I’ve read a number of sections of your thesis on Pico della Mirandola in draft format (via your blog) and have found it worthy of scholarly consideration. Indeed, my attention was first drawn to your work by a colleague in philosophy who was intrigued by your methodology as well as the consequence of your findings. Garnering the attention of active philosophers while writing at the Master’s level is no small accomplishment; it speaks to the real interest of your project. While I do not have expertise in Pico’s work, I’ve been intrigued by your arguments about the influence of Dionysius the Areopagite on Pico, as well as by your defense of the metaphysics behind Pico’s angelology. In addition to close and considered readings of the primary texts, you’ve made good use of weighty secondary literature (e.g. by W. Hankey and E. Butler). In my judgment, you’ve written a constructive work which makes a careful but novel contribution to the literature. While you may need to tidy up stylistic and organizational issues, these cannot genuinely be understood as valid reasons to reject the thesis—editing suggestions by an advisor would have been enough to clear these up before your defense. Your arbitration committee (and your former advisors) should understand that the account of your experience—coupled as it is by public access to the work you’ve done—are making the Graduate Theological Union sound like an unworkable and hostile institution, i.e., not a place we could recommend to students or colleagues.
EB Dear Ted,
Just a few words, given your recent academic situation, concerning your thesis, which I was pleased to be able to read on your site. This thesis is serious and important scholarship on Pico, showing a keen awareness of cutting edge debates on the reception of ancient philosophy in medieval and renaissance thought. I particularly appreciated the manner in which you draw upon Wayne Hankey's work on the influence of Dionysius on Aquinas, using it to transform the Scholastic background of Pico's angelology. The thesis is deeply researched, original, and argumentatively cogent, well beyond the level of work I've seen in an MA thesis, and would be taken seriously as a proposal for a doctoral dissertation in any program concerned with the history of philosophy. Indeed, the idea that such a thesis has been rejected out of hand in the fashion GTU has is, frankly, troubling. Any serious research institution ought to be interested in doing everything they can to support a promising young scholar such as yourself. In addition, your use of the internet, through your several blogs and Twitter feed, to share your results with a broader community of scholars is truly exemplary, and shows extraordinary initiative and creativity.
Edward P. Butler
This is serious and important scholarship on Pico, showing a keen awareness of cutting edge debates on the reception of ancient philosophy in Medieval and Renaissance thought.
Deeply researched and argumentatively cogent, it's well beyond the level of work I've generally seen in an MA thesis, and would be taken seriously as a proposal for a doctoral dissertation in any program concerned with the history of philosophy.
DE: happy to write a brief support statement on the nature of the work (for whatever that might achieve), however *do you have an email or paper trail for the administrative issues*? as i feel that all you need is that- supervisors who are absent or themselves say they are "too busy" is damning material and should be more than enough to achieve what you need- if a supervisor can't supervise (ie are incapable of doing their JOB) then it is their moral and professional duty to arrange for someone who can do that. This is awful news, hope it gets sorted out soon