Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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A Year in the City (PhD Marks)

When I got back on Friday, the markers reports for my doctorate had arrived, and they were pretty sweet.

Here's how it works: You don't get marks, really, rather you get one of five recommendations, numbered 1 to 5. The first is "The thesis merits the award of the degree", and fifth is "The thesis does not merit the award of the degree and does not demonstrate sufficient ability by the candidate for a resubmitted thesis to merit the award". I had three markers, and one gave me a 1, and the others gave me a 2, which is "The thesis merits the award of the degrees subject to minor corrections as listed being made to the satisfaction of the head of school". Those corrections? Typos.

(That laughter you can now hear is every editor, publisher and proof reader I've worked with. I'm an absolutely terrible proof reader and cannot be trusted to work my own stuff. Frankly, I think the comments are very minor--a page on both those examiner reports, but you know how it is.)

Outside that, however, the reports were really positive, and I'm all good in passing and being award the Doctor of Philosophy. Party tricks ahoy. Now, while there is about eleven pages in all for the three examiners, I'm going to quote some of it below so you can all know my brilliance. Plus, A Year in the City took me four fucking years to write, and it's just joy to get good words back on it. Seriously.

So here we go:

"This is a highly original work. I would begin by congratulating the candidate for pursing a project such as this with such audacity (and the supervisors who let him off the lead)."

"This is a beautifully written novel and quite different; it's not easy to do the different thing effectively, but Peek has achieved this and produced a narrative that is readable, interesting and intriguing in a rhizomatic way."

"The creative writing amply demonstrates its immersion and deep consideration of significant issues about Australian history and culture, particularly as they relate to the history and culture of Sydney--its multiculturalism, its genesis in dispossession and the questions of race and whiteness that dominate its history and underpin its imagination. The thesis overallmakes strong, interesting links between land ownership, race and migration as a way of both theorizing the city and representing it in a work of fiction."

"This is a bold project that utilises a variety of genres, including the postcard, historical fiction, and magic realism, or more particularly, the magic in realism, to produce a multi-layered representation of the city in time, image and cultural resonance. It is a wonderful digging exercise, from the sands of Bondi Beach into the genealogical landscapes of the past, and back to the contemporary frictions and fractures of the present."

"It is refreshing to read a novel that does not, in any obvious/predictable way, have an overall plot structure and that works on a micro-narrative level. for me, each mirco-narrative worked on its own as well as working as part of a larger story. Ie. it did not seem like a collection of short stories (one possible reading); it seemed like a novel held together via its themes -- primarily racial and spatial."

"...the novel begins to read like a thematically linked collection of short stories, rather than as a cohesive (if fragmented) novelistic text. There are stories that contribute more successfully to the mosaic effect than others; they are shorter narratives -- those that suggest slivers, or moments, of story and event."

"The elaborate and extensive use of footnoted information brings many of the characters into credible 'being' in interesting and innovative ways. This abbreviated characterisation technique works for me but I can also see how this might be irritating for readers."

"It was a weird reading experience, but I purposely didn't read the exegesis until I'd read the narrative(s). Hence, I positioned myself as an ordinary reader and academic examiner; as such, I found the novel compelling, thought-provoking and (the most important criteria in my opinion) interesting."

"A Year in the City is also an ethical work, with the writer being aware of his subjective and ultimately authoritative position without ever turning the work into an unhelpful and unnecessary act of autocriticism; which is ultimately self-defeating in that the only way out of such dilemmas is not to do the work at all. Writing about race relations, both creatively and critically in Australia can be a fraught area of production."

"In conclusion, the work is not only highly creative, it is a 'good read', which may not be the most sophisticated response to a doctoral thesis, but it is in the end an important one... I wish the student the best in the future, hoping he continues with his research and writing."
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