I wrote earlier that the five-year process with my doctoral dissertation is in its final stages. During the spring, it went through preliminary examination, and in May I got permission for my public defense. So I’ve been making the final corrections and will arrange for layout and printing. Then it goes on display, or as we say, gets nailed on the university bulletin board. The public defense itself takes place at the beginning of August.
This defense is an academic play that follows traditional forms, with faculty, other university staff, family, and friends as the audience. They rise as the characters enter the auditorium: the doctoral candidate first, followed by the Custos – the supervisor of the dissertation – and lastly by the Opponent.
The Custos opens the session, after which I as the doctoral candidate give a lectio praecursoria, a short lecture on the themes of the dissertation. The Opponent follows with a general statement of the work, then begins going through it in detail and posing questions. At the end of the examination, the Opponent gives a final statement and hopefully will propose that my dissertation should be accepted. Finally, the three main characters exit the auditorium in the same order as they entered.
Afterward, a post-doctoral party is also an old academic tradition. The Finnish word for the party is ”karonkka”, which comes to Finnish from the Russian word korona ‘crown’. The stated purpose is to honor the Opponent, though nowadays it is customary to invite relatives and friends as well. It begins formally with a dinner and speeches, but I am planning to extend the festivities by adding a more informal post-karonkka.
The word of the week is going on its usual summer break, and I will start preparing my lectio, defense, and karonkka. I will return in August, hopefully more proficient.