Wednesday, October 21, 2009

how it went

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.


Annie said...

How wonderful! And Bob is really serious about wanting to take a look at your dissertation. Could you email him (or me) a Word or pdf file? Too bad about the stockings; I was looking forward to seeing the finished product, but I suppose they'll still get finished.

Mike the Eyeguy said...

Great story. Congrats, Doc. This took me back to 1992 when I was 30 years old and my mind was quick and nimble. I sat before the North Carolina Board of Examiners in Optometry for my oral exam. They tried their best to stump me, but I dazzled them with my over-stuffed brain. Afterwards, we sat around and talked shop off the record (no beer,regrettably). It was a true Jesus-in-the-Temple moment. Sounds like yours was too.

Kara said...

I just learned it was Summa tonight! Even without that, I was thrilled for you. Now I'm thrilled and impressed.

Congratulations! Soak it in and enjoy!

(Kara L-P)

TKP said...

Now I can really send you that mug (as soon as I get paid!) Congrats- you rock Dr. JTB!

PWebb said...

Way to go, Cuz! It sounds like you really knocked it out of the park. I knew you would.

Lara said...

Congratulations! I look forward to hearing more from you, Doc!

SteveA said...