I tried looking for kickstarted dissertations and found a couple, both music-related.
I've read the Kickstarter rules before, and I don't think I could get my dissertation on there "legally." This despite the fact that my dissertation engages directly with the following:
- Popular Culture
- Disneyland/Disney history
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
- Toys and Play
- Space and Place
- Reception studies/fan culture
There's broad crossover appeal here: Disney nerds, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fans and sentimentalists, anyone with an investment in challenging traditional models of masculinity, anyone with an investment in making the world safe for little sissy boys, anyone invested in the possibilities that play can engender.
But, you say, what does anyone get from donating to a dissertation kickstarter?
Well, the knowledge that they are furthering scholarly study of important aspects of life. But more importantly, by helping support my dissertation they would be actively supporting making me a teacher/professor. And my pedagogical aims are queer-positive, child-positive (in a non-sentimental way), intent on interrogating conventional attitudes about everything, organized largely around helping my students learn to see and read and think and write in a critical way. Short answer: my pedagogical position is: QUESTION EVERYTHING.
Alas, kickstarter's rules of engagement seem to prohibit me from using them as a way to pay my bills and buy groceries through the summer dissertation-writing season.
It's too bad there's no way to reach out beyond super-official channels for funding for academic projects. There are big important fellowships, but not everyone can get one of those - they are limited editions. Money for the sciences seems to flow like water, but in the humanities - you're on your own to peck and scratch for pennies. You know that awful scene in Ellison's Invisible Man, early on, when the men throw pennies on the electrified floor, and laugh and laugh as the black boys fight each other, while getting shocked, to pick up the pennies? That's kind of what the funding situation is like over here in the humanities. It's much less physical, of course, it doesn't have quite the same ring of horror that Ellison's does, but it's an emotionally brutal, scroungey, and painful contest just the same. And most of us come up emptyhanded, or with maybe one penny to our names.
And when we leave our institutions, hopefully with dissertations in hand and PhD appended to our names, we may very well be saddled down with so much student loan debt that it will be decades before it's paid off.
And there are fewer and fewer jobs every year, paying less, for those of us who have knocked ourselves out to write dissertations and become good college professors.
Kickstarter, come on! Cut the scholars, the academics, in on your crowdsourcing financial wizardry.