Monday, December 08, 2008

Defense Done

One cannot complete a PhD without the help of one's departmental secretary. (Or, very likely, go in to the defense without some coffee, at least when somehow there hasn't been time for either breakfast or lunch.)

I was asked to start off with a little introductory piece about how the project developed and what possessed me to undertake it or alter it or spend such an abnormal amount of time reading old Czech magazines.

My committee seemed to want me to expound on quite a few things, and looked very grave when not in fits of laughter. Their first question was why I hadn't put the title on the manuscript. As usual, I couldn't remember what on earth I had called it. This prompted various suggestions which were regarded as extremely witty and which went by far too quickly for me to write down.

After the committee admitted that they thought it was a pretty good dissertation, and after they had incited me to blather on for an hour or so about who knows what, we decided it was time for the champagne.

Some people weren't sure whether I was capable of opening a champagne bottle without help. It's true I hadn't opened one in awhile and had forgotten that a corkscrew is not needed.

I managed to spill only a small amount of champagne, none of it on the dissertation itself.

Finally we had the glasses filled and proceeded to clink our fancy departmental plasticware.

Finally, my advisor examined an Archelaus card and wanted to know why I had failed to thank her for "the embroidered codpiece."

Photos by Kristen.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...



December 09, 2008 3:21 PM  
Blogger peacay said...

Please accept my most sincere and heartiest congratulations. Well done!!

Surely a surrealist thesis is entitled to be untitled.
"Dear committee, it were writ in lemon juice. Deal."

December 09, 2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

If only I had thought of the lemon juice option. They're taking me out to dinner tonight so perhaps I can get all of their lewd title suggestions in writing.

December 09, 2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Karla, congratulations! Great to hear its done. Shouldn´t you celebrate once more in Prague?
Hanka Ripkova

December 09, 2008 4:15 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Hanka, what a pleasant surprise! I had no idea you still read my blog. Yes, I ought to celebrate in Prague, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to come back. I'm looking for a job and that will probably mean moving over the summer.

My committee was delighted with the way I was able to acquaint them with First Republic Czechoslovakia, and I could not have done it without the support of Fulbright/Fulbright-Hays. Thanks for helping make this possible!

December 09, 2008 4:34 PM  
Blogger Julia said...


December 09, 2008 10:46 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

What, no cake?

December 11, 2008 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations,Karla! I agree, you should celebrate in Prague, but also in CA. See you soon to propose a toast, perhaps one without a title.

December 12, 2008 5:15 AM  
Blogger morskyjezek said...

Na zdraví!

December 12, 2008 3:08 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

You're an inspiration to all of us! Congratulations :)

December 12, 2008 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great news

I would like to read your dissertation. The more I learn about the First Republic, the more I wish it still existed. You probably know about the exhibit in the National Museum now with the Munich Agreement on display.

I like the dress you wore too, did you find it in some old Toyen archive?

best from Prague

December 12, 2008 7:30 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Thanks, everyone. And also thanks to those who emailed their kind wishes and other commentary. This included the likes of "Best wishes from Amsterdam airport," "yay! you rock," "The photo documentary was very funny," and "When you all are finally raising your plasticware in a Salud, your expression is one of true and deep satisfaction." In agreement with Lawrence, one of my friends says "And wonderful green blouse (or dress, I couldn't
tell)." (It's a sweater plus a pleated wool skirt.) Lawrence, I'll email you re the diss itself, which you're welcome to read.

December 13, 2008 7:30 PM  

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