THESISCRAZY PART 3: The (Almost) Final Hour

“[My thesis would be] Order of the Phoenix, where they’re sort of chasing loose ends and everyone dies…”

Alas, another installment of THESISCRAZY is upon us. Enjoy the laughs, the tears, the forms of procrastination. Honestly, I think the thesis writers speak for themselves. Check out this year’s previous installments of THESISCRAZY here and here. For past years of “Don’t do it!”, check ’em out here. To follow along with the #thesiswhy hashtag, click here.

Reads more THESISCRAZY after the jump. If you’re writing a thesis and want to be interviewed, contact us before Friday at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org. Consider putting a lot of exclamation points in the title so we see it and know how stressed you are.

Em Kianka ’13, ENGL/RELI, carrel #337 IMG_2299

Working title: “Queer(y)ing Pentecostal Conversion and Lesbian Feminist Coming out Narratives: A Redescription of Religion and Sexuality”

On her thesis: “I am comparing lesbian feminist coming out stories from the ’70s and pentecostal conversion narratives, and I’m looking at what kinds of similar epistemological and narratalogical connections exist between those stories. By showing there are these really strong similarities between these stories, I’m trying to show that we need to start telling a different story about what relationship exists between religion and sexuality specifically in popular discourse, not really academia. Like, we need to stop thinking about religion and sexuality as a binary opposition.”

On her current mental state: “I’m not really all there most of the time. I started watching weird TV shows that I used to watch when I was eight in my carrel yesterday, like Sailor Moon. I don’t know where that came from. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos and also listen to a lot of reggaeton. I’m just doing things I don’t normally do.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “I had a dream that Jim from The Office stole my thesis conclusion on a zip drive and attended a black tie gala event with my thesis conclusion and I had to locate him in, like in a James Bond-esque style movie to try and get it back from him. It was really weird… so I woke up still thinking that it was gone, but in fact, it was a dream. It was pretty traumatic…”

On having a different paper due on April 11: “It is what it is… It’s actually okay. I felt stressed out about it and now I’m just kind of amused about it and now I’m just doing a weird social experiment of my own, and I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to papers, so I’m trying to at least use this as an opportunity to push myself and accept that I can’t spend as much time on this paper as I would normally do.” (And yes, she tried to ask the prof for an extension and ze said no.)

Plans for April 12: “Obviously, champagne in front of Olin. And then, one of my best friend who’s also a thesis writer is dancing at Terp at 7 p.m., and I’m going to just watch her drunkenly dance around, which I’m really excited about.”

Jocelyn Spencer ’13, EAST, carrel #025IMG_2269

Working title: “It’s probably gonna be ‘Common Roots: Memory, Myth, and Legend in Chinese and Latin American Literature.'”

On her thesis: “Basically my thesis is on this 1980s literary movement in China that was called ‘xungen,‘ which means ‘to seek roots,’ and it was this movement about ‘we need to look at our indigenous past, we can’t just do what the West is doing, we can’t do what we were doing during the Cultural Revolution because that’s just not really the roots of our identity.’ When I was reading these works, I noticed they had this kinship with magical realism, so I’m doing this huge comparison between magical realism works and xungen works and their commonalities and how they were influenced by these [Latin American] works.”

On her progress: “Right now I am revising Chapter 3. It’s been a looooot of work because there were a lot of things that used to work and now they don’t. I sent it to my parents because I figured they’d catch typos better than me, and they’ve just been all like, ‘Use more active voice!’ and I’m just like, ‘I’ll try, okay?! I just need word count.’ But yeah, I’m probably going to completely rework my conclusion but other than that, pretty much everything is at end stage, which is nice.”

If her thesis was a song: “I think I’d probably have to go with something off The Lord of the Rings soundtrack because it’s really complicated and really, really long.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “I haven’t had anything too traumatic, except that I was really dumb and decided that I should totally read this one Borges short story in the original language and I was just like, ‘I don’t know what this is… I don’t know what’s going on…'”

Favorite form of procrastination: “Tumblr and also dancing around my carrel. One of my friends, Dan Debonis ’12, made a playlist called ‘Mom’s Minivan’ which is just late ’90s/early ’00s light pop, and ‘I Want To Dance With Somebody’ came on earlier today and I just got up and started dancing around. I’m pretty sure people heard me and thought I was crazy, but whatever.”

