I greet you this week as a newly minted Doctoral Candidate! Until you begin writing your dissertation, you are merely a doctoral student. Once your dissertation prospectus is approved, you’re finally considered a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.
My defense was truly a pleasure. I have such a supportive committee of advisors, and although they spent quite a bit of the hour-long defense critiquing my work and pushing me to consider the weaknesses of the project, they also expressed optimism that the dissertation will make a significant contribution to the historical literature. The unanimous critique made by my three advisors was that the scope of the project—particularly the chronology—is too large. They encouraged me to focus on the 1960s and 1970s, and to pack the 1940s and 1950s into an initial, introductory chapter. I see their point. I tend to think very concretely, and in chronological order, and it’s reflected in my chapter outline. I begin at the end of WWII and slowly scaffold the narrative into the ‘60s and ‘70s. My committee pointed out that this scaffolding is not necessary, that much of the earlier story can be folded into the later narrative as historical context. So the defense was very productive and I feel better prepared to begin my archival research.
My plan for the rest of the summer, however, is to focus on reading rather than researching. I have several important texts to read that will help me contextualize my case studies. The additional benefit of reading and not researching/writing is that I will sneak a little break from the stress of constantly producing deep thoughts. I’m looking forward to a refreshing summer.