THESISCRAZY 2: The Return of the Electric-Jedi-Boogaloo-The Two Towers

Persevere, my senior comrades. The end is near – and it will be oh so sweet. Just hang in there, grit your teeth, suck in your belly, and ride this one last wave.

This is your main man, frostedmoose, spinnin’ the soulful tunes into this night and bringing to you the second installment of THESISCRAYCRAY. Peace out, homie.

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Alyssa Bogdanow ’11, ANTH/RELI, Fourth Floor of Olin

Working title: “Being is Becoming: Unitarian Universalist Conversion Narratives”

On her topic: “It’s based off field work I did at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden – so, essentially 90% of Unitarian Universalists are converts of people who are born of other religions.  [This thesis] is looking at how and why they come to Unitarian Universalism and once they do, how they develop a Universalist identity.”

On her thesis: “I’ve finished writing a couple of week ago. Starting last May my advisor said that I had to have a draft done by April 1st, so the whole year that has sort of been the goal. Since then it’s just been editing… It’s about 130 pages, and so proofreading 130 pages of your own writing is the most painful thing I’ve ever done.”

How have people been responding to your thesis? “One of the main questions people ask is whether or not this is all part of my conversion [to Unitarian Universalism]. It’s not.”

Advice for future writers: “Stay organized. At this point, I have books in my carrel, in my car, in my living room, my bedroom, the kitchen… things are all over the place, which has been a pain.”

Plans for Tuesday: “I’m going to be at the steps, and I’ve got a ticket for the Matisyahu concert, so I guess I’ll do that. I’ve also got to start applying for jobs. I have no future right now.”

David Thompson ’11, GOVT, Floor 3A of Olin

Working title: [nervous, shaky laughter] “Something about the ‘Psychological Citizen'”

On his topic: “It’s a political theory thesis about how the popularity of psychological sciences affects citizenship in America.”

On his thesis: “It’s been difficult, but I think at this point rewarding. It’s just now only feels like it’s coming together, but it took a long time for it to get this way. It’ll be interesting to see if it make any sense even to me at the end.”

Advice for future writers: [long, drawn out exhausted laughter (?)] “Just steel yourself…. It’s a long haul.”

Plans for Tuesday: I will be getting to a place where I won’t know what I’ll be doing, to a point where I won’t remember anything. I’ll be celebrating…. I’ll be in shock. I’ll be a different person at this point.”

If your thesis title were a summer blockbuster movie, what would it be? “The Attack of the Psy-Complex, or The Attack of the Social.”

Miranda Becker ’11, CSS/ECON, All over the damn place

Working title: “‘Call and Response: European Union and Chinese Evolutions in Assisting African Development’… it’s not the best title so I’m probably going to end up changing it.”

On her topic: “So my project is looking at European Union development assistance to oil-rich African states. It’s basically asking two questions: Are European Union development assistance policies changing in oil-rich African States?  And, is China impacting these changes?”

On the Research Process:     “I started conducted research on EU assistance policies in Fall 2009, when I studied abroad in Amsterdam. But I’ve been doing research specifically for this project since Spring 2010.”

On the Writing Process: “I’ve been shocked at how long it takes to write and edit. I usually think of myself as a really quick writer – I’m a really slow reader but a pretty quick writer – but, uh, not so much now…. I think I just underestimated how overwhelming it would be to looking at a 150-250 page project. When you’re looking at this huge project staring you in the face, it’s not the same thing as writing your 15-page final research paper for your tutorial. I thought it would be the same thing – just many, many versions of that  over and over again – but it didn’t work like that. It turns out emotions play a lot into this. [laughs]”

Advice for future writers: “Start writing as early as you can, even earlier than anyone tells you to. If you’re writing case studies, start writing them in October – the way a department is structured is that you have tentative introduction, plus a full chapter by the end of winter break or by the end of finals week first semester, and then you’re supposed to do the rest of your writing second semester because you’re researching all first semester. But that’s a terrible idea, because you’re always going to end up doing more research as you figure out questions you have to ask and part of the way you learn is the writing.”

Plans for Tuesday? “Uhm, so many friends are bringing me alcohol it’s embarrassing. I don’t usually drink at all, so…”

Summer Blockbuster Thesis Movie Title: “‘Europe II: So Soft, So Benevolent.’  What do you think?  Should I keep trying?  ‘Europe II: The Expired Colonist.’  Something like that.”

