9.00 am. I digitised several text articles related to my research in order to dispose of their analogue source. Afterwards (and with a stiff tea and a square of ultra-dark, chilli-savoured, boutique chocolate to hand), I returned to my assessment of an MPhil Art History thesis.
What one looks for in good chocolate, as in a good thesis, is solidity, consistency, maturity, bite, crispness, sophistication, a balance of flavours, a memorable aftertaste, and the ability to promote an enthusiasm for more. I made critical notes and commentary for the remainder of the morning.
1.40 pm. Now past the half way point — a critical juncture. Is the reader inclined to go on? Whatever else an academic work may aspire to, it ought to be a compelling read.
3.45 pm. On, then, to the report. Judicious balance is called for: applause for achievement, where due, seasoned with salt and vinegar. Neither unstinting praise nor undiluted censure ever helped anyone.
6.30 pm. Practice session 1.
7.30 pm. On with the report. It necessitated a more detailed response than I’d anticipated. Balanced, reasoned criticism, supportive suggestions, and a doable plan of action take time and space to compose, and to convey with a degree of compassion. By 9.00 pm, it was in the bag and on its way to the external examiner and the viva voce Chairman. Tomorrow sees the start of a week of fine art feedback tutorials.
9.30 pm. Practice session 2.