Podcast review: My Gothic Dissertation

My first degree is in English Language and Literature from Moravian College, now Moravian University. I thought I would be a journalism major, but I didn’t like the curriculum. I ended up spending most of my time in the theatre department even though I was a traditional English major with a French minor that was supposed to be a French major but my study abroad fell through and I didn’t have enough French credits.

I worked as a journalism for 15 years and have been writing creatively since the second grade. I still have the notebook where I wrote such stunning poetic works like “My Mom Wears Flip Flops.” In third grade I used a composition notebook to write stories about Czechoslovakia I made up from pictures in a book.

I served as a board member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group for eight years, serving twice as president. I mentored college students, fellow writers and new reporters and editors.

I served on the local public library board for eight years, also elected to be president of that group. The teenager’s father also served for eight years.

I’ve written several novels, had creative pieces published (poetry, travel writing), and academic accolades— presenting at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, writing a book on French stereotypes of Muslims and post colonial prejudice for my undergraduate honors thesis, and publishing in Global Studies South and The Sage Academic Encyclopedias (once in the poverty volume and again in the security and surveillance volume).

And I founded my own publishing company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing, which currently has three books out and two more deep in production. Visit ParisianPhoenix.com for info. And buy books.

My belabored point is— I have read books in English and French and my nerdy little heart skipped a beat when I started listening to Anna William’s podcast, My Gothic Dissertation. If you don’t have Spotify or any of the other podcast apps, her website is here. Here is her curriculum vitae.

At first I thought she did a podcast about writing her English dissertation about gothic literature. Then as I listened I realized this was her dissertation. She made her English dissertation into a podcast. She wrote a dissertation about a literary genre hundreds of years old as a podcast.

How rebellious and exciting. But does that even make sense?

It does— because she compares the experience of being a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. to that of a heroine in a gothic novel. And she criticizes the very system she is maneuvering within.

She frames the heavy academic thought with humor and modern references. In the episode featuring Frankenstein she makes some amazing insights into the novel yet still manages to highlight Young Frankenstein and use Gene Wilder’s performance. In her dissertation! In a podcast!

And though she never mentions it, she uses the original Dark Shadows theme music for emphasis and I kept listening for “My name is Victoria Winters…” (IYKYK)

Even the ending wasn’t predictable. Though she does pass and earn her doctorate.

And I never thought I would appreciate a comparison of professors to a parking lot lift gate.

I hope to find more of Dr. Williams’ work. She is a true asset to the creative world. And she might be way ahead of her time. I hope she has had a hand in making people evaluate academia.

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