"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


me and newt

In the course of writing a dissertation, one can learn many interesting and unanticipated facts and skills. One might learn that in order to do research in the eastern Congo, one needs to learn something about how volcanoes work. One might question one's decision to pursue such a project when one discovers that earthquakes, angry mobs, and learning what mortar rounds sound like could very well play a role in one's research. Or one might realize that one's political equivalent of Bob Stoops wrote a dissertation that one very much needs to read.

As it happens, several of the above-named hypothetical scenarios have happened in the course of my pursuit of a PhD. The last one is that which concerns me now. For it seems that none other than Newton Leroy Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution and the Contract with America, Fox News commentator, ultraconservative, etc., etc. does himself have a PhD. From Tulane. In Modern European History, to be precise.

Why, you might ask, does this matter to me? Well, as it turns out, my dissertation has to do in part with social service (eg, education and health care) delivery in the Congo. And wouldn't you know it: Newt Gingrich wrote his dissertation about Belgian education policy in the Congo during the colonial period. Which means I need to read Newt Gingrich's dissertation.

Here is the problem with trying to read this dissertation: I need a hard copy to look at, because I'm going to have to reference Gingrich's dissertation fairly extensively. Our library only has it in microfilm form. Because they have the microfilm, however, they won't do an Interlibrary Loan. Photocopying the microfilm will cost $75, which I can't afford. Ordering a copy of the dissertation from the Michigan dissertation monopoly will set me back $41 plus tax, which I also can't really afford. What's a girl to do?

In this case, I'm going to beg:

Dear Newt Gingrich,

I'm not your biggest fan, but you and I share something in common: a ridiculous amount of knowledge about the education system in the Congo. I desparately need a copy of your dissertation so that I can finish my own dissertation, and I can't afford the cost of acquiring one of yours. Might you happen to have an extra copy that I could borrow for a couple of years? Or a digitized version that I could print out myself? I would very much appreciate your assistance in this matter. If you could help me, your people can email me and I'll send an address. Thank-you so much, and I promise never to say anything mean about you again.

Texas in Africa

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Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

And I thought strange things happened during MY dissertation experience. Good luck with your begging letter. From all accounts when you get him away from politics, Gingrich is supposed to be a good guy. So, here's where we find if that is true.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 7:57:00 PM

Anonymous Sister said...

If Baylor has it on microfilm, you can print it off for free. I've printed off entire dissertations, and no paper count is kept because you're not on a computer and you do it yourself, page by page. It's really too easy and wasteful, and they'll figure it out eventually and set up roadblocks, so check now!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 8:27:00 PM

Anonymous rp said...

Okay, you've gone TOO FAR, comparing Bob Stoops to Newt Gingrich!!

Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:51:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I meant it as a favorable comparison. In the sense that, I might not like him, but I think he's a genius at what he does.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 10:47:00 AM


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