Some Montreal scenes…


I don’t have time to write anything today, but I thought I’d post a few shots I took in Montreal the last couple of days.

I took this one as “proof” that I really did finish a thesis at McGill. There it is, nestled beside other great theological works on graphic design, metal accumulation, and East Asian miracles!






I call this one “The Dissertation Graveyard.” This is 1 row of about 5 at McLennan library where MA and PhD dissertations are kept. Let’s just say that the dust on most of these indicate that few people come to visit…







This is the view looking out the window from the sixth floor of McLennan library. I’ve picked the desk right next to this one to do much of my work this week.







I had no clue this would happen, but it turned out pretty cool, didn’t it? A shot at about 10:00 pm from McLennan, looking down Union Ave. Notice the disheveled hair…proof of a long day at the library!


5 thoughts on “Some Montreal scenes…

  1. Dustin

    The place where dissertations go to die is quite funny! Mac has them integrated (for the most part) within the regular collection. It at least gives the illusion that the dissertations and theses are being used, though I don’t think anyone would ever actually take them off the shelf! Thanks for posting the pics.

  2. Neil E. Dainio

    May I be so Bold and ask?

    If all these dissertations just sit in the dark collecting dust.
    What is the point of writing a dissertation?
    What fruit do they bring to the Kingdom?
    Or, are they just a waste of trees?


  3. Neil, these are some good questions. I’ll try to answer them as best as possible.

    1) The point of writing a dissertation/thesis. It is somewhat the same point as writing papers, except much more extensive. It is an educational exercise that tests one’s ability to research a topic exhaustively (at least at a doctoral level) and to present a sustained argument regarding your research. I very much liked what my MA supervisor (Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh) said about a doctoral dissertation: It is the last work of a student and the first work of a scholar.

    2) What fruit do they bring to the kingdom? That’s not an easy question to answer in general. I’m pretty confident that there ARE some dissertations that have very little contribution to the kingdom. But again, as an exercise in learning scholarship, that isn’t necessarily bad. Every skill requires practice and a dissertation is very much “practice” in scholarship. That said, if the focus is on a dissertation’s contribution in-and-of-itself, then most, as you say, are a waste of trees. But that would be to focus on the dissertation as a product more than upon the dissertation as a process.

    3) Though many dissertations never get past the library shelf, there are a good number that do end up forming the basis for publication (just as I am working on mine for publication).

    If you want a fuller “apologia” for why an MA or PhD thesis, I’d recommend reading John Stackhouse, Jr’s comments. On MA theses, see

    Though more broadly focused on PhD study, see

  4. that dissertation graveyard is a bit depressing, but i still see the value in writing them. since when do we do anything simply for applauded results and wide recognition?

  5. Dustin

    I totally hear what you are saying, Neil. As I sit alone for days on end with books piled high around me I often mind myself asking… “Who gives a rip?” As David will be able to attest, I’ve gone through my fair share of bouts with depression and lots of battles with isolation and alienation and purposelessness. The worst is when the vast majority of your friends and family think you are totally wasting your time or have absolutely no idea what you are talking about when you try to describe your dissertation. In fact, I had a relative recently describe to me in great detail how my PhD was an economically disasterous decision.

    Quite frankly, I’d say to anyone who wants to work on a PhD, especially if they have a family and have other skills and talents that they might use in a different setting, to avoid the full-time PhD like the plague. The costs are super high and the pay-off is dubious.

    However…. however… if you are called to it then you better go. This is the case even if no one but your supervisor ever reads blasted thing. (Or so I tell myself… daily).

Comments are closed.