A meme is doing the rounds, on dissertations' last words. (I first saw this meme via Tabitha.)
So, the last word of my dissertation was... "multitude."
Which is in some ways obvious, but precisely because it is so obvious, it surprised me.
In fact, however, that's the last word of my "postface." And that postface is meant to be in tension with the concluding, chapter, whose last word (as I did already know) is "dead."
Other people's last words have included disruption, discourse, cruel, fade, request, environment, data, harvest, years, and possible. Oh, and knitting, which I find kind of funny for some reason.
I remember that my friend Art had a great final word. Update: I have finally checked it out, and though Art himself swears that his last word was "home," in the copy of his dissertation that I have, it is "floodwaters." As in "a tomato, an ear of corn, floodwaters."