so, my examiners' report on my doctorate came through last week. It's a couple of thousand words so I shall c & p some highlights.
my writing is 'always competent and on occasion both moving and witty' though I must 'pay more attention to inelegant word repetition' which can 'demean my prose.'
There could have been 'a more thorough reckoning with the historiography' which suffers from some 'strange omissions,' and fails to 'engage with a more balanced collection.' Indeed at times my reading is 'pretty dated.' I could have done more reading in the anthropological and migration literature. In particular I suffer 'a continuining slight uneasiness with Italian civilian history.' This notwithstanding, my 'overall theses are pursued thoroughly and effciently and [my] conclusions are sensible and well made.'
I have failed to provide decent character portraits of the individuals who feature in my story, and they suggest that 'when she transposes the thesis into a book, she would be well advised to be more adventurous in this regard.' Another 'questionable omission' is Caporetto and my failure to explain it in great detail, which they suggest requires a seperate chapter.
'But we do not want a critical response to seem our main reaction as examiners,' they say, since in at last one respect I provide an analysis which has 'a profundity and sensitivity not replicated anywhere else in the scholarship. Her last chapter is a tour de force, [woohoo! yay for me] an integration of theoretical insights with empirical research and comparative points from other armies... which takes the debate about military morale onto fresh ground.'
They liked my range which they say is 'terrific' and especially they enjoyed the sections on 'songs, on officers' morale, on equipment, on siesta, on punishment, on Catholicism, on pay cuts, on the theory and practice of rotation' which they describe as highlights. 'In sum, she has written a fine thesis.'
Am pretty happy with all this as you can imagine. I now have a strategy for the thesis. I shall spend the next couple of months fixing their criticisms: a new chapter on Caporetto, some stylistic refinements, some specific tweaking of arguments, some biographical stuff on the relevant generals and politicians. Then I shall start sending it off to publishers. Yikes but also woo.