Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Choking on dust in the memory attic

So I'm updating my resume for a grant application, trying to squeeze everything I've ever done down to no more than two pages without making the font size unreadable, when I realize that I can't recall the title of my dissertation. 

Right: the "little writing project" that dominated my entire existence for two years has succumbed to slippage, tucked away in some dusty, inaccessible attic of the memory alongside other bits of information I don't need very often--my vaccination history, my first address, the names of all the elementary schools I ever attended, and I've forgotten what else. (There's no search engine for the memory attic, and how would you search for what you've forgotten you ever knew?)

The sections of my dissertation that I've managed to publish as articles over the years carry different titles, and I don't have the full dissertation text on this computer or the print document at home.  (This is probably a mistake.) Fortunately, my PhD institution holds a copy of my dissertation in its library, which easily searchable via OhioLink. Voila! Problem solved.

But wait: now they want the title of my Master's thesis, which I wrote for a completely different institution in a completely different state not accessible via OhioLink--in 1986! In what sense is a thesis I wrote in 1986 relevant to anything I'm doing today? I've moved on!

But the granting institution has not, so off I go to search for the title of a thesis I haven't even thought about in at least a decade. What was I thinking and writing about back in 1986? I'd better find out soon or this grant application will be dead on arrival.

1 comment:

Contingent Cassandra said...

I found myself forgetting (repressing?) the full title of mine within a year or two of defending (after spending a good dozen years on the thing). And that's before middle-aged memory really set in. The fact that I changed the title/subtitle more than a few times during the writing might be a partial explanation, but my theory tends toward some sort of (limited, relatively benign in the grand scheme of things) PTSD.