Academic Exchange Quarterly Summer 2000 Volume 4, Issue 2

The Art and Science of Avoiding the Dissertation
Jayne Higgins, Northern Illinois University
My pencils could not be sharper. My house could not be cleaner. My students 
have never been better taught, and I even have all the grading caught up. 
Although I have spent many hours at the library and have amassed an impressive 
array (if I do say so myself) of research, I still find myself staring at a blank 
computer screen. You might say I have writer's block, and it will eventually clear, 
but I know this condition as a specialized form of that malady. There is a symptom 
I didn't mention- I go to any lengths to avoid my dissertation director in the 
hallways of the English Department. I have a bad case of Dissertation Avoidance 
Complex or the dreaded DAC.

DAC, as I like to think of it, comes to most who pass the rigors of doctoral 
pre-lims and enter into the suddenly self-dependent world of the writing of the 
almighty dissertation. We all know that we have one more step in the process to 
complete. Most of us in English, as we are well-trained writers, do not even dread 
the writing itself. Rather, the avoidance comes with the actual starting of the 
project. I think that a whole complex of excuses, real and imagined, come into 
play at that point of the process.