THESISCRAZY PART 5: We Swear This Is the Last One

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Okay. We get it. You’re tired of us showing you how THESISCRAZED everyone is. Want to see some happy motherfuckers? Come to the Olin steps today at 4pm.

P.S. Looking for a way to procrastinate your paper? Check out our other installments of 2013 THESISCRAZY here, here, here, and here. Also, ever wondered how many people are getting it on in their carrels? Now you are.

Read after the jump to see the last group of nuts thesis people (#thesiswhy).

Kyra Sutton ’13, COL/French, carrel #436

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Working title: “Islam’s Turn on the Couch: On the Psychoanalytic Theorizing of Muslim Identity in France”

On her topic: “It’s an examination of a series of recent texts published by French psychoanlysts who are trying to psychoanalyze Islam as a religion. My topic is a textual analysis that uses the French headscarf ban as its background. I’m also examining the fact that Freudianism is still viewed as a viable type of scholarship in France and how that affects understandings of Islam and secularism. So far, attempts to psychoanalyze Islam have been Orientalist (though I don’t think that attempting to psychoanalyze Islam must lead to Orientalism).

On how she arrived at the topic: “I took a lot of courses related to French identity and changing concepts of French identity, the arrival of Muslim immigrants, and so on. I was also really interested in Freud and had been interested in how pervasive Freud is there in a way he isn’t in the U.S.  I wondered if there was any connection between the obsession with Freud and how France thinks about religion. Then I read a text by the progressive thinker Kristeva about Freud in junior fall. I was surprised by the reductive claims that this otherwise very progressive thinker makes about Islam.”

On her progress: “I’m editing. I feel like I still have some restructuring to do.  I’ve had difficulty because I’ve assumed too much psychoanalytical knowledge in readers.  I think I need to break down Freudian and Lacanian terms and present some psychoanalytic background before dealing with the arguments themselves.”

On her mental state: “I’m numb at this particular moment, but that is going to change.  I’ve been oscillating.  I really don’t want to give it up. I’m going to be really sad to not be in control of this anymore; I’ve been obsessed with working and thinking on this, and I suspect I won’t stop thinking about it after Friday.  Not thinking about the fact that it’s the end.”

On her most traumatic experience: “Probably after I finished my 1st chapter and I realized that the thesis was going to be way longer than I ever expected. I also realized that I used the word ‘Freud’ 117 times in that chapter—280 times in the whole thesis. Then I started using words like “The Atheistic Jew,” or maybe “The Jewish Atheist” or “The Viennese psychoanalyst.”

Creative subsection titles: “Freud’s Legacies: The Musings of a Jewish Atheist on Religion”, “Hagar: The Muslim Moses”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Start thinking about it early, even if you don’t spend a huge amount of time writing early on. So long as you’re reading and thinking, you’ll be developing your ideas such that when you sit down to write, it won’t take you very long.  And definitely choose a topic that you love and you know will maintain your interest. I probably would have been thinking about this even if I hadn’t done it. I’m also unique since I probably only spent about week and a half writing, total.  Oh god, I sound like an asshole. Don’t put that part.”

Plans for April 12: “I’ll probably be simultaneously drinking and crying on the steps.  Probably champagne.”

Favorite sentence: “Yet this attempt to contain jouissance, to contain woman through a unique penetration of her, only serves to eliminate any control man has over the woman: for “in claiming to become the master of that loss [of hymen, of virginity], he ends up freeing the woman from preserving the hymen, making her accessible to others. He unveils an unveiling that eliminates any control over the object he aspires to contain absolutely.”

On the hair on the desk of her thesis carrel: “All this hair is Anwar’s” [referring to A-Batte]

Katie O’Donovan ’13, University Major (African Studies), carrell (NO)Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.13.00 AM

Working title: “Reaching Out and Seizing Thorns: Afrikaner Suffering, Christianity, and the Creation of Apartheid”

On her topic: “Basically, I am looking about how the Afrikaners theological interpretation of their own suffering affected the creation of apartheid. I’m basically saying that, because of how they rationalized all the oppression they felt they experienced, they started to become really insular and think they were really special. They took what they thought was special (their culture), they put it on an altar, and they not only worshipped it but also expected everyone else to do the same. Then they created a political system based on how special their culture was… and that was apartheid.”

On how she arrived at the topic: “I’ve always thought that apartheid and Christianity were interesting, and I was interested in seeing the effect that Christianity had on apartheid. I’ve also had a lot of talks with my dad, who is from South Africa and never grew up religious, and I wanted to know why that was.”

