GradHacker: My Dissertation Sweater

“If your dissertation were an object, what would it be?” As I write in my first GradHacker post, published today, I had to answer this question a couple of years ago when I attended a summer school at Heidelberg University (ah, Heidelberg). I replied that my dissertation was a hand-knit sweater, which turned out to be an even better comparison than I realized at the time:

When I learned to knit, about a year before starting my PhD, knitting an adult-sized sweater seemed an impossible undertaking, just like writing a dissertation did when I was a first-year graduate student. Sweaters (and dissertations) are so big! So complicated! I’d have to learn so many different techniques! How could I ever think of tackling that kind of project?

Of course, I eventually got over my fear of both sweater-knitting and dissertation-writing, though the sweater I eventually knit for myself is sitting in Philadelphia, unworn, because I never really liked the way it looked on me. Let’s hope the dissertation doesn’t suffer a similar fate and get stuffed in a digital drawer, unrevised and unpublished.

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