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Canadian Gets Doctorate For 52,000-Word Run-On Sentence

A doctoral candidate at a Canadian university has successfully defended his 149-page, 52,000-word architecture dissertation, even though it contained almost no punctuation or capital letters.

According to the National Post, 61-year-old University of British Columbia (UBC) student Patrick Stewart (not the famous actor) says his dissertation, Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge, was intended “to make a point” about “the blind acceptance of English language conventions in academia.”

“my style of writing is not laziness or lack of knowledge of proper usage of the english language     it is a form of grammatical resistance as a deconstructionist     in the manner of many writers     especially american poet ee cummings,” Stewart writes at one point in the dissertation, “he graduated with a master degree in english from harvard university and they called him experimental and innovative     not words likely to be used to describe an indigenous writer who breaks all the rules of writing (the behavioural ethics board at the university of british columbia suggested that i hire an editor as it appeared that i did not know the english language)     times though     they are changing.”

Not only did the dissertation read like a stream of consciousness tract, it sometimes was formatted in an unusual way as well:

Patrick Stewart dissertation
Patrick Stewart dissertation excerpt (National Post)

Stewart has defended his actions by arguing that UBC has no rules dictating what punctuation must be used in a dissertation.

The strange write-up comes after Stewart ran into stiff opposition for his first effort, which was written entirely in Nisga’a, the language of the indigenous Canadian tribe of the same name. He was ordered to translate his dissertation into English, or face the prospect of his work being rejected entirely. Stewart complied, but then switched to trolling the department with what even he calls “one long, run-on sentence, from cover to cover.” The only concession he made for the sake of readability was including a short abstract at the start of each chapter written in standard academic English.

Ultimately, that concession was enough for Stewart to win faculty approval, and soon he will be allowed to call himself a doctor of interdisciplinary studies.

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