I passed my defense. And I'm not even scarred for life or anything. Predictably, Descartes asked the toughest questions, and there were moments when I felt like I was bluffing to some degree. I knew, for example, that some of Edgeworth's ideas were influenced by Adam Smith, because I'm pretty sure she name-drops him in Practical Education, but I couldn't have gotten any more specific than that ... so I didn't.
Victoria's comments and questions had more to do with the structure and nature of my argument. Her specialty is actually Victorian lit, so while Edgeworth technically overlaps her time period, she's not overly familiar with her work. She also brought up the paper I had written for her class about Rosina Bulwer Lytton, and asked me to compare Lytton's writing to Edgeworth's. I was really glad I had reread the paper last night.
Blackwood had already overseen several revisions of the essay, so his questions were of the "big picture" variety - how does Edgeworth fit into the development of the novel as a genre? If sentimental novels are still being published in the mid-nineteenth century, can we really say that the genre has advanced? That kind of question doesn't bother me too much; there's not really a right or wrong answer, as long as I'm able to speak knowledgeably about the answer I give.
Although the committee agreed that my project would need revision before I try to publish it - if nothing else, it's way too long for most journals - they also agreed that it would not need major revisions before they would pass it. So unless there's some sort of unthinkable clerical snafu, or the entire university burns to the ground, I will definitely graduate in April.