THESISCRAZY: It Begins

Universal plans for April 12? “To give zero fucks about anything.”

It’s that time of year when seniors begin to pull their hair out (literally), sleep under their desks, and string together crazy amounts of run-on sentences that make English teachers everywhere shudder.

Welcome to THESISCRAZY, the feature where we, the fearless writers of Wesleying, maneuver our way into the corners of campus where thesis writers work live and hit them with rapid-fire questions about their theses.

Read after the jump to see the first installment.

Taran Catania ’13, GOV, carrel #260

Working title: “(K)not On Our Watch: The Politics of Saving Migratory Shorebirds in Delaware Bay”

On her topic: “I’m looking at how we’re going to stop shorebirds from going extinct, which they are. I’m really looking at the public regulatory structure, which I argue is basically failing. And I look at these ad hoc coalitions formed between state wildlife agencies and nonprofit organizations in lieu of a working public structure.”

On her most traumatic experience thus far: “I went down for a shorebird meeting in New Jersey. We were walking the beaches to see what Hurricane Sandy had done damage-wise. I didn’t know anyone’s name and I had to take notes while everyone was yelling at each other.”

On her social life: “Spring Break was really helpful because no one was here. And I intend to keep that lifestyle until April 12. Instinctively I feel pretty ok. But I find myself really loathing anyone who tells me they’re done.”

Pans for April 12: “I already have a bottle-of-champagne buddy and I fully intend to not the write the essay that is due the following Tuesday until a few hours before.”

 P1100085Diego Calderon ’13, CS/Bio, carrel #404

Working title: “Systemic Testing of Improved Bacteria Speciation Algorithms”

On his topic: “So you don’t trade genetic information with a houseplant, right? But bacteria can be equivalently distant species. So this program that I’m working with tries to decide how we should approach bacteria speciation.”

On how he arrived at this topic: “As a freshman, I just asked if I could join a lab—and I just started doing all the bitch work. And I worked my way up.”

On his progress: “Actually really chill! I started writing, like, a week ago. Cuz it’s more programming. I’ve been doing a lot of programming for the past year or so. The writing stuff is all the background. Right now I’m just letting the program run.”

On whether or not his thesis is being submitted to the Biology department: “I dunno. I don’t worry about those things too much. I know it’s in the CS department and I’m working on it and I feel like there’s a lot of Bio in it. So I’m feeling sort of anxious about that. But I’m pretty sure it’s just a CS thesis.”

Plans for April 12: “I kind of wanted to set up a trip to Vegas that weekend. But I dunno if that’s going to go through. If that doesn’t work out, I’m just probably going to get drunk.”

On whether or not he feels guilty for being so chill while everyone around him is freaking out: “How can I feel guilty about that?”

Ague Ortega ’13, SOC/LAST, carrel #404

Working title: “(Un)comfortable Intersections: A Queer and Post-Colonial Dialogue Towards a Queerness of the South”

On her subject: “I’m looking at the LGBT movement in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, to see to what extent they’re peripheral or central in locations and how much we can explain the development of LGBT movements through queer theory or postcolonial theory.”

On how many times she uses the word ‘theory’ in her thesis: “I don’t know, but I can tell you I use ‘queer’ every other word. It’s so bad.

On her progress: “It’s intense. I’m a little hyper. I had two red bulls today. It’s really hard to wrap it up. It’s really hard to realize it’s not gonna be everything I wanted I wanted it to be. You just lower your expectations and think, ‘Ok, this doesn’t represent me. It’s just a long essay.'”

On sharing a carrel: “It’s great because I need the disciplinary power of someone next to me. It’s not that great when he watches movies and I work.”

On her most traumatic experience thus far: “I think it was yesterday—I met with my advisor and she circled a lot of words in my third chapter because they don’t exist in English and it was so embarrassing.

On her carrel decorations: “The Gaybrary—I can’t take credit for this. This was my housemate, Melanie Ferdinand ’13, one night when I was asleep.”

The last sentence she wrote: “In other words, in addition to demystifying the desire to be normalized behind reformist projects, the idea of a normative, progressive, linear temporality should not be automatically assigned to legal reform projects in these sites.” [pause] “This is so embarrassing, oh God.”

Emma Caccamo ’13, HIST, carrel #308

Working title: “Foreignness at Home: The Treatment of German, Italian, and Japanese Immigrants During World War II”

On her topic: “The premise of the project is that while Japanese internment is really well known, what most people don’t know is there was also selective internment of Germans and Italians as well. The main body of my project is looking at the Enemy Alien Control Unit, which was a unit of the department of justice that they developed in order to be able to monitor and apprehend immigrants who weren’t being relocated. The idea of foreignness is a new framework.”

On her mental state: “I’d say definitely less panicked than a few days ago, but definitely feeling the pressure as well. [Sleeping habits] depend on how close it is to my tutorial meetings or not.”

