So, for those of you who want to know: the dissertation defense was great. I was nervous, of course, but I have a lovely committee, all of whom came in and said insightful things about my project–probed the holes in the argument, suggested areas that need development or refinement, and offered brilliant contextual thoughts. It was a helpful and rich discussion and–despite my nerves–I enjoyed every minute of it. I felt totally inarticulate, in the moment, but even so, the conversation was a great thing. It’s a one-of-a-kind event (when else will I have a group of warm, intelligent scholars gathered in one room to discuss MY work?).
It is an odd procedure, in some ways–but it caps off the Ph.D. process nicely. And it has been a process. I’ve been working on this degree since 2004. My dissertation has changed and evolved over time. Even though there are always things to fix–and I’ve got a list of them!–I am pleased with the final product and I think it has potential to be a book (which is the end goal). I’ve worked on this dissertation during my office hours, in the mornings before the rest of the family got up, while I was nursing a baby, in the car on the way to visit family, etc., etc., etc. It’s amazing to me that it’s finished.
After the defense, Conor and the kids picked me up and handed me a gin and tonic and we drank a toast there in the parking lot (the kids did NOT get gin and tonic). And we went out to dinner and I tried to absorb the idea that I am done. Done.