The Dissertation Writing Workshop provides support to UC San Diego PhD candidates engaged in writing dissertations in the humanities and social sciences. Students should be working on topics that can be defined as humanistic in the broadest sense—that is, topics based on archival sources, literary or artistic works, ethnographic field work, and interviews or public media. Funding for this program comes from the Division of Social Sciences Dean’s Office and the Center for the Humanities.

About the Workshop

The dissertation workshop has several goals. Each member presents a chapter of his or her dissertation to the workshop, and the most immediate goal is to provide feedback on the chapter from peers and the senior faculty member who leads the workshop. The workshop addresses the clarity of the chapter’s goals, the character and quality of its argument, the use of sources, strategies of persuasion, and the literary quality of the writing, including grammar, usage, and diction. Workshop discussions also deal with the way the chapter fits into the overall dissertation and how to develop the chapter and the thesis for publication. Because of its interdisciplinary composition, the workshop provides insights from different disciplinary perspectives, which helps members to see their work under new lights and broadens their understanding of its scholarly and intellectual context. Finally, the workshop seeks to speed up progress toward completion of the dissertation by helping it members learn to work efficiently.

The workshop is led by Stanley Chodorow, professor emeritus of history. Professor Chodorow has taught similar writing workshops in the Department of History and has extensive interdisciplinary experience through work in the colleges, the division, and the university.

Structure of the Workshop

The workshop meets during Winter and Spring quarters every two or three weeks. There will be two introductory events in the Fall quarter. In each meeting of the workshop, a student member presents a chapter. The presenter distributes the chapter electronically one week before the meeting to allow readers time to comment. The meetings last two to two-and-one-half hours.

All members of the workshop critique the chapter presented and provide the presenter with whatever notes they have made as they read. Professor Chodorow gives the presenter a detailed critique consisting of both extensive marginal and editorial notes and a general comment addressing the areas described earlier. This commentary also tries to characterize the strengths, weaknesses, tics, and other habits of the writer in order to improve the presenter’s ability to edit and revise his or her own work.

Eligibility and Research Funds

Graduate students from the humanities and humanistically-oriented social sciences who are in the early stage of writing their dissertations are eligible. Applicants must have completed the bulk of their research and have at least one full chapter written at the time of application. Participation will be limited to no more than eight graduate students, and all participants must plan on being on campus and available to attend the writing seminar in Winter and Spring 2016. Students should be registered in the dissertation writing class of their home discipline.

Workshop participants will receive $1,500 in research funds that will be transferred to the home departments and these funds can be used for research-related expenses or travel. Research fund recipients will also be encouraged to participate in professional development workshops put on by the Center for the Humanities.

Application Guidelines

Applications are due Monday, May 11. Send applications by email or campus mail to the Center for the Humanities Program Administrator, Victoria Gerginis-Mellos (, campus mail code 0406). Upon receipt, you will receive a confirmation email.

A complete application should include the following:

  • Dissertation Prospectus (800 words). The prospectus should include the following:
    • State the research question and the argument of the dissertation, sources (archival, field work, etc.), and research methods used,
    • Discuss the project’s significance and contribution to current scholarship,
    • Include a timetable and work plan for completion,
    • Specify the chapter you wish to share in an interdisciplinary writing workshop, and the importance of interdisciplinary feedback for this chapter.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter of support from dissertation chair or faculty mentor indicating that the applicant has at least one full chapter done at the time of application and addressing the promise of both the student and the dissertation.


(858) 822-3556