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Dissertations -- in 17 syllables

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 27, 2009 10:45 AM

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The Web site Dissertation Haikus has been around for a few years, but it's enjoying a late-summer surge in popularity. The concept is irresistible. As its creator explains, "Dissertations are long and boring. By contrast, everybody likes haiku. So why not write your dissertation as a haiku?" Why not, indeed! For the writer, the site provides a way to dramatically expand the universe of people with a loose grasp on how you spent several (or 10 or 12) years of your life. For the reader, it provides a way to painlessly survey what passes for the cutting edge of knowledge, without having to negotiate precious, colon-hobbled titles or scientific jargon.

As you might expect, contemporary historians display sympathy for society's downtrodden and beleaguered:

In Salem's Fire
And Halifax Explosion
Survivors resist

But questions that Socrates might have pondered are alive and well, too (as this example, from religious studies, attests):

Your religion lacks
an absolute certainty
Perhaps change your mind?

Seventeen syllables are enough room for scientists to get across the scale (grand and minuscule) of the experiments that engage them:

detecting populations,
gene flow, growth, decline

And while you might expect humanities students to have a leg up when it comes to writing poetry, that isn't always the case. Some, like the earth scientist who produced the following haiku, display a natural gift for pith:

Marine microbes eat
polysaccharides, except
that sometimes they don't

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1 comments so far...
  1. The act of writing:

    Sisyphean tasks
    The hour of the wolf hears
    Plaintively echo

    The result of writing:

    Tactical response:
    Art in an age of terror
    Defuses death’s breath

    Posted by Kathleen MacQueen August 31, 09 06:04 PM
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