Transforming Your Dissertation into a Mainstream Book

A Workshop with Elizabeth Nelson

“It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust who creates Goethe.”

—C. G. Jung, “Psychology and Literature”

If your completed dissertation still feels vital and relevant to contemporary culture, and you have dreamed of reaching a wider audience, this workshop is for you. We will commence the process of reworking your research so that it may become “the ideal text” that publishers seek and very rarely find: solid works of scholarship that hold wide appeal for a general audience. This workshop will include a lively combination of lectures, discussion, focused work in small breakout groups, and individual writing exercises. Bring a copy of your dissertation or thesis and a laptop or tablet for writing and editing, and enjoy a creative weekend.

We will begin by exploring the activated archetypal field within which the work sits. What images are at the core of the original research and where are they now? How can you, as author, host these images as autonomous figures with something to say? We will explore specific moves—rituals, attitudes, gestures, and practices—that will help you develop a collaborative relationship with the archetypal figures over the long process of transforming the work. We also will discuss a depth psychological, psyche-centered approach to the creative process, a thoughtful meditation on what writing is and is not.

By the end of the weekend, you will have a clearer picture of your audience and who the book serves, which are not necessarily the same. We will discuss guidelines for choosing what portions of the dissertation or thesis to keep and what to cut, and strategies for preserving the depth of the original scholarship (and making sure it is up-to-date) while speaking in language that appeals to non-specialists. You will learn how to transform the research question and outcomes of the study into the book’s central promise; some of you will emerge with a good, solid draft of the opening paragraphs. Throughout, we will reflect on issues of authorial voice, tone, and style so you can thoughtfully shape how you sound on the page and speak to the reader you imagine.

Elizabeth NelsonElizabeth Eowyn Nelson, Ph.D., is Core Faculty and Dissertation Policy Director at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she teaches courses in research process and dissertation development in addition to imagery, literature, and cultural studies. Her own research interests include personal and cultural expressions of the shadow, gender, and power with a particular fascination in how we construct, encounter and understand evil. Elizabeth is the author of two books, The Art of Inquiry: A Depth Psychological Perspective (co-authored with Joseph Coppin), and Psyche’s Knife: Archetypal Explorations of Love and Power. A professional writer and editor for nearly 30 years, she coaches aspiring authors across a variety of genres and styles.

General Information

REGISTRATION: Space is limited. Register early! To register, submit the form on the webpage, or print and mail it to the Public Programs Department, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013 or call the Public Programs Department at 805.969.3626, ext. 103. Full payment is required with your registration. An email confirmation letter will be sent within 5 days of submitting your registration.

CANCELLATION: To obtain a refund on your registration fee, send a written cancellation request postmarked no later than thirty days before the event. Tuition less a $50 processing fee will be refunded. No refunds on your registration fee will be made after that time. In the event that the program is sold out with a waitlist and we are able to transfer your registration to someone on the waitlist, we will issue you a refund less the processing fee. Any registration transfers that do not go through our office will be assessed the processing fee onsite.

For a refund on accommodations at the Ladera Lane Campus, cancellation with full refund will be accepted up to 5 days before the event. Cancellations made 1-4 days before the event will receive a 50% refund. There will be no refund for cancellation on the day of the event.

LOCATION: The workshop will be held at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Ladera Lane Campus at 801 Ladera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. Located on 35 acres in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this residential retreat center provides a unique and peaceful environment for these events. This campus has lodging, dining facilities, and parking.

A limited number of rooms are available for participants at Pacifica’s Ladera Lane Campus:
$87 per night single occupancy (one twin or standard full size bed)
$120 per night couple occupancy (one standard full size bed; not a queen)
$132 per night double occupancy (two twin beds)
plus 10% occupancy tax
Accommodations are simple, dormitory-style rooms with a shared bath and shower. Reservations for rooms must be made through Pacifica’s Public Programs Department.

MEALS: Meals are provided to encourage ongoing dialogue and community exchange throughout the weekend. Included in your registration fee are Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and Sunday breakfast and lunch. For early arrivals, the following meals are available for an additional fee: Friday breakfast ($13.00) and lunch ($19.00). All extra meals must be ordered and paid for in advance through the Public Programs Department. No other meals will be available. Pacifica’s caterers make every attempt to provide healthful meals for our guests and include organic ingredients where possible. Please indicate on the registration form if you need a special vegan, gluten free, or vegetarian meal or if you have other medical dietary restrictions.

TRAVEL: Major airlines provide service into the Los Angeles International Airport located 90 miles south of Santa Barbara and into the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, approximately 18 miles from the Campus. Information on ground transportation to and from Santa Barbara will be included with your confirmation letter.

SCHOLARSHIPS: A limited number of financial need scholarships are available for this program. To apply, please fill out the registration form including payment information, and send a letter of request detailing your financial circumstances. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be contacted to approve processing of payment. Please note, incomplete applications will not be considered.

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT: 12 CE credits are available for RNs through the California Board of Registered Nurses (provider #CEP 7177) and for MFTs and LCSWs (provider #PCE 2278) through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. A $15 processing fee will be charged for each certificate requested.

DISABILITY SERVICES ON CAMPUS: It is the policy of Pacifica’s Public Programs Department to accommodate attendees with disabilities in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Please let us know in advance if you have special needs or require assistance due to a disabling condition while you are attending a public program. If you are accompanied by a service dog, please contact disability services directly (805.679.6124), as all animals visiting campus must have pre-approval. For additional information regarding Pacifica’s policies, visit