Viva

Yesterday I defended my thesis ‘Exploring male disordered eating: a hermeneutic study of men’s relationships with food, body and self.’ I passed, without corrections. I can’t actually express how thrilled I am. I sobbed uncontrollably when I got home after celebrating last night. This captures just how grateful, relieved, proud, exhausted and overwhelmingly pleased I am, I think.

I was given quite a bit of advice beforehand and all of it was both sound and extremely useful. I felt prepared when I walked in but I was still extremely nervous. But as people had told me, the whole thing was conducted as an academic debate. in fact, once I’d overcome my nervousness and gotten into my stride, I found that I rather enjoyed the experience. Here were two people who were not only extremely knowledgeable themselves but they had read my whole work and they were interested to talk about it. They gave me additional insight and ideas, as well as probing about my process. I had chance to genuinely formulate discussion and ideas that had been with me throughout the journey but which I had only ever had chance to share with my supervisors before. My examiners were thorough and detailed, and expressed a shared passion for many of the things I had explored and revealed through my research work.

My supervisors were excellent, as they have been throughout. Their support, wisdom and patience were integral to my arriving at this point. So, heartfelt thanks to Ian and Gillian.

The independent chair was very effective, he held proceedings together, made sure that formalities were observed in order to make sure that the viva complied with the university regulations but he also made things welcoming and helped me to begin to relax into the process as soon as we arrived in the room.

It’s an indescribable feeling when years of slog and endeavour feel like they pay off and come to culminate in an academic conversation that offered me the chance to show just how much I knew about the topic I had studied.

I met my friends for some fizz after the event and had a lovely evening and today my brother and dad are coming to celebrate with me. I am so glad to be having a proper break for the first time in years.

Then, in 2017, I’m going to work on publishing like crazy, and I’m so looking forward to it…

My sincere thanks to Professor Brendan Gough and Dr Paul Sullivan (my examiners), and to Professor Emeritus Ian Burkitt and Dr Gillian Proctor (my supervisors).