You can see what I replied to Abe about my work.
The whole thing was a nice sort of torture. My adviser kept saying things like “ritual scarification”. I think his was especially tough, too. For the written portion I had a total of 8 questions for 3 fields-- and I think over the 3 days I wrote about 60 something pages (that’s double spaced, though). In weeks before, I did some practice writing and that was another 50 or so pages, I think. I think between practice and the exams themselves, I wrote more than I did for my master’s thesis.
The defense wasn’t too stresssful - at least once I got there and started talking. The hardest field was Islamic world, (the 3 fields were US 19th/20th century, transnational, and Islamic) as the guy doing that is a known hardass (but he’s an amazing scholar and the only guy I’ve met in academia who I’d call an actual radical, actually, but he’s an old school punk and is out to save the world, too). That was kind of rough, but everyone seemed really happy with my answers for the most part, and they especially were happy with my essays… After my adviser went to the local cd/record/comic shop and then bought me a beer. My adviser is an amazing guy. He just published his book on the recording industry and copyright this year (Democracy of Sound - he starts one chapter by talking about the show What’s Happening!). I’m not sure how BB hasn’t picked up on his book, actually… But the department in generally is full of some pretty excellent professors who I think for the most part care about their students and really go out of their way to help them. It’s a good department, actually, and I’m happy to be there. I really don’t think I’d get a better education if I had gone to some more elite uni. I really do like the fact that we actually have to teach for our admittedly shitty pay. We do get like the university minimum, and do a fair amount of work for that. And we get no other support really (our grad organization hands out grants for conference/research travel, but it’s not much and the uni offers a grant for dissertation writing, but it’s for all departments and it’s only like $1000).
Okay… this is turning into a dissertation…