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Storified Tweet Chat on My Experience Finishing Up (Formally) that Interdisciplinary Dissertation

June 4, 2014

UPDATE 2: Wow, the veritable slashdot has a reader posting about the MLA. See final sentence “The MLA doesn’t want to reduce enrollments, but they think the grad school programs should be quicker to complete and dissertations should be shorter and less complex.” Knowing what I know today, I probably would not have taken the humanities PhD. I would just take a PhD program that gives me strong training in methodology (in the different forms), project management, as well as to learn something I probably would not have been able to were I just an auto-didact. Then use that to apply to a humanities project if I see fit, while remaining aware of the thinking process, including working on complex projects for the purpose of learning without all that politics. Somehow, I feel that all attempts to deal with the humanities crisis merely makes the humanities even less attractive than what it is, and I can begin to sympathize with views that see the humanities as becoming irrelevant within the US.

UPDATE: For all the difficulties encountered, I am thankful for having been given a two-year no-service-required fellowship. Without that, I would not even have gotten to the point I am in right now such as being able to finish the dissertation. Or, maybe, if that had been the case,  I would  just have been more practical and less ambitious, therefore producing a more definable, smaller, but still good enough (if not great) dissertation, one that follows most naturally from all that I have read for my prelims, with mostly other add ons to improve arguments. But then, I would not have discovered my true love for history of science, a love that eluded me when I first took a class that meshes that with philosophy of science as an undergraduate science major requirement (a love that became evident during my defense).  Or, maybe, if I had tackled the original object of my research choice, I might still have ended up doing some history of science. Who knows. Life, and its unpredictable events, do strange things to your mind, body, and soul. At the end of the day, I find myself coming full circle in a way that is dramatic yet anti-climatic, with the ingredients synthesized to become the me that is now. I never think that grad school can actually be a way to find oneself, especially since it is supposed to be so punishing that your personal identity fades away, leaving only a shell  to be filled with academiaspeak. This is illustrated by how ‘former’ academics keep obsessing about the structures of academia more than a year after leaving academia. Let’s not even begin with the academics within the system.

The defense is done, an experience in itself. A few months later, I will be formally conferred. But that part is not interesting, and not worthy of much discussion.

Rather, it is the process, the stumbling, the small victories, the learning experience, the doing what is right, or not right for you, the fit, the drama…When I have more time, and when more thoughts have sunk through, I will develop a fuller post. As of now, the process of intellectually living and pursuing the life of the mind, whatever that means, has just begun. The apprenticeship has come to an end, but the real challenges just got started.

https://storify.com/normasalim/learning-from-an-interdisciplinary-dissertation

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