Eli Hetko ’11, RUSS/RULE, Olin Microfilms Carrel (but usually works at home)

Working Title: “Mitki and Kharms”

On his topic: “It’s about avant-garde literature in St. Petersburg. I’m talking about this artist group from the 1980s called Mitki, and I’m tracing their connection to this earlier avant-garde figure called Daniil Kharms. I’m discussing how they took on some of his attitudes – like how the world around them being absurd, and in order to fight that absurdity and hypocrisy of the system you have to be crazier than the system.”

On how he found the topic: “I have this friend who studied abroad with me in St. Petersburg who got into them.”

On the Writing Process: “It’s been okay; I stayed here over break, and that’s when I got the majority of the work done. I’ve kind of secluded myself – I think the key is a lot of isolation.”

On whether isolation hurts his social life: “Uhhh… yeah. I think I’ve mostly seen only the people who live with me over the past couple of weeks.”

Plans for Tuesday: “I think just the standard. I actually have a nice bottle of champagne that my aunt and uncle got me for my 21st birthday (September 1010) that I’ve been saving for this occasion.”

Summer Blockbuster Thesis Movie Title: “Let’s call it ‘Crazy Russians in Space.’ They would also wear something like this… [here Hetko points to his sleeve, which has the pattern of the kind worn by the guy in this picture]”

Tyler Wuthmann ’11, FGSS/MB&B, Floor 2A of Olin

Thesis Title: “It’s called ‘Animal Attentive Queer Theories,” and I refuse to place a colon. There’s this movement of people putting things after the colon, but I don’t think I have anything to put after it.”

On his topic: “It’s about different theories of subjectivity that have existed within queer theory that necessarily purport a humanist model. So, feminists have long called for an intersectional analysis between race, gender, class, etc., but what remains in the middle of all these theories is the human-animal binary. All these theories are unable to attend to the experiences, personalities, communications, relations with animals…. what I am attempting to do show through their genealogies the humanist underpinnings and try to redo those.”

“That’s a surprisingly concise description.” “Thank you. I’ve, uh, had to tell people this a lot, because usually when you say ‘queer’ and ‘animal’ in the same sentence people think ‘bestiality?’ So I had to come up with a really good explanation.”

On the Research Process: “So, I was lucky enough to get the Hughes fellowship over the summer – they somehow paid me to write about queer animals for some odd reason. I sort of tricked them into thinking that I was writing about animals in laboratories, which I was not [laughs]. They paid me to research… so I kind of got a head start, and I came into December with a full draft of my thesis. So I’ve just been revising my thesis since January.”

Plans for Tuesday: “I don’t drink, so I’ll probably just do an Apple Cider-40 hands. I was also thinking maybe a cigar… I don’t know, I feel like I need to assert some sort of white masculinity in the face of all this feminist underpinnings in my thesis. But after that, I’ll actually try to remember what it means to sleep.”

If you’re thesis was a summer movie blockbuster, what would it be? “Well, first of all, it would be starring Jake Gyllenhaal, obviously. And there would probably be an incestuous scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal, but she would probably be playing a character that’s not his sister. It’s kind of like a meta-taboo thing. There would also probably be a lot of polar bears and animals… mostly polar bears and dogs. Because those are the only two things I talk about in my thesis. It would probably be called ‘A Love Affair between a Dog and a Polar Bear.'”

Life advice: “Convincing people that you’re writing on what they think you’re writing about (even though it’s not) is an essential part of the thesis.”

Margot Racek ’11, COL/BIO, Basement Floor of Olin

Thesis Title: “Oh my god, I have not come up with one that doesn’t have a lot of words I’ve made for.”

“If you were to wing it?” “It would be ‘The Spectacularization of Justice: The Political-Judicial Reason for the Cause of Hang, Drawn and Quartering in Medieval England.”

On her topic: “It’s about how Hang, Drawn and Quartering arose out as the accepted execution ritual for punishing traitors in medieval England.”

On how she came across the topic: “Well, I originally wanted to write about the Black Death because I thought it was really cool, and then I started reading a lot about depressing things and somehow got to execution. And then I shifted away from the Black Death and wrote a lot about execution.”

“Have you ever found yourself in too much of a dark spot?” “I actually realized that I would never really work on my thesis unless I was morbidly interested in it, like watching a car accident all year. It’s really not as gruesome as it sounds – a lot of the descriptions were pretty medical. They were lacking in drama, to say the least.”

Plans for Tuesday? “It’s her [points to Anna Cash ’11] birthday, so we’re going to have a birthday/rebirthing party. And I’m going to take all these books and put them in a wheelbarrow and get rid of them so I don’t ever have to see them ever again.”

