My Viva was a surprisingly joyous experience. I am fully aware that not everybody is as lucky, even if their thesis is sound in the main. I’ve had several friends who have had a truly rough ride. One was nearly broken by their viva experience and it was an act of will for that person to continue to the end result. I admire those who keep going under those circumstances and they will always have the support of CoomberSewell Enterprises if they want it. There are other ways for showing collegiality, by the way. We offer 10% discounts to students and alumnae of our Universities: Canterbury Christ Church, Liverpool Hope and the University of York.
But I digress. As I predicted, preparing for the Viva on the day became a much more practical task than any other exam I have sat before. In addition to thinking about what clothes would not only make a good impression, but would put me in the right mindset, the room I was being examined in (our bedroom/office) had to be tidied to ensure that my Kermit Onesie was not visible and a cat couldn’t gate crash. In the end, every member of the household was locked out – including the wife! We probably had better hope the examiners never read this, as I have to admit to being beautifully presented from head to toe, but with a blanket wrapped round everything below camera level – it was cold!
So, when the opening remark of my viva was to the effect that the decision had already been made that I would be passing with minor corrections, did I feel a fool for being so thorough in all my preparations? Heck, no! The efforts I made put me in the right frame of mind for what would come next – an invigorating and largely enjoyable interrogation of a variety of issues, which led to my correction list. I was (inevitably) asked a theory question. Foucault is not an easy read, and apparently, neither was my interpretation of him. I was also asked what I might research next and what was original about my work. Honestly, if you don’t know these two are coming, shoot your supervisor!
I have 3 months to make my corrections. On paper, there are five of them, and three have already largely been dealt with. There is, however, another document I have been sent, the internal examiners annotated copy of my thesis. While I don’t have to take these into account, I’d be daft if I didn’t. In a way, this process of corrections is a good thing, not only for the standard of my finished and final thesis, but for the transition period I find myself in. This gives me three months to make my corrections, write up a couple of tangential research projects I have bubbling along. This will help me ease myself out of the student mindset and back into the full time world of work, in whatever academic or alternative-academic form that might take.
What does this mean for CoomberSewell Enterprises? Increasingly I will be looking at research work, archivism or museum projects, quality assurance of documents. These all use and increase the skills I’ve gained and grown to love through my studies. I was going to say that this is a new adventure, but increasingly I am aware that it is simply another chapter of the same adventure, one that I can shape and form, which is a rare thing in these COVID days. It is a precious gift and I invite you all to kick me should I ever take it for granted.