Plans for April 12: “Champagne and then probably sleeping, which I don’t do right now.”

Cardner Clark ’13, ENGL, carrel #362IMG_2288

Working title: “I actually don’t have one.” [laughs] “I’ve been joking that it’s going to be ‘Harry Potter Fanfiction: What’s Up with That?’, but I really don’t think that’s gonna be the final title.

On her thesis: “It’s an introduction to Harry Potter fanfiction, but it’s also exploring what it is about Harry Potter in particular that’s made it so popular for fanfiction, which is manipulating or subverting source material.”

On her progress: “It’s okay. I still have a long way to go, but I’m not taking any other classes since I’m doing partial enrollment, so I’m optimistic about the amount of time I have left. I can’t imagine taking classes right now, I’d probably be dead. [Partial enrollment] is definitely the way to do it, I think, just because of the amount of work.”

On which Harry Potter book her thesis would be: “It might be Prisoner of Azkaban because in the end, you find out all this information that’s withheld. Or it’d be Order of the Phoenix, where they’re sort of chasing loose ends and everyone dies…”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “I was up until 4:30 A.M. last night. I don’t think there’s been anything super traumatic. I found some pretty appalling fan art, but that’s not too horrible.”

Favorite form of procrastination: “I went through a pretty intense online shopping phase a few weeks ago, but now I’m on Reddit, which is more time-consuming and less productive. Also, I discovered ‘Fedoras of OK Cupid,’ which is pretty much the best.”

Plans for April 12: “I’m collecting money from all my friends, and we’re gonna buy a giant case of Peach Andre and we’re gonna play Andre pong. It’s gonna be really great!”

Kat Lynch ’13, ENGL, carrel #359IMG_2257

Working title: “Uh, oh… I haven’t even thought about it yet. Presumably a quote, a colon, and then something pretentious, I don’t know!”

On her thesis: “It’s about the imagination in Wordsworth’s prelude and how different schools of criticism understand that but then at the same time, it’s bidirectional. So it’s about how looking at these schools of criticism though the lens of the imagination as a central comparison helps you understand the methodology and the interests of the different schools of criticism.”

On being thesis-ineligible but figuring out how to write one anyway: “There’s a research requirement in the English department you need to do a thesis [and I hadn’t done it,] so I was technically ineligible to write a thesis, so this professor I was working with at the time said, ‘If you write me a research paper, we can make it count [even though the class didn’t offer that research requirement component], so I was working on that, and my thesis stemmed from that paper.”

On her English concentration: “My concentration in English is Theory in Literary Forms; I’m basically a big nerd. I read books about books all the time. I haven’t read a primary source in so long!”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Right before my first thesis meeting I was talking to someone who was like, ‘Oh yeah, I wrote a chapter over the summer,’ and I was like, ‘Holy shit, I don’t even know what my topic’s going to be!’ So I go into my first thesis meeting all, ‘I can’t do this, is this okay?!’ And it ended up being fine, but that asshole stressed me out!”

Favorite form of procrastination: “Well, when you walked in here, I was on Instagram, so that’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t know, just Internet in general, except right now, the Internet is not working in my thesis carrel… It is both a curse and a blessing.”

Plans for April 12: “Getting very drunk, that’s it. That’s all I’ve thought of. I have friends coming to visit, because they’ve wanted to come, but I’ve just been like, ‘You cannot come, I am too busy,’ so they’re showing up the day I finish, so that’ll be fun.”

Ryan Sheldon ’13, ENGL, carrel #450

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Working title: “Ways in which the Ship Goes Down.”

On his topic: “My thesis is a collection of short fiction. It’s not about one thing, but prominent themes that arise in the writing are the physical body, medicine, football, and prescription drugs. Lots of prescription drugs.”

