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Frodo Baggins, ABD -- An Article in the Chronicle

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a great essay today by a former Cornell graduate student who successfully defended her dissertation in 2004. She likens the dissertation process to The Lord of the Rings trilogy:

He travels across a land called Middle-earth to throw a ring into the middle of a volcano called Mount Doom -- an action that, for doctoral students, is known as "filing the dissertation."

She goes on to point out that Gollum is the eternal ABD, destined never to finish, while Frodo's faithful companion Sam will be written about in the Acknowledgments.

I particularly like her translation of the scene where Frodo's mind is so damaged and his spirit is so broken from years of tortured, lonely journeying that he can't let go of the ring. I have seen this so many times with clients who can't let go of even one chapter. "The ring is mine!" Frodo proclaims.

The author, Susie J. Lee, ends the metaphor by describing how Frodo, still recovering, sails off with his mentor and other professors in a faraway land called tenure."

Is there one graduate student, past or present, who wouldn't relate to this tale as a beautiful metaphor of their experiences? If you have a subscription to the Chronicle (highly recommended for insight into academe and job information,) please read the article!


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Holiday Challenge

Are you going to try to work on your dissertation or publication over the winter break?

I'd like to offer a holiday/winter break challenge to anyone who would like to take me up on it.

Post what you'd like to work on (if anything) over the holidays, and the maximum amount of time you'd like to spend on it daily. Please keep this time limit reasonable and low unless you're under huge deadine pressure -- in which case you don't need this challenge in order to get something done! Then you can go back to this post daily, weekly or just at the end of the challenge (shall we say January 15?) to say how you did, to tell us about your problems or to encourage and commiserate with others.

So, to summarize:
Post what you're working onPost your daily time commitmentPost again periodically to tell us how you're doing -- I'll receive all posts as emails and will comment and encourage you!Good luck and happy holidays!