Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

27 March 2008

I Guess Microsoft Word Must Have Hyphenated "Reichian The-rapist"

I defended my thesis this afternoon for my committee.

The document is entitled Violence and the Queer Subject in the Plays of David Rudkin and Mark Ravenhill, and I passed my defense.

The committee talked to me for about two hours, and I talked back. We discussed the choices I made: the reasons I did certain things, omitted certain referents, ways in which I could improve, words I could define better, etc. They gave me seven notes that I need to address before they will sign off on the thesis. Well, actually, everyone but my advisor has signed off on it. After I address the notes then she will sign it and it can be approved by the university.

Some of the notes are big deals: one of my readers would like me to clarify my use of the term "subject." In fact, during my defense she asked me to define the term as I was using it in my thesis. I don't know why the term needs a definition, but she thought it was unclear. "A subject is an object," is what I told her. And then I quoted Althusser. While she was reading, I guess she kept thinking I was speaking about the characters in the plays as though they were Lacanian subjects. So now I need to define it in the thesis. No small task. How am I going to work something that clunky into my argument? "Let us pause for a moment and address what I mean by 'subject.'" Yikes.

Some of the notes are very minor: the committee, for instance, unanimously agreed that they want me to turn off Microsoft Word's automatic hyphenation function. Hahaha!

The committee also dislikes my citation method and they asked me what format I was using. Now, I knew from the start that this was going to be a problem but I like the way I am citing things and so I wanted to argue about it. "I got the format from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet," I said. "I copied the format directly from there."
We argued about this for a bit. Everyone still dislikes it, although I can't figure out why. I think it's very clear. And then came my most brilliant moment of the day:
Someone asked "Well, who published Epistemology of the Closet? What press was that?"
"I believe it was the University of California Press out of Berkeley," I said.
"I think it was Routledge," one of the guests offered.
"I'll look it up," another of the guests said. (She had her computer out during the entire defense. It was actually quite distracting.)

Now, there is no earthly reason for me to know who published Epistemology of the Closet, or for anyone else to know that information for that matter. But, sure enough: UC Press, Berkeley. I grinned to myself. Totally meaningless trivia, but I knew it anyway.