So, I thought I'd do a little blogging on the defense.
One of the best realizations of the day came before we even left the house for Princeton. Some of you knew that I'd decided to knit myself these crazy wonderful lace stockings to wear, and unfortunately, I didn't get them done. I was disappointed about it, since it was a sort of symbolic woman-power thing I'd wanted to do for myself. But then, as I was getting dressed, I realized that I was literally draping myself in clothes and jewelry from all these other wonderful, smart women in my life: Brent's mother Malda supplied both my beautiful woolen suit and the gorgeous vintage shoes, my mom gave me the turquoise earrings for my last birthday, my sister Ally the little leather braided bracelet I wear everyday. It was like a hybrid of getting dressed for a wedding (with something old, something borrowed, something blue) and girding up my loins for battle. And even better, I realized that all along, subconsciously, I'd planned this outfit just for this reason. (This may come across as way more overtly 'feminine' that you're used to hearing from JTB, but one thing the posthuman underscores is--body matters, self-fashioning matters, and it can be empowering, or not.)
Brent's posted some stuff on Facebook (where also a whole helluva lot of people have said congrats and other nice things, which I very much appreciate, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH, people!!!) but from my point of view, the lovely complimentary things Brent recorded in his self-appointed capacity as scribe were things that I heard but didn't quite take in, because I didn't want to be distracted from the kind of focus you need to maintain your verbal quick-wittedness in order to answer real questions. So it's especially nice to have his selectively-edited-for-maximum-complimentariness version of things to go back to in retrospect. Kind of like airbrushing a memory, or something.
The truth is, I totally enjoyed myself. First of all, you spend three years working on some idea, trying to follow all the leads and smooth out all the kinks, and write it down in an organized and compelling way, and during that whole time, if someone asks you what you're working on, you get a 2 minute or 10 minute or at best 30 minute conversation about it before you notice the glazed eyes and automaton responses that tell you once again you've turned into That Chick with the Dissertation Monomania. The defense is the reverse of that--a whole swath of time devoted to really digging into this thing, with people who are actually really interested in it, and have even read it. What is not awesome about that? And, on top of that, the critical questions I got--particularly on the Christology chapter--were really, really helpful. Some things I had thought about while writing it, and some things I just hadn't, but can see a whole new dimension to that chapter that can/should get thought through and written (at some point). Exciting!
And at the end of it all, to have three people you truly respect as scholars and teachers tell you that they think not only have you done a good job, but that what you've been spending your time on is important, and to formalize that with the lovely Latin phrase summa cum laude, and then, hang out and have a beer with you afterwards...well, I could have written a script for the ideal JTB dissertation defense, and it would have gone just so.
I am very happy.