What’s that you say? Have I been absent from the blog for the past several weeks due to exciting journeys to exotic locales, traversing the desolate morains of Iceland, scaling the heights of Peruvian peaks, and exploring the stark desert beauty of the American Southwest? CLOSE. My last two weeks have been spent here:
I’m currently participating in the Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute at the University of Michigan, a program I applied for back in the early spring. The Institute runs for seven weeks, from early May to late June, and is essentially a paid opportunity that encourages doctoral students to work on their dissertations by giving them financial support and space to work (this relationship between private space and writing may have been remarked upon before… ).
Each group has a Sweetland faculty mentor, who meets with us to discuss any particularly thorny writing problems we’re tackling, and we also get opportunities to workshop our current chapters with other Institute participants. We’re required to spend six hours a day in the building, actively working on our dissertations the entire time.
This isn’t just about us graduate students. There are broader experimental aspects to the program, in that some of the data that is being collected on productivity and PhD attrition or persistence is being used to develop strategies to help more graduate students finish and defend.
However, this does mean that I’ve spent every weekday from 9am-3pm for the past two weeks mired in the materials chapter of my dissertation, which involves translating, untangling and then re-weaving segments of numerous site reports and articles into what is going to be the MOST ENGAGING and LEAST BORING background chapter ever (or at least that’s the mantra I repeat to myself when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed). That also explains the collage of necropolis maps and structure diagrams currently papering the wall behind my desk.
I’ll be back to more regular posting again soon enough. Till then, you can content yourself with attempting to find the 6 clues scattered around my office that reveal my true osteo-nerd nature….There’s a guide below in case you’re striking out. Happy Friday everybody!