THESISCRAZY, PART TWO: Trollin’ in Olin

“You’ll spend, like, three hours editing something and you won’t have gotten anywhere because it just keeps going and going and I don’t even know how I wrote all of this crap.”

It’s Sunday, April 8. Do you know where your senior thesis is?

With four days to go (4 pm on Thursday—mark the date), thesis-writers are hunkering down in Olin for the final homestretch, eyes bloodshot, caffeine (or Kombucha, as the case may be) at the ready. Once again, A-Batte and I crept through the storied halls of Olin’s cramped, foul-smelling thesis carrels, harassing writers at will to document their last week at work. “I don’t really care what happens,” one writer gravely told me, “because once this is over, nothing’s gonna matter anymore.” And doesn’t that say it all?

Good luck, guys. We’re with you in spirit. There will be another edition of THESISCRAZY between now and Thursday—hopefully featuring some science kids this time around—so hit us up at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org if you want to be profiled. Click past the jump for full interviews, and click here for past coverage.

Ally Wang ’12, HIST/SISP, carrel #360

Working title: “I have one, but I forget.”

On her topic: “It’s about the history of diabetes research in the twentieth century, looking at how diabetes in African-Americans has been a significant health concern.”

How she arrived at the topic: “My grandfather had diabetes so I’ve always been really interested. I just threw the advice to some faculty in the HIST department, and they advised me to narrow my topic down.”

On her most traumatic experience: “Well,  I got locked out the other day holding a box of cereal and my blanket and I realized my keys and computer and cell phone were all locked in my carrel and I was standing outside the door with cereal and a blanket. So I had to call P-Safe.”

On her plans for April 12: “Bottle of champagne, then Terp. I’m in Terp. Thankfully, the performance isn’t till Friday.”

Charlotte Christopher ’12, PSYCH, carrel #358

Working title: “We The Papers: Journalists, Newspapers, and the Mixed-Up Media Identities of Digital Journalism’s First Generation”

On her topic: “I’m looking at the shifting notions of identity and authority and journalism and how the internet has basically broken up the community in journalism.”

On how she arrived at her topic: “I’m focusing on the Hartford Courant because I did an internship there over the summer and what actually prompted me to start my thesis was when I sat down in a meeting with the interns and the social media and internet people. And they suggested that we write stories by using a tweet-aggregating mechanism and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s the most terrifying thing that I’ve ever heard.’”

On her most traumatic experience: “A huge portion of my thesis was interviewing people, so I had to go back and listen to hours of my embarrassing myself in front of really eloquent and well-spoken journalists. Also, realizing that I had to break up my 74-page chapter. Trying to put a linear structure on the internet is a horrible process.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Don’t write about something that’s happening right this moment. Go back at least 200 years so you’re positive things are not continuing to happen as you’re writing your thesis.”

Plans for April 12: “I told my friend Nick Petrie ’12 that since he came to my thesis carrel after I’d left for Spring Break and threw away the guacamole that I accidentally left in here, that I would throw a giant party for him on the steps of Olin.”

BJ Lillis ’12, HIST, carrel #205

On his topic: “It’s about Native American slaves and servants in colonial New England focusing after King Philip’s War.”

On his progress: “I’m exhausted, but I’m done writing. I just have to edit my ass off. I went to bed at 6:30 AM this morning—but I woke up at 1:30 this afternoon, so that’s almost a night of sleep. And I’ve been living at Usdan. Like, I eat there everyday. I feel like a freshman.”

On his most traumatic experience: “Waking up in the middle of the night, trying to fix problems in something, like, 40 pages long. You have a 40-page chapter and something’s wrong with it and it’s just so much bigger scale than anything I’ve done before. And if you change something you have to think about how it’s affecting the rest of the thesis. And it’s kind of terrifying. You’ll spend three hours editing something and you won’t have gotten anywhere because it just keeps going and going and I don’t even know how I wrote all of this crap.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Everyone says, like, start early, but that’s not helpful at all. Better advice would be to work really hard in the middle. Also, you have to like it. I literally wake up in the middle of the night—well, I don’t sleep in the night anymore—but you wake up and you’ll just sit there thinking about your topic. If you don’t like it, it’s not worth it. And I love my topic. I could keep thinking about this forever.”