On how he arrived at the topic: “Originally, I intended to write a novel about football, performance art, and the Internet.  I spent the entirety of the fall semester working on that. Then, about halfway through winter break, I decided that I couldn’t give myself fully to that project and that I didn’t have the time, personal discipline, or patience to execute that vision as completely as I wanted.  So I chucked that 70-page draft and started over.”

On restarting from scratch: “Well, I more or less started from scratch.  I had been working on some stories as a diversionary project, so I had a collection of fragments that I had been messing around with.  When it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make the novel happen, I decided to develop those.”

On his progress: “At this point, I’m putting the final edits on some stories.  There’s one that’s pretty incomplete and rough, and I’m not sure that I’ll get it into workable shape by Friday.  So I’m focusing on four pieces.  The longest is 35 pages and the shortest is two.  That said, I could continue doing this work indefinitely; I’ll definitely keep tweaking these after I submit it just for my own sake.”

Plans for the scrapped novel: “I’m going to keep working on it. It’s going to be refreshing to switch gears again after this is over.  I’m really excited to get back to the novel.”

On his mental state: “I don’t know. I’m kind of engaged in a psychological war with this work. It makes me really mad and I’m also really tired, but that’s what this week is about: resignation.”

On his most traumatic experience: “Dropping the novel was pretty traumatic, especially because the other day I picked up the draft I had in the carrell and said to myself, ‘Man, I miss this now.  I wish I had done it.’ What has been most difficult to me are issues of artistic indecision and realizing that there are things that I can’t do because of commitments of time and effort.  Also, every time I edit the thesis, I’m like, ‘This sucks.'”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Don’t do it! But seriously, what everyone generally says is true: prepare well in advance, make sure you have a strong working relationship with your advisor before you begin the process, and acknowledge what you’re getting into.  It’s probably something you shouldn’t do unless you have a book in you—which I say from a creative writing perspective, but probably true in any discipline. You’ve got to really want to write a lot about a specific topic.”

Plans for April 12: “I’m going to obliterate myself on the steps of Olin with my [beers, or maybe peers].”

With your peers or beers? “Hopefully both. I’m not really one for champagne, so hopefully I’ll find a substitute.”

If your thesis were a movie: “Well, there are cinematic allusions in the thesis.  Dr. Strangelove is a good point of reference. You have to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.  The bomb is the thesis or the process of writing, or maybe your undergraduate career if you associate the thesis with your undergraduate years more broadly.”

Katie McConnell ’13, ANTH/ENVS, carrel #414

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Working title: “[Something Something] Modernity: Conservation and Extraction in Glacier Country.”

On her topic: “It’s an ethnographic thesis based on fieldwork I did this past summer in Northern Montana.  I was looking at a piece of land that was part of the Blackfeet reservation until 1895, when it was sold to the federal government.  When that piece of land became incorporated into a national park in 1910, all use rights for the Blackfeet tribe were extinguished.  I’m looking at how people today in the 21st century talk about that treaty and make claims to those treaty rights.  It’s also overall a critique of American conservation.”

On her conclusions about conservation: “That the American conservation model presupposes an ideal of uninhabited wilderness that is false, and also that it is intrinsically tied to extraction and capitalist development.”

On how she arrived at the topic: “I had visited Glacier National Park the summer before and learned about some of these issues, so I decided to go back. I also got to be outside a lot, which was awesome.”

On her progress: “I’m at the editing stage. I’m embedding images and cleaning up my bibliography; it’s a fair bit of work, but I’m almost there.”

On her mental state: “I’m kind of sleepy, but generally I’m doing well.”

On her most traumatic experience: “When I was doing fieldwork in Montana, I was living out of the back of a truck for a while.  One of my first nights out, it started raining really hard.  I had boxes of books with me and they started getting rained on through leaks in the bed of the truck.  They were all library books, and I was like ‘Fuck, I really don’t want to pay for these.’”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Pick a topic you like.  Wow, that’s a really boring response.”

Plans for April 12: “I think there’s a band playing a show at my house? I don’t actually know, but if there is, you should all come.”

If her thesis were a song: “‘It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ by Tame Impala.”


Interviews and photos from hermes and BZOD.