There is a class in Pacifica’s myth curriculum titled “Dissertation Formulation.” It’s a quarter-long mini-workshop to help students figure out just what their dissertation will be about. Each group is formed of a fraction of their cohort and one faculty, and each student is given an opportunity to present their idea and receive feedback from the rest of the group about their topic. It’s designed to take us from vague concept to ready-to-go topic before we form our committee and write the beast. At the end of the class, students submit a Concept Paper, which is essentially a proto-Introduction. Passing the Concept Paper is the golden ticket to enter into the dissertation-writing phase of the program.
One of the problems I’ve had this entire process is articulating just what I want my dissertation to be about. My chapter organization has never been in question, but my methodology has been. As Dissertation Summer comes to a close, I think I have finally grasped what it is I’m trying to do and started another redux of my introduction chapter, one that tightens my thesis statement and better represents the chapter structure. Of course, then I’m faced with the problem of justifying two of the chapters, but that will come by final draft I’m sure. In order to do this, I’ve had to divorce myself from the Concept Paper and write fresh. From talking with other buddies, it seems that this is a necessary step to a successful dissertation.
Key themes of this new thesis include: Cold War, hyperreality and new myth.