forced into the formula of "literature review" "gathering evidence" "presenting evidence" you can do more exciting work. In fact, the advice I would give is not to stick to the formula b/c when you go on the market you want your work to stand out. Just reciting what everyone else already knows doesn't stand out. And you want to be able to demonstrate that your work has scholarly potential.

On the mechanics side: average a page a day. Average! If you are shooting for around 250 pages, then you can finish in a year.


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