How to Write Your Dissertation
in the Humanities (The Fast and Easy Edition)

Pilnius Evelethensis, PhD

Some people have problems writing a dissertation. Other people cynically profit from this by offering dissertation workshops, seminars on effective academic writing, peddling videotapes on cheap methods of self-actualization and therapy—all useless. There are really only three things that can slow down or entirely stop your contribution to the sum total of human knowledge: lack of money, the incompetence of the workers in your university library, and unfamiliarity with this brief guide. We're offering it to help you become a legitimate member of the academy, instead of a solitary masturbation-addicted, auto-didact typing out letters to the editor of the local paper from the basement of mom's house. It's not difficult to cross either line, to end up a freak or a doctor of philosophy, so why not get that dissertation done, and become one of the happy ones, those with advanced degrees in the Humanities? Getting a job with your new letters after your name is a subject covered in a separate, and far more expensive guide, also available from this publisher. Both are written by Zebrameat's crack team of professionals, all of whom have been through the process of writing a dissertation in the Humanities and are selflessly offering the secrets of their success to you.

First, you'll need a topic. What aspect of your discipline really interests you? What sort of problems and personal issues have you been trying to solve by reading all those books? These are questions that have no bearing on the matter at hand whatsoever. Nobody cares what you think, especially not the professors in your department. Take a look at them, carefully, when they're gathered around the coffee maker arguing about whose turn it is to buy the next can. Which one do you want to work with? The one who has a proven track record in cranking out graduates, that's who. Ask him or her for a topic, agree enthusiastically by nodding your head up and down and saying words like "yes," skim one of their publications, and start writing. It's that easy! This step should take about an hour, maybe more, depending how incorrectly the books and journals in your library have been shelved, so arrange your schedule accordingly to guarantee that you'll be out of school, and having sex, at the usual time.

So now you've started writing. Many would-be professional scholars fall into the trap of trying to say something substantive, weighty, and thoughtful. Don't bother. That would be too difficult for 999 out of every 1,000 graduate students in the Humanities, and this is the edition of our guide designed for the mass market. If you think you're that one in a thousand, we recommend that you run out and purchase "How To Write Your Dissertation in the Humanities (The Hard Way)."

Click on the icon for your word processing program (consult your software manual for assistance), entitle the new document chapter three, set the margins, start typing, and keep typing. Just keep typing. Click clickity click. Think about the fact that you are writing a dissertation, and everything you need to write will just show up on the screen. Rem tene, verba sequentur, "Stick to the subject, and you'll be done in a jiffy," observed Aristotle, rightly, and he wasn't just right about that, he was right about a whole lot of things. Write the first couple of chapters just before you write the last one, then the conclusion, then the introduction. Middle, end, beginning, more or less, as Aristotle also recommends. Mention this guide in your acknowledgments, between your parents and your cat. Try to spell words correctly, even the long ones you find so very difficult to pronounce when drunk or during the sexual act. If you have to mention the names of real people from your past, change them just a little bit, to avoid any legal problems. Write 500 pages. This step should take you about three months, even if you work 40 hours a week, go out to eat every night, drink at least one bottle of wine with dinner, and have a healthy, normal level of sexual activity with an equally healthy and normal number of normal and healthy sexual partners.

Footnotes can appear intimidating. So much support appears to be required for your tawdry little sentences and their failed attempts at explication, so many authorities. How wrong is that line of thought? Footnotes are fun and simple! Keep a few books open, copy some jargon, and add the notes randomly, yet profusely. Nobody checks them for anything but format. Read the next few words aloud, the ones after the colon (the little thingie that looks like two dots, one above the other), sounding them out clearly and distinctly, so you don't forget them: The format is the most important part of your dissertation. Make sure the commas and semi-colons are in the places required by your departmental style sheet or just copy the set-up from one of last year's dissertations. It helps to think of footnotes as your cheap date friends. Let them tart themselves up with quotations, that's what they really want, they're just asking for it, and you will have added hundreds of pages to your dissertation, with no effort beyond the typing. Don't start to get lazy at this critical juncture, be sure to keep up with your sex schedule!

