DR is Dead. Long Live DR.

Ever since Dissertation Reviews was founded in 2010, our goal has been a consistent one: to expose the scholarly world to cutting-edge PhD dissertations across the Humanities and Social Sciences, and to foster unprecedented levels of engagement with early-career scholarly communities.

We are proud to announce that we have accomplished these goals.

Over the past 6 years, DR has profoundly changed the way scholars think about dissertations. Once limited to an exceedingly narrow readership — one’s committee, family, and close colleagues — the dissertation as a genre has been unleashed. In one of the most widely read reviews, for example, thousands of visitors learned of Catherine Bronson’s Imagining the Primal Woman: Islamic Selves of Eve, with many more visiting the 1000-plus dissertation reviews, reflections, and archive reviews published since 2010. When first it started, some dismissed DR as an incidental blog. Now perhaps they realize: it was a movement.

Never before had dissertations been considered a genre worthy of “review” in such a thorough and public way. DR took up this challenge, and in the process, helped give rise to a new global community. Our readership rapidly grew to over 1,000,000, with visitors hailing from the US, UK, India, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Singapore, China, Turkey, the Philippines, France, Italy, Israel, and dozens of other countries. Our team of editors, moreover, has itself hailed from more than two dozen countries.

Simply put, the scholarly world has never before seen a phenomenon quite like DR. It has been a thrill to watch it happen.

We are writing to say thank you. As our readers, our authors, and our reviewers, you have been an essential and much valued part of making this idea a reality.


Having accomplished the goals we set out to achieve, it is time for Dissertation Reviews to change.

While it would be tempting to lay down a cornerstone, with the words “Est. 2010” carved in granite perpetuity, it has never been the goal of DR to become a storied and timeless institution. A clock has always ticked in the background, you could say, constantly reminding us: “Fulfill the goal, or fail trying.”

We have fulfilled our goal, and so it is with great pride that we announce:

Following the current season, in which we will continue to deliver the same high-quality reviews and features you have come to expect until June 2016, the future of DR will be something different.


The thousands of hours we have collectively invested in DR over the past 6 years will live on in a multitude of “next generation” initiatives to commence during the 2016-17 academic year. Rather than having DR grow to become an even larger entity — one that risks monopolizing the discussion on early-career scholarship — we are thrilled to announce four initiatives that carry on the spirit of DR while also pushing it in exciting new directions: Curator, Incubator, Advisor, and Navigator.


The first initiative will build on our extensive experience with the review and spotlighting of recently defended dissertations — but with a new approach. Rather than our traditional fields, which remain identical from one year to the next, we will issue an application-based, competitive call-for-proposals each year to form an annual cohort of 5-to-10 “Curators” who will each identify one H&S field and 10 dissertations where major conceptual and/or methodological innovation are taking shape. Each Curator will write a “pre-state of the field” essay that offers a synthesis and forecast of this work, speaking to its significance and potential impact. CURATOR will be directed by Andrew Janco, with publications from the series appearing on a dedicated Curator website, as well as being syndicated on the main DR site for our global and growing readership. During the CFP, special attention will be paid to applications from current and former members of the DR editorial team, as well as being be open to all early-career scholars.


Dissertation Reviews is soon to become a registered Not-for-Profit organization — yet another exciting development in DR’s history. This will enable us to support independent scholarly efforts that build upon the legacy of DR, but take it in new and unpredictable directions. Our project development wing will be reorganized as INCUBATOR, a seed grant initiative that will sponsor innovative, intellectually rigorous, and engaging independent projects each year — podcasts, consortia, web platforms, and more — through the provision of seed funding and managerial advice. Directed by Tom Mullaney and Jennifer Lambe, Incubator will support upwards of 4 projects each year. Supported projects will receive seed funding to get their initiatives off the ground, with the manifestations of the project being syndicated on the main DR site.


Based upon the tremendously successful series launched in 2015 under the direction of Audrey Truschke, ADVISOR will become its own independent entity, and will continue to focus on crucial moments, concerns, and processes in the life of early-career scholars. Eschewing both the “checklist”/advice-column format that reduces the academic profession to a series of strategic “to do” lists, as well as alarmist pieces about the dismal nature of the academy, Advisor will continue to deliver sober, substantive, and empirically grounded analyses that empower early-career scholars to make the right decisions for themselves.

Reports in the Advisor series will appear on their own dedicated website, and will also be syndicated and publicized on the Dissertation Reviews website.


The “Fresh from the Archives” Series on DR was yet another “first of its kind” initiative. Having featured reviews of nearly 200 collections in more than 30 countries, never before has a single repository offered scholars such a rich, one-stop-shop of information on many of the most important – but also many unknown – collections across the globe. Beginning in 2016-17, FFTA will be reborn as NAVIGATOR. It will also have its own, dedicated website, and will redouble its dedication to developing up-to-date, concise introductions to primary sources around the world. As with Curator and Advisor, Navigator pieces will be published on a dedicated web portal, but will also be syndicated on the Dissertation Reviews website, to help maximize circulation, searchability, and exposure.

DR (2010-2016)

We Came. We Saw. We Reviewed.


Leave a Reply