On December 2nd, it was my pleasure to defend my PhD dissertation in a viva at Heriot-Watt University. Well, due to the travel restrictions related to COVID, the viva didn’t take place in Edinburgh—as would typically be the case. Instead, it was conducted over Zoom.
Two examiners reviewed my dissertation over a two month period before the viva. Kerstin Pfeifer, PhD (Heriot-Watt University) was the internal examiner, with Michael Gulliver, PhD (University of Bristol) serving as the external examiner. After a three-hour conversation and a brief interval, I was informed that I had passed the viva! As is the tradition in the viva format, the examiners prepared a list a corrections—similar to a peer reviewed journal. The changes are nicely manageable!
My dissertation is titled Sign Language Interpreter Space:
a phenomenological case study of interpreted theatre. In it, I describe my study of the connection between meaning and production of space during sign language interpreted theatre performances (SLIPs). My research borrows from theories of deaf geography and theatre topography, and my findings lead to a framework for considering interpreter space.
Had the viva been conducted in Edinburgh, my supervisors (Jemina Napier, PhD and Annelies Kusters, PhD) and I would have spent the afternoon celebrating with my husband (and others) over lunch. Viva-ing via distance meant that the husband and I were left on our own to devour the celebratory cake.
I’m so very grateful to everyone involved in my research project, and to the Deaf people, interpreters, and actors who have been a part of my TerpTheatre journey all these years.
The findings from my dissertation will eventually become articles and blogs. I look forward to sharing these online on terptheatre.org and on social media. As I do, the website will begin shifting toward a resource about theatre interpreting research and technique.
And now that the PhD is done, it may be time to get back on stage (cracks knuckles). (Knees crack back.)
Danny McDougall, PhD, CSC — “Dr. Danny” — owns and manages TerpTheatre. Since 1986, he has interpreted in hundreds of plays, musicals and other performances on stage – most in the shadowed style. He teaches and lectures on the theory and practice of theatre interpreting. Danny is the chair of Sign Language Studies at Madonna University, and holds a PhD in Translation and Interpretation from Heriot-Watt University – where his dissertation explored the relationship between space and meaning during interpreted theatre performances.