Call for Papers: Beyond the Proto-Monograph: New Models for the Dissertation

Contributed by Melissa Dalgleish, Daniel Powell
July 25, 2014
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Part of the Cluster:

Graduate Training in the 21st Century

 Yale Law LibraryGraduate Training in the 21st Century, housed within the #Alt-Academy MediaCommons project, is soliciting content for a cluster exploring the idea of the changing dissertation in the humanities. Titled "Beyond the Proto-Monograph: New Models for the Dissertation," this cluster seeks to explore how the prototypical graduate project in the humanities—the dissertation—is changing in the face of the digital turn, shifting job markets, and new visions for the academy. Contributions to the cluster may include (but are not limited to) any of the following:

  • Autobiographical accounts of the development and execution of non-traditional dissertation projects
  • Suggestions for overcoming institutionalized and local resistance to non-traditional research work
  • How the turn to digital humanities is impacting the nature of dissertation projects
  • How the economic and structural issues with the scholarly publishing system is impacting the nature of dissertation projects and the goal of their eventual publication as a scholarly monograph
  • How the development of the #altac track within and alongside academia is changing the purpose and necessity of the proto-monograph
  • The role of apprenticeship environments (the workshop, the reserach lab, field investigations) in preparing for dissertation-type projects
  • The history of the dissertation as a form/genre and potentials for current reform found in historical models of academic knowledge dissemination
  • Non-monograph dissertations and issues of knowledge preservation and dissemination
  • Critiques of or commentaries on current proposals for alternative dissertations as published by major universities, academic societies, etc.

We would like to underscore that we seek submissions on any non-traditional dissertation projects, not limited to those that growing out of digital technologies or research topics. We welcome submissions addressing the dissertation as preparation for #altac or community work, on the role of the dissertation in graduate education generally, and on non-traditional projects still firmly grounded in the world of ink and paper.

While we expect most submissions for this CFP will take the form of original essays, the #Alt-Academy project welcomes other forms of participation and media: YouTube videos, diaries, materials from panels or workshops, Storified tweets tagged with #altac advice, previously published blog posts, and more.

Please send abstracts (or finished contributions, if you have them ready or are feeling ambitious) to the editors by 30 August 2014. We can be reached at Contributions should be reasonable in length if traditional essays, or reasonable in time if not. (i.e., a video should be under 15 minutes, a new media project should take under 30 minutes to navigate, etc). Please see the first two #Alt-Academy clusters for examples of what contributions typically look like in scope and length. We aim to keep our pulication process moving quickly, since contributions for Graduate Study in the 21st Century are significantly shorter than peer-reviewed critical articles, and the review and editing process is much swifter. Final pieces will be published together as a cluster. 

As Brian Croxall has written in his CFP for a cluster on "Getting There" as an #alt-academic: "Contributing to #Alt-Academy is a bit unusual. But so is the nature of our work."

Image: "Dissertatio inauguralis juridica de desertione ordinis ecclesiastici" by the Yale Law Library

Challenges Students Face: Issue #1: Finding Meaningful Work

Contributed by Dr. Michael Edmondson President at MEAPA
October 03, 2011
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In his July 12, 2011 editorial "The Start-Up of You," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke directly to college students and wrote:

Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer? Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets? In today's hyper-connected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don't fulfill those criteria.

As students launch careers and seek to create value for companies, the goal of finding meaningful work is of primary concern.  While it is true that many students need a job to pay the bills, it is also true that finding meaningful work is a critically important component of life.  The following list provides a few ideas on how students can better understand the options available to them as they begin to think about ways to create meaningful work:

a)Intern - Students should intern at one or more placements in order to gain a better understanding of the types of jobs available.  Being exposed to different work environments allows students to develop their professional skills and gain first hand knowledge about what types of work they may consider meaningful.  Internships that involve substantial amounts of time (20 hours or more a week) and supervised learning usually offer the most insight for students. 

b)Bottom - Students should apply for entry level positions, even if an employment position does not require a college degree.  Doing so can provide insight often overlooked by those who started higher up in the organizational chart.  Starting at the bottom also often provides opportunities for promotion into more meaningful work.

c) Start - Despite today's challenging economy, students can create meaningful work by launching their own venture.  Instead of waiting for that perfect full-time job, which usually is a mirage by the way, students should consider creating multiple revenue streams (MRS) that combine working for wages (working for someone else) and working for profit (working for themselves).  This MRS approach to life allows students to take a proactive approach and intentionally create a variety of meaningful work opportunities. 

d)Job Shadow - Unlike an internship that requires a substantial amount of time, students should also identify a variety of people who can they spend a day or two with in order to gain a better understanding of that specific position.  Job shadowing is tremendously valuable if for no other reason then to see first hand what is involved with a typical day in that company or position.  No amount of reading can compare to tagging along with a professional.

In their 2010 publication Rework, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson discuss the need to create meaningful work.  Nothing the dynamics and new tools driving today's hyper-connected and ever changing global marketplace, Fried and Hansson suggest that everyone be a 'starter' and launch their own small business.  They argue that "There's a new reality.  Today anyone can be in business.  Tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible."  The best part of creating meaningful work is that all you need is 10-40 hours a week, very little money and a desire to create meaningful work.  Rework makes a compelling case for people to have multiple revenue streams in order to develop their talents, generate supplemental income and challenge themselves to grow as professionals.  Doing so can help individuals create meaningful work with intention and purpose in today’s hyper-competitive global economy. 

Click here to visit the next post in this series.

Michael Edmondson, Ph.D. is the co-founder of MEAPA a professional development company for the 21st century.   He is the co-author, along with Dr. Peter Abramo, of several publications including The ABCs of Marketing Yourself: A Workbook for College Students and How To Succeed With A Liberal Arts Degree.  He is also the Director of Marketing and Recruiting and Adjunct Faculty for Marketing and Entrepreneurship at The Philadelphia Center, one of the nation's oldest experiential education off-campus programs. 

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