The defense approacheth

Step one on the way to the defense: we (my little family) made it all the way to the East Coast. We’ve been enjoying some sights, struggling through the kids’ school work, and sort of adjusting to the time difference. Mostly we’ve ended up at Chipotle and the hotel pool.

What else I’ve been doing to prepare: I’ve read William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book to help me think through the inevitable portion of the defense that focuses on this topic. I mostly can’t imagine wanting to touch the dissertation again. I’ve imagined gritting my teeth and faking my way through that conversation. But Germano’s book helped me think through some ways that I might approach a revision of the manuscript and gave me a framework for re-reading my dissertation before the defense.

What I still need to do: (1) re-read the dissertation. I’ve got five days, so a chapter a day seems reasonable, though I might want to read it faster to have more of a sense of the continuity (or lack thereof). (2) prepare an “opening statement.” The first soft-pitch question will ask how I came to such an interesting topic. My advisor suggested that I can also use the time to bring up questions I hope to discuss in the defense and to head off some issues I’d rather leave alone. (3) read two reviews of a book I cite that I don’t have a great handle on. Clearly, this is not the time to do more research. However, I cite a big text by a big author, and I can only describe in the broadest terms what the book is about. I little review reading will put my mind at rest, I think.

So, dear readers. Any advice as I head into the final days before the defense? Any preparation tips? Advice for the defense itself?


4 thoughts on “The defense approacheth

  1. If you expect any audience at all beyond your dissertation committee and outside readers, make sure your opening statement lays out your argument–not just your topic–in clear and precise terms (preferably with some examples from the dissertation). There’s nothing worse than watching a dissertation defense, and having to piece together on the fly what the argument is.

    Best of luck!

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