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This is one reason why I love my office.

This is one reason why I love my office.

There are many wonderful things about having an academic office, but the thing that I love the most about my digs is the enormous double whiteboard along one wall. This was an indispensable tool in completing my doctoral thesis: it allowed me to plot the over-arching arguments and structures ‘to scale’, and in a medium which was both fixed enough to stay on the wall for the last few weeks as a visible prompt whenever the minutiae of individual pieces of analysis threatened to spin off in their own directions or subsume the larger trajectory of the material, and flexible enough to accommodate constant reconfiguring or tweaking by the judicious application of an eraser and some different colour pens. The various chapters in the image above were re-numbered and shuffled at least three times in the course of final write-up, as I debated the proper order of materials and the connections between them.

It’s almost a shame one can’t submit a time lapse video of a whiteboard as a thesis! It would be a much truer reflection of thoughts and arguments than the necessarily linear verbal presentation of thoughts that must, by its essence, be partial and in some ways impoverished.

Time to wipe it all off and prepare for the next project… Now that really is the beauty of whiteboards.

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

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Twitter: @KB_Neal

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