This entry got delayed and delayed because I had so many different ideas in my head about how to write it. That feels a bit like a metaphor for the whole dissertation ... I also hesitated over the title [of this entry]. Strictly speaking my work here is only very nearly done, as I have a few trivial footnotes to revise, forms to submit, and Graduate School bureaucracy to wait for, before the degree is conferred. That's a metaphor for life and history itself. Few things have clear endings.
All that is prelude to saying that last Friday I successfully defended my dissertation. The title is "Her real sphere? Married women's labor force participation in the United States, 1860-1940". If you really want to know more ... you can easily contact me.
It's a good feeling to be done. The best metaphor for what the defense was like, was that it was like a moderately long race. The defense lasted about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and once I'd settled into the ebb and flow of the discussion it was good. I was tired afterwards—like you would be after racing for that long—but I didn't feel totally wiped out by it. All the advice I've gotten suggests that I should put the dissertation topic aside for a few months before returning to any research on it. In that way, defending your dissertation is like a marathon. You've got to forget about it before you return to it. Except that few people try and defend a dissertation in all fifty states. (I've heard of people with two PhDs, or a PhD and a MD. Not common, but not unheard of. My grandfather told me, erroneously I just now learn, that Albert Schweitzer had four doctoral degrees. The always reliable internet tells me that Schweitzer was merely accomplished in theology, music, philosophy, and medicine. His doctorate and M.D. appear to be his only academic qualifications.)
It will be easy to take a break from studying millions of dead men's wives, because on 1 July I take up my new job as a Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor in the North American academic system) in New Zealand and United States history at Victoria University of Wellington. This will not be news to some readers of this blog who I know in "real life," and will be news to others.
Hopefully time will allow me to maintain some blogging. That, after all, is the advantage of the magic internet. It's everywhere, even in New Zealand ... But who knows? In the last six months as I finished the dissertation it should have been obvious to regular readers that my intellectual energies were elsewhere. This blog has always been a eclectic mix of the personal, professional and political ... and I hope to keep it that way. The proportions of that mix are not fixed over time.
Academic readers may be curious to know whether the blog had any effect on my job search. If you go by the measure that I got the job, obviously not. I made no effort to highlight or hide the blog while I was applying for jobs. It's always been a useful discipline for me to imagine that people might read this while googling about my job application. If they exclude me on the basis of what I've written here, so be it. The blog is a good predictor of the kind of conservation you might have with me at morning or afternoon tea.
And on that note, time for an early morning cup of coffee ...Posted by eroberts at June 8, 2007 7:43 AM | TrackBack