by Robin Marie
So huzzah!, I’m done with my dissertation and I have my degree. Hopefully that means I’ll be posting more things here in the weeks to come, since I’ll theoretically have time to spare. But first things first — here are my acknowledgements, which I’ll post here so that people can have access to them without having to download my entire dissertation, and because I can’t figure out how to make a “note” on facebook.
(Dedication, on previous page: For John Cleese & Tim Lincecum)
Contrary to popular myth, any accomplishment is the end product not only of the individual will and skills of the person accredited with the final product, but the influence, assistance, and generosity of untold numbers of people and institutions surrounding the supposed author. In this sense the list of people and places I am indebted to would indeed be endless – I could thank my favorite downtown coffee shop for providing me with a soothing space to focus on my work, I could thank the state of California for providing me with eleven years of high quality public education, and I could even thank random genetic chance for endowing me with an inquisitive mind and, mercifully, the ability to write drafts of dissertation chapters very, very quickly.
But in the interest of time and to make sure that the more immediate sources of my support receive a special spotlight, I’ll limit myself to the more obvious and traditional subjects of acknowledgements. First I would like to thank the members of my dissertation committee, Eric Rauchway, Kathy Olmsted, and Fred Block. All three have kept me on a long leash – which I probably did little to earn – allowing me to craft a dissertation that truly reflects my interests and passions while nonetheless guiding me with their insight and constructive criticism. I truly lucked out with the blessing of a committee that I always felt supported and never discouraged by.
I would also like to thank another group of people, who I barely know at all and certainly do not know personally, who were nonetheless central – and continue to be – in assisting my intellectual development. To the scholars who take time out of working on published articles and books to write blog posts accessible to any educated person: thank you. There are many of us lurkers reading away, which allowed me to get a feel for the lay of land without always having to endure awkward social moments at conferences or spend the money to get to said conferences. Countless were the mornings I spent over lattes and oatmeal cookies rapturously reading the latest post on Crooked Timber or the US Intellectual History blog. This is a real service to the community you should all be very proud of and I am quite grateful for it.
It would also very remiss of me to not thank our wonderful graduate secretary, Ross Eikenbary, whose patience in dealing with neurotic and occasionally panic stricken graduate students must be a world record. Thank you for never responding with irritation and always with kindness to the various questions, favors, and minor emergencies I peppered you with.
There is also a long list of personal friends without which I would have never developed the critical thinking skills or the political awareness that is necessary to the writing of any dissertation – especially one which dips so deeply into contemporary political questions. These include friends that were with me from the beginning of graduate school, who joined me in the early days of distant cynicism and helped me move bit by bit out of that space. To Amanda – there is something about the combination of British punk music and post-modern crisis that fit weirdly well together, and without someone to join me and inform me in that space I’m not sure exactly where my trajectory would have ended up in later years. I can’t thank you enough for that time together. And to Daniel – the topic of this dissertation is in large part a product of the countless discussions we had together, and I know that I have ended up where I am because of the way our friendship expanded my horizons and taught me the true meaning, and challenge, of empathy.
I would like, however, to devote a distinct paragraph to my many friends and fellow graduate students in the history department: you are all amazing. At a time when I was greatly in need of both political engagement and personal support, you provided me with both in spades. Our discussions, laughter, and late-night shenanigans gave me not only the type of close-knit intellectual community I have longed craved, but the type of joyous and hopeful friendships that make it possible to believe we can make something better out of this world. You inspire me every day. Of course, it would be particularly remiss of me not to extend a particular thank you to my friend and partner, Eran. As the only person I’ve met who can match me in both endurance and sheer delight in argument, you’ve helped me clarify countless intellectual positions I never knew I had and consider discarding a few I did know about. Your patience, wisdom, and ability to fall asleep in nearly any given situation provides me with a calm spot in the middle of any storm, and I can’t thank you enough for being the open, empathic, intelligent and curious person you are.
Of course, all of this would have been impossible were it not for my family and my devoted, generous, and wonderful mother and father. All the political difference in the world could not dull my appreciation for what you have done for me – I am where I am today because of you. To Mom – thank you so much for always laughing at my jokes, ever since I was a child. To have you appreciate my irreverent and mischievous personality from my earliest days gave me the acceptance and encouragement I needed to bravely be myself in all spheres. To Dad – my memories of you sitting by my bedside all night, patiently helping me deal with my fears of aliens, ghosts and frozen Mel Gibsons will always, as long as I live, stand out in my mind as the exemplary expression of unconditional love. I am one of the luckiest people on the planet for having you both in my life. To my sister Michelle – you are a light beam of optimism and unguarded enthusiasm in a world sorely lacking both. You’ve been an incredible source of support and encouragement, a personal cheerleader which I can always rely on. Thank you.
On a more trivial note, I would like to thank the San Francisco Giants and again, Eran, for introducing me to the wonderful, addicting, incredibly soothing game of baseball. To become a passionate baseball fan in a year when your team wins the World Series is a ridiculous stroke of good luck, and unlike so many fans across the country I do not have to experience years and years of waiting and near-misses before experiencing that. It’s really stupid how great this game is and how much I love this addition to my life. Go Giants!
And finally, last but not least, thank you to my beloved pooch, Maverick. Seven years ago you joined me at the beginning of this journey, and when I took you home that night I held you in my arms and promised to always take care of you. Seeing that, despite multiple emergency vet visits and my failure to teach you to come when called, you are still alive, it would seem I have thus far succeeded – however you have taken care of me every bit as much as I have taken care of you. Thank you for not knowing a damn thing about human concerns – thank you for never being able to read these words, although you might chew on a copy of them left carelessly in the room. And thank you for being so damn adorable. I love you.