My mentor for my capstone project likes to joke that he’ll talk about his Graduate dissertation to anybody who needs to catch up on sleep. The book-length paper is on the English language and how people’s attitudes towards it changed after the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Specifically, he is studying old teaching guides and rhetoric books from the period to see how attitudes evolved with regard to what people considered “proper” English.
Now, if I was feeling particularly self-conscious and wanted to hide my nerdiness I would say–and it wouldn’t be a lie–“go ahead and tell me about it, I am quite behind on sleep.” More than likely, though, the brain wouldn’t have time to censor the words which express my true feelings–“Wow! Tell me more! And, by the way, can I have a copy when you’re done?”
Perhaps it’s because of my interest in Christianity? Or my interest in history? Or my enrollment in the Minor in Writing program? Actually, my interest in my mentor’s dissertation topic is probably due to it’s unique location at the intersection of all three.
From what I’ve heard, writing a dissertation about any topic is quite a formidable task. My mentor has been working on his ever since I met him during my sophomore year. On one occasion, I remember him telling me how he read an entire book…just to write a footnote! As I go forward with my own project, I will no doubt experience a similar feeling of tedium. However, as with virtually all my writing, the thought of the final product is what will keep me going. And regardless of how many difficulties I encounter along the way, I know I’ll have the support of a mentor with quite a bit of writing experience.