Writing Center Journal


Seeking to support graduate student writers, writing centers at research universities have developed highly successful dissertation camps over the past 15 years. Previous research from North American dissertation camps has demonstrated significant benefits from these camps, as dissertation writers developed new writing habits and increased their productivity. In this study, however, a closer look at initial and follow-up survey responses provided by participants from dissertation camps at two institutions—an Upper Midwestern university in the United States that has held camps for 11 years and an Eastern European university that held an online camp during the 2020 pandemic—suggests that focusing on

the positive responses may obscure some telling tensions between dissertation camps’ benefits and limitations. Our research reveals tensions around four key parts of dissertation camp curricula—developing writing habits and schedules, sustaining a community of writers, focusing on the drafting stage, and emphasizing cross- disciplinary participation. Listening more deeply to these outlier responses sheds valuable light on the affordances and limitations of dissertation writing camps and on how the curricula of dissertation camps might be reimagined to better articulate and embrace those tensions.