The same goes for your bibliographic format, except for all that pain-in-the-ass alphabetizing. Try to get the computer to do that for you. Always remember that R comes after Q and vice-versa. Lots of people forget that, to their loss. One guy (this was an extreme case, admittedly) was only called on his sub-par alphabetization skills during his oral defense. He began to cry. We could hear him next door, in the departmental student offices, where we had our ears to the wall listening to the whole thing. We couldn't help but break out laughing. He ran out of the building. It was really funny! We were rolling around on the floor for like half an hour. Next year, we heard a rumor that he was managing a yogurt store in Indiana. That was pretty funny too, believe me. What a loser! We don't think he had sex once during the entire time he was enrolled in the department.

Talking about pains in the ass, you'll have to remember that your dissertation is supposed to be something of a joint project between you and your mentor (and your committee, if you were silly enough to go to one of those schools). Not that your mentor will do anything but slow you down with "suggestions" and "revisions" and endless incomprehensible ramblings about "critical methodology." If you take your mentor's advice seriously, you will get bogged down in self-analysis, which leads to doubt and a slackening sex drive. You will lose that plucky self-confidence, which, along with money and, if you're lucky, your parents' connections, is the thing that has gotten you this far. You are now in a scary and dangerous place, even more perilous than the jungle (a symbolic representation of your ABD status) which Luke Skywalker (who symbolizes you) entered alone, taking along his light saber (which represents the potentialities granted you by your youth and money, and also your insatiable libido) despite the advice of Yoda (an aged and dwarfish alien who represents your mentor). Don't fight yourself by arguing with your mentor. The effects of his or her "input" will be used as a tool by the Dark Side, which permanently enervates and enslaves all graduate school drop-outs. Remember that guy in Indiana? You must learn how to let go for a little while, and not let what your mentor says get to you. Simply incorporate any recommended changes, and promptly. You're not doing this for the process, but to get out to enjoy your freedom (in the form of tasty undergraduates, so easily manipulated into the most degrading acts: we could tell you a few stories about that) as soon as possible. Keep having sex, though, you don't want to lose your form in the final stages of dissertation production.

If you follow the advice of this easy guide faithfully, the speed of your progress will be phenomenal. This, of course, is good in itself, but we must warn you about a corollary effect. Your fellow students in the department will become jealous and spiteful. They will not understand how you can breeze, drunk and oversexed, through what seems to them to be a crucible of torture and torment. The petty little ferrets will try to nip your heels to distract and delay you. The obvious method of turning enemies into temporary allies, that is, having sex with them, cannot be utilized in this environment. All of your fellow graduate students will simply be too unattractive, even (if you happen to be hetero or bi) the ones of the opposite sex, we donšt care how many darvons and gin and tonics you've had. Your fellow students should now simply be ignored. Stay away from them until you're finished. Afterwards, if you are wise enough to purchase and follow the guidelines laid out in our companion guide, "How to Get a Job with Your Ph.D. in the Humanities," they will pretend to like you once again, and beg for sex.

Your last hurdle will be your oral defense. It will be you against your board of examiners, on their turf, and at a time of their choosing. It is designed to be unfair. Have loads of sex the night and morning before, on top of and in and under all the clothing you will wear, and don't shower. This will help redress the unequal balance of power on which the faculty depends. The scales will tilt decisively in your favor when you quote a couple of passages, of your choosing, from Aristotle and the Marquis de Sade. While they question you, visualize everything you will do during all the unrestrained sex you will have that afternoon and evening. Your examiners will cower and retreat in limp impotent confusion.

Later, in the final step, when you make the formal presentation of your dissertation to the Dean or Dissertation Librarian, wear nice blazer and a tie, or an office-appropriate blouse and skirt combination, with sensible shoes, and be polite. A sincere smile, combined with firm and steady handshake, says a lot about you. Walk out, into the sunshine, briskly, but without appearing to hurry. Admire your alma mater's broad lawns and leafy oaks, the Neo-Georgian or Neo-Gothic buildings, say "hello" to the statue of the school founder proud and erect in front of the president's office. Walk out the main gate, and go find some sex, the rough stuff. You deserve it.






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