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Wednesday, 04 May 2005


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How Not to Open, Close or Anything In-Between an Academic Essay, Part I: My Formative Years:

» "Who transgressed borders? I transgressed borders from Citizen Mane
I'm pretty sure that I could neither walk nor talk with any sort of conviction as far as it went with Theory, even at moments when I found that it did, miracle of miracles, make some sense to me. [Read More]

» The slow death of the English language in academia, part nine million. from Wax Banks
A. Cephalous is really funny. He wrote an Honors Thesis, 'used' Donna Haraway on Thomas Pynchon like a bastinada thereby sucking the play and pleasure right out of him, and then - years later - wrote a fantastic blog post [Read More]


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Your honors thesis is adorable! What did your advisor/preceptor/mentor tell you after reading the draft? More stories about adventures in writing, please.

A. Cephalous

There's a way in which that post could be read as an indictment of my faculty mentor, but it shouldn't be. I had an excellent advisor who would, three years later, chair a panel at a Joyce conference in Trieste that my Canadian friend and I were on. At dinner later that night, he leaned over to me and said "I'm glad you're not so full of yourself or shit anymore."

Given the monumental failure of the finished product, I could see why you'd suppose him an incompetent buffoon. But I think his comments, though unheeded at the time, paved the way for the swift conversion to the anti-muddle-headed position I still hold.

P.S. My Latin looks wonky. Corrections would be appreciated.

Sean McCann

Hilarious, headless! Been there. You just have to take it one day at a time now.

language hat

Well, you may have been a jackass, but boy could you problematize! Funny, I faced an entirely different set of obstacles in my never-finished dissertation on zero-grade thematic presents in the early Indo-European languages, but I'm just as appalled when its moldering fragments stumble out of a box I've heedlessly opened and assault me. "The Greek evidence... the Sanskrit forms... As Sebastian Sitzfleisch said in Indogermanische Forschungen in 1889..." Aiieee! Run away!

I tried to read Theory when I was working at an academic bookstore in a university town where the English majors couldn't get enough of Derrida, de Man, & Co, but it fried my brain and I had to stop. I respect your ability to understand it well enough to renounce it.


You remind me of the bit in Seven Types of Ambiguity where he apologises for not doing too much revision for later editions by invoking how his younger self would've felt if some stupid old man had gone through crossing out all the best bits.
(I mean that in a good way.)


It's ten or fifteen years on from my honours thesis on 'Measure for Measure', but it warms my old heart to see once again, even through the veil of theory (whoops, that's 'Theory', isn't it!)that academic discourse either flows out of us like an undammed torrent at the age of twenty - or not at all. I had a wonderful tutor for Irish Literature who once assured me I was bright enough to dispense with my propensity for fence-sitting. Which was good of him really because nobody else bothered to tell me before Honours year - or after.


Magnus Corpus Urinae would be 'Great Body of Piss'. 'Micturio' means to take a piss, and there isn't really a noun form, though you could say Opera Mictoria, Work that Promotes Urine; or even Opera Mictilis, Work that deserves to be pissed upon. But why would you want to? Your dissertation sounds splendid, and is evidently (vide this post) part of a longer ongoing project to problematize.

Second thoughts: why not Textus Mictilis, since as every lit-crit-enthusist knows 'text' derives from the same root as 'textile', something woven or intertwined, and wool (such as might be woven or intertwined) was treated with urine ... actually there's a whole new thesis here.

A. Cephalous

Dr. Roberts, you're a life-saver. But I can't decide which of those wonderful options best describes my Honors thesis, so I'll refrain updating my post for a little while. (I'll probably go with opera mictilis, but then again, textus mictilis has its charms too.)


This is great. I just had complete flashbacks to when I was writing my Honours thesis, and actually spent absolute HOURS coming up with chapter headings like "Fore(father) Play - in Three Acts", and "Sex, Drugs, and Trans-national Performances of Narration as Drag".

I hang my head in shame at some of the sentences I wrote in the past.

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