Plans for April 12: “I don’t really care what happens because once this is over, nothing’s gonna matter anymore. I could take a nap maybe?”

Aaron Forbath ’12, HIST, carrel #215

Working title: We Would Sit and Build Castles in the Air: Great Plains Settlers, American Visions of Personal Redemption, and the Ascendancy of Capitalism in the West”

On his topic: “I’m looking at the motivating beliefs of three settlers who lived in Nebraska at the turn of the 19th century. And considering the overlap between Republican agrarian and capitalist ethics.”

On how he arrived at his topic: “I was originally interested in the mythology of the American West. And the kind ofpopular vision of the West as this place of self-determination and independence. So I became interested in the kinds of contradictions and paradoxes between that vision and the history of capitalism in the west. When I was doing archival work I got drawn into the stories of thesesettlers’ lives and the ways these contradictions played themselves out.”

On keeping it in perspective: “It’s really easy to waste a lot of energy worrying about one’s thesis. A professor told me, ‘Your thesis doesn’t need you to worry about it. It just needs you to do something.’ Actually, my mom. She’s a history professor at the University of Texas. I’m just trying to keep everything in perspective. That this is the last semester of my senior year. And I’m in this great place and around all these people that I really like. And soon this is going to be over.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Figure out the logistics of your thesis as early as possible. Whether you’re gonna use a citations software—I would recommend not using Endnote—how you’re gonna organize your notes and your documents. How you’re gonna back things up. It’s easy to let that stuff slip.”

If his thesis were a song title: “I’d probably go with ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town.’”

Carrie Cohen ’12, FILM, carrel #218

Working title: “It’s called ‘Squanderland.’ It’s a screenplay.

On the screenplay: “It’s about a writer who discovers a world where fictional characters go when they’re not being written about anymore. It was awesome a couple of drafts ago. Now it’s just a headache.”

On her inspiration: “It was actually inspired by a This American Life story. This little fictional piece they had there about where lies go. Like, if you make up ‘oh, my grandma’s sick, I have to go visit her’ and then the grandma ends up in some sick place.”

On future plans: “I have plans to copyright it. I like it right now. But we’ll see how I feel about it in a couple of months. Maybe try to sell it to somebody? That’d be cool.”

On how a screenplay compares to other theses: “The nice thing about a screenplay is, I’m working on my third draft right now. And a lot of my friends doing traditional theses are finishing their first draft. So it’s nice to be in the stages of making it better right now. Now it’s one word better than it was thirty seconds ago!”

Plans for April 12: “I have an improv show that night. My group Desperate Measures has a show. But I’m probably not gonna be performing sober. I have class that day, which is kinda annoying.”

Annika Butler-Wall ’12, AMST, carrel #405

Working title: “Authentic Motherhood: Feminine Self-Sacrifice and the Erasure of Pleasure from ‘True’ Womanhood”

On her topic: “I’m basically looking at cultural media representations of motherhood in ‘Sixteen and Pregnant,’ depictions of octo-mom, looking at constructions of womanhood and motherhood and doing a feminist critique of liberalism.”

On the process: “I’m surviving. Eating. Sleeping. Some of both. I’ve had a couple of dinners in the library recently—Weshop, microwavable.”

On her most traumatic experience: “Realizing I didn’t do anything over winter break. Zero.  I got Davenport Grant last year, did a ton of work, and none of the work is going to be in this thesis. I went to San Fransisco and Milwaukee and did work in archives and decided that archival work is boring and pop culture is much more interesting.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Advice: pick a topic early. Because it’s gonna change a lot. Also, get out as many books as you can, because you can use the thesis stamp and just amass a collection of random things.”

Email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org if you are writing a thesis and want to be humiliated on this blog.