Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hello again!

Hello dear readers,
I am back from the time warp that was submitting and shipping my dissertation! What a whirlwind the last month has been. And there's no rest for the weary. Between a short-term writing gig and some other projects and what-not these days, I am a busy little bee.

I just wanted to pop in here to let you know that, though I may have finished the biggest academic project I've yet done, a culmination of the ten or so years I've spent thinking about and working on the First World War since college, the Ghosts of 1914 are still with us--and me.

In the days after I turned in the dissertation, when everyone was saying, "you must be so relieved!" and "now it's time for a rest!" I'd nod, smile, and then think, "I sure wish I felt relieved and/or restful..." There are reasons for my lack of celebratory insouciance. Of course, handing in a dissertation is not the end of that particular process--there are numerous reviews that must take place before a degree is awarded. Waiting is the name of the game now. And, like many young academics in my position, I'm at a point between education and career when the next (professional) chapter is yet to be written and leaving the safe, structured, world of grad school (though it has its tribulations, of course) is thus a difficult prospect. Finally, the truth of having "finished" the last and most pivotal requirement of graduate school takes a long time to sink in.

Anyway, when one is at such a crossroads, it can be tempting to look, with a sudden flash of gleeful spite, at the books and papers that have set up shop in one's home and life--on desks, bookshelves, floors, bookbags, etc.--over the last several years and begin gathering, flinging, discarding, get the idea. I've known the pleasure of returning literally hundreds of library books and throwing out old drafts, and I've imposed mental quarantines forbidding certain authors or topics at such moments in the past.

However, I haven't really felt this urge this time around. Perhaps it's all still too new. But, I think there's another--better--reason. When I look at my bookshelves, I realize that my copies of Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Vera Brittain, Siegfried Sassoon, Helen Zenna Smith, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and so many others are old friends. Furthermore, I am still curious about so much of Great War history, culture, and arts. I still have so many questions and I can sense that there are so many stories that still need to be recovered from this moment in time.

While the climb was burdensome at times, I've gotten to the top of Dissertation Mountain and I can say that the view is dazzling. It's not entirely clear what all lies before me, but I do know that there is much more to explore. I've got WWI projects already up my sleeve, to be sure--more research I'd like to do, more writing (both academic and non-) I will do. And Ghosts of 1914 is definitely here to stay. This blog has been a delight and a source of support during the last year. Here, I've had the joy of pursuing detours and by-roads in WWI history and knowing that a community of readers joins me in my explorations.

Thank you for reading and do stay tuned. In the next weeks, I'll celebrate the first birthday of Ghosts of 1914 with plenty of new posts. It's good to be back.


© Fiona Robinson


  1. Congratulations again, Fiona, on your enormous accomplishment! I also took a look at your portfolio and am so impressed. Keep up the great work on Ghosts of 1914 for all us loyal followers!

  2. Thank you for your support, my friend! It means a lot to me :o)
    I will definitely keep up the blog. It's nice to get out from under the dissertation rock.

  3. I'm rather late, but congratulations!

  4. No worries at all--I appreciate your kind wishes! I'm still celebrating/reeling from the fact of dissertation doneness. Thank you!