On her progress: “Pretty good. I’m finishing up my footnotes, going to write my table of contents, send it off to my professor with major final edits, footnotes, etc. by the end of tonight [Sunday, April 7]. Which is good, because I turn 22 in an hour and a half.”

On her mental state:  “Pretty good! I used to work hour and a half blocks; I had to motivate myself to work on my thesis by pretending I was going to class.  I’ve been working an average of 7 ½ hours a day for the past week, which is surprisingly good for my mental state.  Also, I’m done with school in like 5 days, so that’s been motivating me to do a lot of work.”

On partially enrolling:  “The best thing ever! I’d highly recommend it if you can. I don’t think I would have been able to write this thesis without it, and I don’t think I’d have been able to find a job without it. I very much recommend it.”

On her most traumatic experience:  “My most traumatic experience was changing my topic in late November.  I only kind of half-changed my topic since I got to keep the chapter I was already working on, but I changed completely the ultimate goal of the thesis.  What was originally going to be half a chapter became my whole thesis… so I had to rethink my point and throw out like half my research.”

Advice for future thesis writers:  “Try to get a better handle on what you’re actually writing about before late February, which was about where I was.  I wrote over half of my thesis in the last month and a half; I wrote 40 pages over spring break.  I’d also recommend getting an advisor you love as a person, and as a professor; you should know how they critique, and what you’ll get out of them.  I had three classes with my advisor so I knew how we were going to work and interact, which was nice.”

Plans for April 12: “I’m going to take all my books back to the library.  I have a big thing of Espalon tequila and I plan to take a shot for every trip I take from here to the library.”

Favorite sentence: “The mistake of the Afrikaners was not just that they were able to convince themselves to oppress in the name of liberation, but also that, while they were willing to allow other cultures and peoples to develop on their own, they denied those cultures their full dynamism, a culture’s ability to merge, split, radically change, or even fade.  They believed something was permanent when it never would be, and based their entire political system on it.

Her theme song: “’Who Needs Sleep’ by the Barenaked Ladies”

Natalia Powers-Riggers ’13, CHEM/EAST (chem thesis), carrel (NO! HA 42, Professor Northrop’s lab, which has windows) (also pictured above)

Working title: “Dynamic Self-Assembly of Discrete Covalent Organic Polygons”

On her topic: “Basically, it works on the idea of self-assembly, where you have one piece with two alcohol groups at a 120 degree angle from each other, and if you put a series of those and other pieces that have linking parts that are 180 from each other, they’ll self-assemble to form a gigantic hexagonal ring.  In the real world, these things are super porous materials that can hold fuel and gas, have a lot of different applications and they’re entirely insoluble, so this project is trying to find a soluble version of this.  Basically, it’s chemistry magic, because you put things together and you get really complicated repeating things through thermodynamics.”

On how she arrived at the topic: “I’ve been working on this topic for almost 2 years; I started summer of 2011 when I joined Professor Northrop’s lab, and this was a project he wanted me to work on.  It took me a year to figure out things beyond ‘I’m making things soluble!’  A lot of the project has been working on making one specific molecule and saying ‘Let’s try to make this. Oh, this doesn’t work? Okay, let’s try this…’  So on Friday, I set up my first self-assembling reaction, which is really nice because I feel like I’ve come full circle.”

On her progress: “Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating with theses since I have been doing regular lab work but haven’t been doing the intense thesis writing work until a few weeks ago.  At this point, I’ve done most of the writing and now I’m inserting diagrams, schemes, charts… things like that.  Right now, it’s 34 pages, and science theses tend to range from 40 to 60 on average since the idea of a chemistry thesis is, ‘You’ve been doing research for 2 years, now write it up.’ It’s less of an independent project you come up with yourself.”

On her mental state: “It’s okay.  Being in thesis mode has been kind of cool.  I’m taking 3 other EAST classes and I’m completing that major, so the last few weeks I’ve been ignoring everything and just working on my thesis… which is actually kind of exciting.  I’m still worried I won’t get everything done, since I feel like I don’t have enough page-length wise.  I only recently got to the point where I don’t laugh awkwardly and run away when people ask me how the thesis is going.”

On her most traumatic experience: “I don’t know how much trauma there’s been.  There’s been a lot of constant frustration.  Microsoft Word has not been my friend, nor has my computer.  My computer freezes every now and then, and sometimes EndNote just refuses to save my files.  So that’s been scary. Research wise, there’s been a lot of ‘Does the reaction work? No!’ moments.  In the early days, I was breaking a lot of glassware, but those days are behind me now.”

