worthy of being defended
The faculty sent me the committee’s report electronically, to reach me more speedily:
It is the judgement of the committee that Jill Walkerís dissertation displays the depth and breadth of research, command of the field, and original character required of the PhD.
There’s lots more. Three and a half single-spaced pages describing my thesis, explaining what its original contribution to the field is and listing seven points of criticism. It concludes with what I assume is a set paragraph:
Despite the problems pointed out above, in the committeeís judgement the thesis represents an original piece of scholarly work that makes a valuable contribution to the field. The unanimous conclusion of the committee is that the thesis is worthy of being defended for a doctorate.
Some of the critical points confirm my own doubts about sections of the thesis, others I’d never considered. Several sentences make my eyes swim with concentration and will obviously need a lot of thought. There are some very specific theoretical criticisms that I’m sure will be raised at the defence. I need to read Searles. It seems I’ve both stated that “games aren’t narrative” (pages 115 and 176) and also used a narratological approach. How silly of me. And why haven’t I discussed phenomenology? Etc, etc, etc.
As I read I find myself repeatedly wondering who this “Walker”, is, anyway, before repeatedly realising that oh, that’s me. I’ve never seen one of these reports before. How strange, this ritualised, closed system, until the defence, which is so very public.
Do most people feel jubilant at this moment? My PhD thesis was accepted. I just have to defend it now, and that’s just a ritual. They might humiliate me in front of colleagues, superiors, students, family and friends (though I think my opponents are generous enough and I’m strong enough for that to be unlikely) but the chances of them failing me at the defence are negligible.
I just feel flat. I dread having to read the thesis again. I dread all the practical arrangements: copies made, summaries, press release, photo, dinner invitations, food, what if I offend someone by not asking them, who’ll clean up? I dread having to come up with good answers to the critical points; my impulse is just to agree with them and say they’re quite right, but I know that’s not the way to do it in academia.
Once I get started I’ll be fine. I’m going to hang on to the bits of the report that are wonderful to read, and there are quite a few of them, really, half the report is positive. This bit, for instance, I like this:
She succeeds in problematising the concept of interactivity in a way that still makes it possible to use the term in a fruitful way. She also represents a pioneering effort in her analyses of various interactive websites that so far have eluded this kind of theoretical reflection. In short, her dissertation is to be recommended as a useful theoretical excursion into a quickly developing field.
Oh, and this bit too:
Another strong point of the dissertation is its lucid and economical writing style, which make it a true pleasure to read.
Maybe I’ll photocopy these positive bits (enlarged, huge, immense) and paste them all over my walls so that I don’t forget them in the far more time-consuming nitty gritty of dealing with the problems pointed out. And I already know what I’m going to wear to the dinner!