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From Dissertation to Book

English 601

From Dissertation to Book

MWP Post-doctoral fellows

November 2023 - May 2024


Block 3 starts on 24 April 2024

3 blocks of 4 sessions







Place & Instructors



Benjamin Carver

Laurie Anderson

Course Description


This 12-week course is intended to get you on the way to publication of your monograph. There are 3 blocks, each of 4 x 90-minute workshops, which span the length of the academic year (October–May). Attendance is expected to be in-presence. There are written outcomes for each block of workshops, for which 1-1 feedback is provided, and some workshops require preparatory work. Fellows should be aware that they need to set time aside to work on these tasks (and their book!) to participate fully in the course.


The first block focuses on the book proposal—from identifying a potential publisher to how to reframe your dissertation’s contribution as a more substantial intervention in the field that will look “marketable” to a publisher. In the second block you will revise a body chapter to make its form and style more appealing to a wider scholarly audience; participants will bring work in progress to these sessions for peer feedback on revisions. In the final block you will start drafting the conclusion, where you deliver the findings and the expanded argument promised in the proposal. In this block we will also look at how to “thread” the final version of this argument back through the previous chapters, as well as how to start promoting your book.


Teaching staff:

The principal instructor on the course will be Dr Ben Carver. Ben’s book on Alternate Histories and Nineteenth-Century Literature was published by Palgrave’s Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture series in 2017 and his co-edited volume on Conspiracy and Literature was published by Routledge in November 2021. Professor Laurie Anderson is co-instructor on the course, and has published extensively on academic writing and publishing, and co-edited several volumes on academic communication. 


Before the course: 

No preparation for the first meeting is required, other than you turn up ready to talk about your book project. If you have time, you may be interested in looking at a very recent guide to writing the book proposal, which we will be referring to in the first meeting, in particular chapter 1: “Your Readers and the Importance of Fit”:$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:521348/one


Course timetable:

Block 1: Preparing the Proposal

8 November, 15 Nov, 22 Nov, 29 Nov

First workshop: Planning—identifying an appropriate publisher and assessing the workload.

Second workshop: The Pitch (I)—how to describe the field that your book will be part of.

Third workshop: The Pitch (II)—how to expand your contribution into an argument that makes your book competitive.

Fourth workshop: Writing the Proposal—this is not the most creative type of writing, but it does require skill and lean prose; we will be sharing drafts in this session.


Block 2: Revising a Chapter

24 Jan, 31 Jan, 7 Feb, 14 Feb

First workshop: Choosing the chapter for revision and making “macro” revisions—structure and bringing the argument to the fore (with your new audience in mind). Please note that there is preparatory reading required for this workshop (specified by email).

Second workshop: We are delighted to have John Haslam back for our second workshop. John is Executive Publisher at Cambridge University Press, specialising in political science, but with a wide range of expertise and experience across the social sciences. He will be talking from the press’s side on what makes a good book proposal, as well as giving advice on what they are looking for in a sample chapter and taking your questions. He has kindly offered to look at and provide feedback on book proposals.

Third workshop: Micro-revisions—removing the ‘dissertation signposts’ and writing in a more readable style (we will work with your selections of great academic prose in this workshop)

Fourth workshop: Guest speaker: TBC.


Block 3: Conclusions and Beyond

24 April, 2 May, 8 May, 15 May.

Session 1

Concluding moves

In this first session of our final meetings, we will consider the possible “moves” of the conclusion to an academic monograph; and which one(s) you might want to use. We’ll also talk about how the expectations of a conclusion may be different for a monograph, compared to a dissertation.

Session 2

Comparisons in your field

We’ll ask you to analyse the conclusion to a book in your field that you admire to give us all a sense of how these expectations may differ from field to field, discipline to discipline. We’ll also ask you to start planning (and visualizing) the structure of your conclusion.

Session 3

The argument—a thread

In this session we’ll study the expression of authors’ arguments in conclusions and how they are presented to the reader (as a necessary, logical deduction; in explicit or implicit language). We will also consider the argument as the book’s principle of cohesion and how you may want to work backwards from the conclusion, threading hints and steps of argument back through the book’s chapters to its introduction. (No, we didn’t mean a Twitter thread...)

Session 4

Beyond the conclusion

... But here we do. In the final meeting of the course we will again be giving feedback on drafts of the re- or newly written conclusion. To finish, we will look at how authors manage to promote their book, whether through networking initiatives, social media strategies, or publications that trail the book to wide audiences.







Page last updated on 18 March 2024

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