Advice for future (science) thesis writers: “If you’ve been doing research, you should do it since, if you’ve been consistently working in a lab, you’ve done most of the work already.  That said, it IS a lot of work, so don’t give yourself a ton of extra classes so you can focus on your thesis.  Also… try to have something written before spring break.  It’ll probably help.”

Plans for April 12: “I am going to be grading an organic chemistry lab all day! I am a TA and I missed the last exam since I was looking at grad schools so I don’t have an excuse to miss this one.  From 10 to 3, I will be grading tests.  And I should be free by 4 PM, and there will be alcohol and cake involved.  And then I go back to life with 3 EAST writing-intensive courses.  Also, grad school statements of interests are due on the 15th.  And taxes.”

Favorite sentence: “‘This project hopes to find a solution to this problem by creating discrete soluble analogues of covalent organic frameworks.’ Get it? Because I’m trying to find a solution to a problem, but I”m also try to find things that will dissolve, in solution? I’m so clever!”

Sasha Lamb ’13ANTH/ENGL, carrel #215 (don’t use it much; mostly in her room) (ALSO pictured above)

Working title: “Policing the Bromance (followed by a subtitle like “Platonic Male Friendships in Cops Shows from the 1960s to Today)”

On her topic: “The title really says it.  I’m looking at 6 different shows from 1950s and 1960s to the present and referring to a couple others as well that feature platonic male friendships that are strong and how they change based on cultural and social changes in the television industry, which have shifted a lot, and how that has affected what was portrayed on the screen.  Also masculinity theory and how different types of masculinity were received and how that worked its way into the TV shows.”

On how she arrived at the topic: “There was a kerfuffle last spring between fans of Sherlock and people excited about the show Elementary, and some Sherlock fans were upset about how the Sherlock and Watson relationship was changed to having a female Watson, so I was interested in why these male friendships are so important to people and why they are so culturally represented.  This isn’t exactly what my thesis ended up being about because my initial topic was too big, and my advisor funneled me toward cops shows.”

On her progress: “Mostly finished with major edits. I’m going to do some final edits and I also have to write my introduction and conclusion because I’m a failure and I have not accomplished those yet.”

On her mental state: “A lot more positive than it was before 5 PM because my deadline for my major edits was at 5 PM and my emotional state was a rollercoaster this weekend, but my advisor got back to me today [Sunday, April 7] and really liked it so I’m in a zen state right now, which is not representative of how I was during the entire thesis process.”

On her most traumatic experience: “It’s a cross between three: watching Dragnet [prototype of a lot of cop shows] was really boring; at one point I looked at one of my advisor’s comments and she said, ‘I think this represents more of an Oedipal theory and I said ‘no no no no NO NO NO’; and the third was this sentence I came across in a book: ‘His presumably prodigious but invisible medieval manhood,’ talking about Beowulf. This is what happens when you read really pretentious works about homosociality, masculinity, and manhood.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Get things done way earlier than you think you need to. Also, check with your advisor ahead of time and make sure you’re both clear on when your final edits should be submitted by.  That should probably prevent your having to rewrite your thesis over the course of three days. That has been this weekend, and it has been exciting.”

Plans for April 12: “Well… I have class on April 12, but other than that I plan to go to the Olin Steps and then go home and collapse. It’s going to be great.”

Piers Gelly ’13, COL, carrel (Art studio above the woodshop, Art Studio South)Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.13.18 AM

Title: “Those who do not repeat the past are doomed to forget it: paintings”

On how he ended up doing a painting thesis as a COL major:  “When I was in high school, I was considering going to art school instead of a liberal arts college.  I came to Wesleyan where I could have the best of both worlds, and I’ve been taking art classes and working with Tula Telfair since I was a freshman.  When I was a sophomore, she told me that she advises COL theses every now and then. Last spring, I realized that I was really interested in doing a painting thesis.   Tula was willing to have me as an advisee, and COL was down with it, so I did it.”

On how he arrived at the topic:  “Both last spring and over the summer I did research, which included the studying of historical recreation in France, Ireland, and England.  In the fall, I was talking with Tula about issues of history and tradition and the place of those things in contemporary art. The ideas I had related to historical recreation didn’t work as well in visual form as in writing.  I eventually arrived at the idea of painting a museum and thinking of how museums serve as a good example of the popular understanding of history.  The Met is an American example of that.  It is one of the biggest and best places nearby that deals with world history, and also art history in the form of a contemporary art museum.”

How did you make this count as a COL Thesis?  “Well, COL requires you to do a thesis, so they’re pretty lenient about how you can satisfy this requirement.  The catapult in the COL library was a COL thesis; their philosophy is that if you can find someone to advise your thesis, you can do it.”

