As I prepare for dissertation workshops and fellowship applications in the fall, I am reminded of this important piece of mentoring advice:
Don’t just write your dissertation, but write about it and often.
Writing about your project can be frustrating, unnerving, and even painful, but I have found that it keeps me grounded- it forces me to think about the stakes of my work and reminds me of who I am speaking to, which can be incredibly energizing. In light of this, I have decided to share some of the writing “about” my dissertation that Duncan Faherty (Associate Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY) invited us to complete for the American Studies dissertation workshop I am taking this fall. As always, it took me longer than expected to complete (and is of course far from perfect), but it did get me thinking about my project and the challenge of communicating it to others who might not be familiar with my topic or areas of research.