When asked to say something about page 99 and its representation of my dissertation, my fingers and toes were crossed that the page would include an image. My dissertation, “Carmen Miranda: Ripe for Imitation,” is concerned with the Classic Hollywood star’s dress and performance and the significance of the countless Carmen imitations. In all there are 58 images in my dissertation. Given my page count, that meant there was about a 33% chance I’d land on a photo or film still. No such luck. Instead page 99 discusses the extractability of Carmen’s cinematic performance: musically (she was a talented singer accomplished in a Brazilian vocalization akin to American jazz scatting) and in terms of her comic dance and performance style. If ever a dissertation needed audio files, film clips, and still images this one did! The very extractability of sound, moving image, and performance I discuss on page 99 is represented entirely with printed words.
The good news is that university presses (such as Duke, University of California) are beginning to publish open access, digital books. The peer review process is as rigorous as for traditional publications yet the digital book creates opportunities for incorporating sound and film clips, while reducing the cost of publishing the many color still images I need to support the written word of my revised dissertation.
Page 99 reflects the value of my original research while highlighting the constraints I faced and accepted in the dissertation writing process. Accepting the limitations meant completing my degree in a timely fashion. My mentor didn’t quite put it like this but in essence he told me: “You don’t have to wear all your jewels to the prom. It’s ok to don a few baubles and save your turban for the next big occasion.”
Lori Hall-Araujo, “Carmen Miranda: Ripe for Imitation.” Phd. diss, Indiana University, 2013.
Lori Hall-Araujo is an assistant professor in the School of Design and curator for the Costume Museum and Research Library at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She is currently preparing The Missing Body from the Carmen Miranda Museum, a work of narrative nonfiction. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An expanded chapter from her dissertation was published as a journal article and can be accessed here.