On being done:  “Well, I’m not entirely done. I have to write a paper for the COL by April 12 explaining what I did and why.  I’ve already written a lot of that paper because I had to write a proposal for my thesis, and a lot of the things I set out to do then are things I still tried to do in the final project. I have a week to finish it, so I’m not too worried.  But yeah, it feels good.  I felt done when I finished setting up the lighting for my show . I was like “All right. This is my thesis.”  But it also feels weird because today I took my thesis down, which felt sad.”

On his most traumatic experience:  “I think knee trauma has been the most traumatic thing for me; I’ve spent so much time standing up, I think my knees are a bit weird now.  When you pull an all-nighter, around 3:00 AM you think, “I can’t do this… it’s really difficult,” your knees hurt, and you’ve run out of the Weshop nuts you’ve brought to keep you company.  I’ve listened to days upon days of Radiolab and This American Life and the speakers begin to soothe you with their voices.  Then the sun comes up and you have these huge windows and you can see your reflection, and then it gets fuzzy, and then the sun comes up and it becomes pink, and it becomes lighter and lighter and it’s totally glorious because you’ve usually accomplished what you intended to do.  I’d have this humbling experience where I’d see the sun coming up over the Connecticut River and making these crisp colors on the sides of the buildings and I’m amazed by how much color there is in the real world. And then I go to sleep.  Those all-nighters were traumatic when my knees hurt, but between Radiolab and the beauty of nature, it ended up not being that traumatic.”

Advice for future thesis folks:  “See if you can take fewer classes. It’s a luxury to have a lot of time to work on your thesis.  The more you work on it and come to care about it, the more you realize you need to spend a ton of time working on it.  It depends on where you set your sights, but I’m in a thesis tutorial and two classes and it’s more than enough work.  Also, try to be understanding of people who live with and care about you and are going to be concerned about your fanatical devotion to this nonhuman thing.  I think it’s easy to become insensitive when you’re working on something like your thesis.”

Advice for people trying to do theses nontraditional for their major:  “If it seems like the right thing to do, and you have someone who is willing to help you out and advise your thesis, do it.  I do miss the written word a little bit and there are some things that I’ve missed out on by not doing an academic thesis, but having a whole year to work on something like painting with an incredible advisor like Tula, who will push back at you and challenge your ideas, you learn a lot.  My painting has improved a huge amount and I have a portfolio of images that I can use for other stuff.  Even though my show only lasted a week and is now down, it was really incredible to be in the Zilkha gallery and have my stuff hanging up there.  The process is nontraditional and the experience is nontraditional, but the rewards are also nontraditional.  I had a good time.  I guess that’s the most I can say.  If anyone has questions, they can ask me I guess.”

Plans for April 12:  “Probably work on the Stethoscope books, which are going to come out really soon.  We have to start doing layout now.  At 4:00, I’ll probably celebrate with everyone. I’ll have a very slim stack of paper for my short COL essay that I’ll turn in, but being in that place where everyone is having their cathartic moment of thesis-ending, I’ll be able to combine some of the feelings from when I finished my exhibition with my feelings from when I finish my essay, and I’ll have a synthetic but no less authentic thesis-ending experience.”

Sam Barth ’13, FILM, carrel Fauver Apt. 307EScreen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.13.35 AM

Title: “DIAL-UP” (film thesis)

On his topic: “It’s a 90’s coming of age movie about meeting girls on the Internet.”

On how he arrived at the topic: “Well, I always wanted to make a film because I’m most interested in production.  This came about in a really roundabout way because my original idea was a Western about the early days of the Internet with Hackers plus Once Upon a Time in the West, but then that was just completely impossible to do with my budget.  But I wanted to do something about the Internet and the 90s.”

On his progress: “The movie itself is done; I had a 16-hour meeting with the sound mixer on Friday [April 5].  Right now I’m fine-tuning a couple of things, like I’m doing the credits right now and I’m color correcting it.”

On the process of making the film: “I started working on the script at the end of the summer and it was really terrible, so I spent the first month of the school year just getting the script to a place where it didn’t suck. I was also doing a lot of pre-production stuff.  So in the first couple months of the school year, my producers and I set up auditions, did location scouting, and found props.  We shot for two weekends in the beginning of November.  It was four 10-hour day shoots, which wasn’t that bad.  I forgot about it for a month, and over winter break I started editing it and I’ve been tweaking it pretty much since the end of January.  I got my first cut of it down around mid-February, and I’ve been doing fine-tuning and editing, getting rhythms, beats, pacing, etc. since then.”