On her most traumatic experience: “I think my most traumatic experience was sending my advisor my first draft. Because I was so unhappy with it. And it got to the point where it was my deadline and I had enough to send it to her. I also knew there was so much I wanted to change if I had more time. I just needed to send it off and step away from it for a couple of days.”

On her carrel decorations: “Post-its are a combination of practical things I want to remember to do. Some of them are quotes that are really sort of critical to my argument or to my project, and then some of them are just quotes that are more inspirational motivation. These are pictures of all the places I went when I was abroad last year.”

Plans for April 12: “Drinking champagne at 4:00 o’clock with everyone. And hopefully turning it in on time to actually get down to the liquor store.”

S. Lamming ’13, AMST, carrel #448

Working title: “Queer Horizons: An/Other World Without Walls”

On their topic: “I’m writing about the prison industrial complex in the U.S. and specific abolitionist responses and alternative practices of justice that have emerged in the past 15 years. And then I am specifically focusing on queer and trans abolitionist groups and queer-inflected critiques of incarceration and policing.”

On how they arrived at the topic: “Too many to list briefly—but reading Dean Spade’s work throughout college has been extremely formative for how I think about things and how I conceive of justice.”

On their progress: “I’m a little stressed out and I feel like I should have worked harder last semester, but I’m in the process of editing my chapters and filling in information that I didn’t fill in before. The more I read it, the more bad I think it is and the more I realize that I don’t know.”

On their most traumatic experience: “Reading over things that I’ve written and realizing that they’re hella sketch and basically the arts-and-crafts of scholarship and knowing that someone will have to read them and tell me that I could have formulated my opinions in ways that make more sense. And also having nightmares about all the stuff I have to do. And knowing that my final product won’t be as perfect as I want it to be.”

On their favorite mode of procrastination: “I’ve been on YouTube—they have these videos of all these Pokémon gym battles and I’ve watched like four hours of gym battles in the past two and a half weeks. Also, smoking cigarettes.”

Plans for April 12: “To give zero fucks about anything.”

Codi Leitner ’13, SISP, carrel #312IMG_2146

Working title: “No tentative name yet.” [laughs] “I think I’m leaving that for last until I’ve really figured out what it’s all about, I guess.”

On her topic: “I’m talking about how changes in cartographic technology and the way that we physically view our wetlands and coastal wetland landscapes has changed the way that we’ve interacted with these landscapes over the course of the last four centuries or so. It’s been fun to write about. I’ve gone through the evolution from illustrative maps to photography to aerial photography to satellites and beyond.”

On her name for her carrel: “I call it ‘The Carrel with a View’ because I have a window [that looks] straight into a giant office. It’s, like, a window into a window, it’s really weird.”

On why she never sits in the window to do work: “I’ve done that before, except there’s always someone over there in the office, and they can see me!”

On her progress: “I’m mostly just editing. I have everything written except for my conclusion. I have five chapters, roughly 110 pages right now. But yeah, I just have to edit the living shit out of it and do my image appendices. I’m scared shitless. I came back early over spring break, because I didn’t want to be one of those people who like, didn’t sleep. I mean, I’ve already abandoned my eating habits and gym habits, so I needed to retain some sleep!”

On her current mental state: “Well, I had the stomach flu for the last two days, so I took those last two days off and now I’m getting back to work, so I would say I’m both excited and terrified that I might look back at my thesis and hate it suddenly. Also, I’m very much ready to just be rid of it.”

Most traumatic thesis experience: “I think just every night this past week, honestly. I’ve been like calling my mom and calling friends and I’ll wake up in the morning and it’ll feel like a bright new day and I’m so excited, and then by nighttime, I’m quite literally about to pull my hair out, and I just find myself suddenly disliking everything I’ve done. This is also kind of gross, but this past week I was trying to format my bibliography in between bouts of puking from the stomach flu.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Start early. Find your thesis advisor during spring of your junior year. And do not think you have all the time in the world, because you don’t.”

Want to be interviewed for THESISCRAZY and tell us about all the horribly traumatic/awesome things that have happened during your time as a thesis writer? Shoot us an email at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.

Interviews and photos by hermes and ZachFor previous  years’ installments of THESISCRAZY, click here. Remember to use the #THESISWHY hashtag when tweeting about your thesis. Get it trending.

6 thoughts on “THESISCRAZY: It Begins

  1. Pingback: THESISCRAZY: The (Almost) Final Hour | Wesleying

  2. Pingback: THESISCRAZY PART 2: Olin $W@G | Wesleying

  3. anon

    thanks for doing all social studies and humanities people. Just ignore the sciences altogether.

    1. quit bitching

      Did you not see the second and last interviews? Anyway, they’re including anyone who asks; quit whining and email if you want to be interviewed.

    1. hermes

      Email us about where you’ll be/when you’ll be there, and we’ll most definitely stop by!

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