On Friday the 4th of December I sent a PhD thesis off into the void. Four years of work, and many sleepless nights in recent weeks, uploaded through a deceptively simple internet portal for other people to judge. I like to think it’s worth their time. Worth my time too, for that matter, but that judgement will not be rendered until next year.
In the meantime, below are the acknowledgements included with my thesis. My adviser informed me that a single typed page was more than enough space to acknowledge everyone who needs thanking. My thank yous come out to exactly two typed pages.
We’ll call it an act of rebellion.
To everyone mentioned, and everyone not, thank you again. Thank you for your patience, for putting up with whatever Frankenstein facts I forced on you, and for your friendship.
Neither books nor barns can be written or raised alone and this thesis is no different.
Graham Allen, friend, mentor, tireless corrector of syntax, and connoisseur of every Mary Shelley book known to man, thank you. I walked into your office in 2016 with a very bad joke about wanting to stay in Ireland and you didn’t throw me out immediately. For that alone, I will always be grateful. In years to come, when a nervous masters’ student walks into my office with bad jokes and a vague desire to research early science fiction, I hope to be a tithe as understanding as you were that day. Thank you for your generosity, your patience, and for setting an example of the kind of professor and academic I hope to be.
To the English Department at UCC writ large, thank you for providing a welcoming community and open doors to a strange little American with her Frankenstein project. Particular thanks to Anne Fitzgerald, for being the manager of all crises and fixer of all things, to Claire Connolly for wise council and friendly words, Edel Semple for jokey Shakespeare comics, and to Ken Rooney for showing me the Disputation Between the Body and Worms just in time for it to become one of my chapter quotes.
Rosin Crowley, my grandfather used to say that when all else fails, read the funny book—his term for an instruction manual. I would amend that to add that when all else fails, call an expert. Thank you for being my French expert, providing a beautiful translation of Le Mirior, and being on hand to answer questions after the translation was completed. There was a heady moment when I thought Google translate and I could manage on our own, and that was wrong notion indeed. In years to come, I will always remember to call an expert.
To my PhD cohort en masse, thank you. Together we have groaned while grading essays, laughed over pints, and encouraged each across Zoom and Facebook. This has been the longest year on earth and there is no lie when I say that without all of you my project would be a weaker, paler, pile of papers. Thank you especially to Anne Mahler and Éadaoin Regan, co-conspirators in podcasting and friends who are always willing to put up with my bullshit, academic and otherwise. If you judged me for some of my crazier hypothetical questions, you never made me feel lesser for that judgement, and have always made me laugh on the low days.
To the Butchers, online and in person—thank you for poetry. And for putting up with more than one poem about dead things. You forced me to reassess my poetry and get out of my own head for a few hours on Thursday evenings when I needed it most. Thank you for line breaks and grammar talk and for helping me remember how many cents some words are worth.
Michelle, my green card fiancé, and your incredibly patient partner Leo, thank you both—for providing a Dublin escape and beyond when I needed it. Someday this pandemic will end and we’ll pack ourselves off on holiday together, somewhere sunny and inexpensive, where we can drink wine by the gallon and dance late into the night, and it will be glorious. Until then, thank you both for your kindness, your love, and your offer of a felonious way to keep me in Ireland should it ever be needed.
Finally, ever and always, thank you to my family: Parentals, sister figure and her husband, assorted mad aunts and patient uncles, endless, scattered cousins, and Grandy and Grandmommie; thank you. Thank for love and for support. For understanding that the youngest of the brood needed to read and write and talk about her reading and writing ad nauseum. Thank you for teaching me number games for teamwork and strategy, and word games for adaptability and quick thinking. Thank you for never letting me feel like my curiosity was a burden. Thank you for teaching me to look for my own answers in history, in art, in literature, and in myself. Because of all of you, I know who I am.
And most especially, the deBies and Beils. Every summer and Christmas for four years now, I have come home to you. To Friday night takeaways and fresh tea in the mornings. To endless walks with the dogs and eternally impatient cats. You have borne the brunt of my insecurities about myself, my work, and my future. Without your comfort, your support, your love: Dad’s quiet nightcaps on the patio, Mary and Steve’s clinic stories, and Mom’s tireless attention to my commas, I would not have finished. Without all of you, I might not have even begun.
There are no words big enough, no phrases elegant enough to encompass all that I would say, so I will simply repeat myself one more time: Thank you.