How many people did you work with and how much was done yourself?  “Counting crew and people who helped me out, probably 15-20 people, and a lot of that was for the actual production itself; lights, camera stuff, set design.  First semester was a lot more collaborative since I was working with set people, producers, and the crew.  This semester has been a lot more hermit-like with me editing in my room and sometimes showing it to people who I trust won’t laugh at me.”

How was the experience of working collaboratively?  “I had a really great crew and it was all people I knew and trusted, so I guess part of it was luck and part of it was that I trusted the people I worked with.”

How long was the footage you had to pare down?  “Probably in total, like 3 hours of footage since a lot of it is coverage, downtime when the camera is rolling since it’s not film and you can be a little bit looser about it.  That was the first part of winter break: going through it and trying to figure out what I wanted to use.  Now it’s 10 ½ minutes long.”

On his mental state: “Feelin’ good, man!  I was up super late last night [Tuesday, April 9], but it was actually writing a paper for another class, so I’m already moving on.  I still have four film classes I need to pass so I can graduate, so I’m trying to pick up the slack on those.”

On his most traumatic experience: “There was a lot of stress stuff going on last semester – like, juggling all these things at once – but the most traumatic thing was I opened a can of coke near my computer in February and it sprayed everywhere and fried my computer.  So for a week, my computer was out of commission and sitting in rice.  But, it’s now back to normal mostly and I’ve been able to finish editing on it.  It’s a little sticky with the keys.”

Advice for future film thesis folks:  “If you’re an underclassman, work on a bunch of theses.  Get on sets and see how those work.  Good advice would be that, if you want to make a film thesis, start shooting now, since you have to make a lot of shitty stuff before you get something good.  Like, I’ve been making films since high school and, except this one, they’re all shit.  You have to keep making videos until you make something you can actually be proud of.”

Plans for April 12: “I actually have film class until 4:30 on Friday, so I haven’t decided yet.  I’m going to be watching a Yugoslavian film that will be hard to find somewhere else, so I have to decide if I’m going to leave class early or just start drinking in class.  Either would probably be acceptable.”

Rosa Hayes ’13, ECON, carrel QACScreen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.13.27 AM

Working title: “My advisor suggested ‘Two Essays on Macroeconomics,’ which is probably the vaguest title ever.  Not sure if I’m going to change it though, because I’m feeling lazy.  Could call it ‘A Yield Spread,’ which would be a little more vague, so maybe I’ll do that.”

On her topic: “I have two. One of them is about predicting future economic growth based on the yield spread, which is the difference between long and short term government bonds, and that works pretty well in some countries.  And the other part is about crisis resolution in the Eurozone during the 2008 banking crisis, and I’m looking at the impact of different response policies and how repeated accommodations and levels of indebtedness affect market perceptions of recovery.”

On her progress: “I have to write two more sentences on my conclusion and make a PDF… and maybe send my abstract to my advisor to make sure it’s not terrible.  He’s really picky about the abstract.  I don’t know why.”

On her mental state: “Feeling pretty good. Relieved! I was tired earlier, but I’m less tired now.”

On her most traumatic experience: “Probably coming back from spring break and deleting over half of what I had written over spring break.  It wasn’t that traumatic though, I only wrote like 20 pages over spring break.  I guess trying to run regressions on the server is pretty traumatic because it’s pretty slow.  When I was on vacation, it took a whole day to run my .do file… I only had 8 regressions.”

On thesis-related dreams: “I’ve dreamed a lot about my thesis, including having it read by a panel of English professors who probably misunderstand what the yield spread is… and missing the deadline… and getting locked in my carrel after one time when I locked my key in the carrel.”

Mode of procrastination: “I like watching a live cam of baby polar bears, and I like using the internet to try to find places to buy puppies. I really want a puppy.”

On working in the QAC: “It’s awesome, because I get to hang out with Brendan. And Eric Stephen ’13 brought me a flower.  And we have huge windows that open.”

On partially enrolling: “It’s pretty fun.  I don’t know what I would do if I had class. I don’t know what I would do if I still had sports.  Going on a week and a half vacation next week as a belated form of spring break, since my parents were offended that I didn’t want to come home, but they didn’t really get it.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Have a good advisor. Partially enroll.  Don’t write two different papers.”

Plans for April 12: “Drinking champagne! And going to bed first I guess, since it’s already April 12.”

Interviews and pictures by BZOD, who would like to thank wieb$ and hermes for formatting the post while he finished his econ paper…!

2 thoughts on “THESISCRAZY PART 5: We Swear This Is the Last One

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