Wandering dissertator

  • Post by Adam Driscoll
  • Jan 09, 2017

My wanderweg

(German: hiking trail, path)

I’ve had the travel bug a bit longer than the wandering programmer over there … ever since, as a sophomore in high school, I emptied my bank account to buy a plane ticket to France. Four years later I was a sophomore at Carleton College when, without telling my parents, I applied to study in Bamako, Mali for a term…then I saw bits of Burkina Faso, spent a couple weeks in Senegal and Morocco, and once I had graduated and bopped between Maine and Utah for the farming seasons I headed for New Zealand to catch a second summer.

I worked for ten entire months in a row (in California, still avoiding serious winter) before leaving again to cycle across eastern Europe (from Zagreb Croatia straight-ish through ‘til Tbilisi, Georgia). Then, I finally settled into grad school, for nine months anyways, before trying summer research and cycling in Morocco. I managed nine more months in the US until I realized the Avignon theater festival meant I could go to a play every single day and then cycle the Tour de France route. So, Avignon for the summer, then Paris for the academic year to research and teach at Uni Paris X.

This time, I made it thirteen whole months in the US before returning to Morocco because I didn’t get to sweat profusely enough while trying to discuss human rights in Arabic last time and then finally arrived in Switzerland where I breathed a deep, deep sigh of relief until I encountered the migration office.

Summary: He sure is lucky we met while living just a few blocks away from each other in the US, because otherwise I can be a bit tricky to pin down.

Why write on this blog?

Writing one’s doctoral dissertation can be a lonely venture, especially in the humanities. I can get nearly all the resources I need for research in a library (especially one in a Francophone country), and then it’s up to me to write—I have no coauthors, no other responsibilities. Of course, classes, talks, and conferences provide amazing opportunities to dialogue with other scholars and shake up my thinking, but I still need to spend most of my ‘work’ time writing in order for the dissertation to actually get written.

Despite this, I’m coming to understand that my project does not have to be a solitary adventure. When he’s here with me, Adam keeps me accountable for my daily (usually pre-lunch and pre-dinner) goals, and the growing online community of writers who work remotely provide stimulating dialogue, helpful tips, and motivation to join in their conversation.

Summary: Writing here gives me a place to reflect on my work and travel, connect with far-away loved ones, and converse with other writers working remotely.