Writing a dissertation doesn’t always have to be painful drudgery. In fact, you might even get away with using pictures! Columbia graduate student Nick Sousanis did when he wrote his entire dissertation as a comic book. But don’t expect to find caped superheroes and villains in this one. Sousanis’ dissertation, which was published by Harvard University Press with the title Unflattening in April this year, uses the combination of words and images to argue for the importance of using visual thinking in education.
As much as recent grads might be smacking their foreheads with a “why didn’t I think of that?”, Sousanis didn’t choose the comic book form just for fun. As Sousanis told Inside Higher Education, “this form was as meaningful and as complex and could handle as much academic discourse as anything else.” And the crazy detail and uniqueness of the images in the excerpted pages from the book on Boing Boing show just how hard Sousanis worked. But don’t worry, grads, there are other ways to quirk-ify your thesis, like removing all the punctuation.
Although the book just became available, Sousanis actually defended his thesis back in May 2014, and, eager to get the word out about it, he went old school and actually handed out printed, folded-up copies of his thesis to people wherever he went.
“I gave them, and continue to give them, to anyone who I’ve stricken up enough of a conversation with that I feel like they might be interested,” Sousanis told the Calgary Herald. Um, cool.
According to the Boston Globe, Sousanis’ dissertation may be the first dissertation to be written entirely in comic book form. It is certainly the first time Harvard University Press has published a comic book. With big scholarly names like Columbia and Harvard behind this comic book thesis, maybe we’ll be seeing more comic book dissertations in the future!