In 2013, I presented a paper at the excellent biennial Stellenbosch conference on doctoral supervision. It drew on the poet W.H Auden’s discussion of the ‘hero’ as a key component in Quest literature, a form of story known to all cultures throughout recorded history. Auden used The Lord of the Rings to illustrate his discussion and, while I was reading his it, I realised just how close the Quest is to the doctoral experience and that the ‘Quest’ is a much better metaphor for the doctorate than the much more often-used ‘journey’. When I got back to Adelaide, I wrote the piece up and it was published in the International Journal for Researcher Development under the title ‘The quest for the PhD: a better metaphor for doctoral education‘.
Since then, I’ve used the piece as the basis for my introduction to the development opportunities and the resources available to University of South Australia research students during the Orientation event which introduces new doctoral students to their period of study. It seems to have gone down well and appears to strike a chord with most students irrespective of discipline or whether they are domestic or international students.
The notion of the PhD as quest has now reached the next phase in its development and is available for your delectation and delight on Youtube as a movie. There is a musical soundtrack so its best watched with the sound on.
I hope you find it useful and would welcome any feedback you might have.