Laurie Taylor Column

November 21, 2003

Morning, Charles. Gordon here. Gordon Lapping. Sorry to bother you, but I need to set up a viva for that doctoral dissertation you've been looking at for us.

That's right. The one with the red binding. Can't recall the exact title.

Something to do with the construction of post-colonial identity.

Yes, that's the one. So, what was your overall impression, Charles?

Uh huh.

You found it what?

You found it "impossible to understand". Well, quite honestly, Charles, isn't that about par for the course these days? If anyone can understand your doctorate, then it's probably only a masters.

You say that it's what? "Virtually unreadable." Well, let's not get too picky here, Charles. I can't remember exactly where this chap's from, but I know he's not one of ours. So, obviously, he's had some language problems.

I think what one does in such circumstances is to assume that he knows what he's talking about. After all, he has been at it for three years.

What's that? You can't bring yourself to pass a thesis that makes no sense.

I really do find that a bit strong. I mean, for goodness sake, this chap has come all the way over to Poppleton from the depths of wherever and paid good money - very good money - to spend three years writing a dissertation, and then at the end of it all you're seriously suggesting that we send him away empty-handed.

Uh huh.

No, Charles, I do get your drift. You're saying it's a betrayal of higher education to hand over a doctorate to someone who hasn't met what you call "traditional standards".

Yes, I hear you.

Look, Charles. I've got an idea. Why not forget all that business about the doctoral certificate?

Yes, really. I'll tell you how to make it easier for yourself. Just imagine that what you're handing over is not so much a university degree. Think of it more - how can I put this? - yes - think of it less as a degree, and more as a receipt.

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