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!

24 thoughts on “worthy of being defended

  1. George

    Congratulations on getting such great, thoughtful comments! Here’s a suggestions: load the positive ones into a screensaver program.

  2. Mattias

    I’ll clean up. And I know a really good and nice chef. Congraulations Jill!

  3. Jill

    Mattias, you’re on. Well, if you still want to come November 25…

  4. torill

    We knew this, of course! Congratulations, you will do a GREAT job at this. But get help with those practical parts, you can’t do it all on your own from now on. Although you have managed to read the comments, that’s more than I did!

  5. Francois Lachance

    O soon-to-be Doctor

    I envy all those that will be in Norway to witness your performance first hand, all except the one person who will really experience the experience. For that one person, it is a sublime sort of rejoicing in those moments of intense intellectual concentration and the sheer splendour of striving that comes to the fore.

    Jill, those who will examine you do so out of the game position of having been so examined. This grants you a certain psychological advantage. They will groove on your energy as it transports them to their own examinations. They cannot but help identify with your position and your success. The report states it: She succeeds in problematising the concept of interactivity. Which for me is code for one of the highest compliments: you ask interesting questions. And is not the asking of questions the very heart? soul? core? of interactivity???


  6. Eivind


    And good luck with defending it – I’m sure it won’t be a problem 🙂

  7. Florine

    Congratulations! & Of course good luck with the defense!

  8. Anne

    Congratulations! Of course you’re brilliant – now go kick ass at the defense 😉

  9. jon

    Well done, Jill. I am happy for you.
    Enjoy your defense. It’s your moment!

  10. mcb

    That’s great news Jill, congratulations. I have always thought your writing was very lucid and pleasurable to read.
    Wow, almost a doctor. How exciting….
    We need some details of the intended outfit, of course.

  11. Jesper Juul

    Husk nu at de har accepteret din afhandling fordi den _er_ god, og at du kan vÊre stolt af den!
    Ingen grund til falsk beskedenhed – hvis du lÊser den igen, vil du opdage at det er en god tekst du har lavet 🙂
    Og held og lykke med forsvaret!

  12. scott

    I think you’ll be brilliant.

  13. hanna

    Congratulations! I hope I get such nice comments from my committee when I reach that stage of my PhD!

    Remember to enjoy the defence; you’ll do brilliantly!

  14. Anonymous


    As Jesper said: when you reread, you will find that this Walker person has written a much better thesis than the one you remember handing in. That’s because you still have a memory of all the sentences and paragraphs you have deleted.
    And do enlarge the positive comments. That is what athletes do to keep motivated.

    Lykke til!

  15. Thomas

    I’ll help clean up after the party! Your defence will be a good show and a good time will be had by everyone. I know you’ll be great and that we’ll all enjoy listening to your defence. And then you can let out all the steam at the party!

  16. Hilde

    Gratulerer Jill! Selvsagt ble den godkjent.
    Du kommer til  like  forsvare avhandlingen din!
    For ikke  snakke om festen.. Joho!

  17. weez

    When I worked in theater, there was this magical moment called “preset”. It’s how the stage is as the audience files in, before the house lights go down and the show begins. Everything is at the ready. All the stuff that was to be done – the nuts and bolts, the script, the motivations – all hammered out. The show is done really, except for the audience, where it really counts (for them).

    I always thought preset was like the intake of breath before jumping off the edge. Enjoy!

  18. Lars Konzack


  19. Mouche


  20. Jason


  21. Jill

    Thanks everyone! It was quite wonderful to wake this morning to all these congratulations!


  22. vika

    Wonderful, wonderful news — or news to me, after a bit of ‘net-absence. You’ll shine.

  23. Deena

    Jill, that is wonderful. Congrats.

  24. Norman

    My favourite slogan in such situations is “Take no prisoners, show no mercy!” I’m doubtful, however, that you’d feel comfortable with the first half, and confident you’ll be in no need of the second; so I shan’t wish you good luck, but simply pass on my congratulations. cheers.

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