Summer movie blockbuster thesis title? “Have You Seen the Intestines of the Guy Next Door?”

Kaitlin Martin ’11, GOVT, Fourth Floor of Olin

Thesis Title: “The Politics of Protest: Rethinking Nationalism in Post-Soviet Russia”

On her topic: “It’s about a series of protests that occurred last year throughout Russia; I’m writing about these two rather isolated regions and how the protest movements evolved and how the rhetoric that was used in the protests displays civic nationalism.

Which two regions? “Kalingrad, which is actually physically separated from Russia, and Irkutsk, which is in Eastern Siberia where I studied abroad.”

Were you studying abroad there when the protests happened? “Yeah, I was there when both of the protests happened and I actually interned for an environmental organization that took part in the protests.”

On the Writing Process: “I’ve spent a whole lot more time thinking and stressing about my thesis than actually working on it, so that’s kind of been the process. Like, long periods of complete avoidance and then periods of panic and working like crazy.”

How has Peter Rutland [her advisor] been? “He provides two very necessary aspects of the thesis advising: first of all he sends me really great articles that I should read – some of them are relevant, some of them aren’t – but the best part is that he also sends me Youtube videos of like, the Russian army performing pop songs. It’s something really necessary for writing a thesis – a lot of study breaks.”

Plans for Tuesday? “Probably trying to turn it in before the last minute. And then, Olin steps, champagne, and then who knows what? And then possible existential crisis because I no longer have a purpose in life when my thesis is over.”

Existential crisis? “It just takes over your life – you wake up every morning thinking about your thesis, you go to bed every night thinking about your thesis. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when my thesis is no longer part of my identity. I was telling one of my friends from home about my thesis, and he said that whenever I was talking about the ‘impending due date’ it sounded like I was talking about an impending divorce.”

Ally Kotowski ’11, GOVT, 3rd Floor of Olin

Thesis Title: “Imagining the Romani Nation: Connection, Conflict & the New Construction of Roma Identity”

On her topic: “So the Roma are Europe’s single largest minority group – there are between 12 and 15 million Roma in the EU, so that makes their population about the size of a mid-sized European state, like Sweden and Portugal. Throughout Europe the Roma have been excluded and discriminated against for centuries, and one of the interesting things about the Roma is that they are really scattered to a point where they live in every single European country. They have never been united beneath a common political entity, so basically what I’m talking about is how Roma elites want to create the idea of a Roma stateless nation – a nation without a state but with representation. I’m also talking about the construction of the Roma nation and how the internet and the threat from the extreme right have pushed the Roma together and identify as a single group.”

“That’s an extremely robust description.” “[laughs] It’s funny because when you’re asked to explain it you can give the one sentence answer, or like a 30-minute conversation.”

On the Writing Process: “It’s been a bit difficult – I generally have way too much information and figuring out what’s important is hard. Of course, at this point I think everything’s important and fascinating, because you know Roma and Bulgaria use these ceremonial baskets, etc. etc….. [laughs]”

Plans for Tuesday? “I have some pink champagne. It’s not Andre, it comes in a really pretty bottle. I forgot what it’s called, but I picked it for its aesthetic qualities. I don’t know… I’ll hang out with my friends, see them for the first time, do nothing.”

Yuhhhhh. Goood luck! Also, if you’d like to be featured, drop us an email staff(at)wesleying(dot)org. We’ll try to find you. Tentative, of course, to whether you’re there when we come a knockin’.

7 thoughts on “THESISCRAZY 2: The Return of the Electric-Jedi-Boogaloo-The Two Towers

  1. Pingback: THESISCRAZY OUT: The Last Hurrah – Wesleying

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Michael Roth! – Wesleying

  3. frostedmoosefanB==D

    Sometimes, frostedmoose, you make me smile! Then again, so did Kipling:

    “Have you news of my boy Jack?”
    Not this tide.
    “When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Has any one else had word of him?”
    Not this tide.
    For what is sunk will hardly swim,
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
    None this tide,
    Nor any tide,
    Except he did not shame his kind —
    Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

    Then hold your head up all the more,
    This tide,
    And every tide;
    Because he was the son you bore,
    And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

    1. Anonymous

      Well, a couple of reasons.

      1. Limited amount of time.
      2. Excessive amount of homework.
      3. Limited amount of labor.
      4. Limited amount of wages.
      5. Excessive amounts of I just don’t care enough.

      There’re more installments coming. Maybe. There may be sciences in there. Maybe. I’ll go write my paper now. Maybe.

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