THESISCRAZY 2014 (PART 3): “Wait, Does 4th Floor Olin Exist?”

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Welcome to the third installment of THESISCRAZY 2014, the feature where we interview thesis writers in the midst of their last minute panic (of course it’s a good idea). To see our first two THESISCRAZY features for this year, click here and here. To see previous years of THESISCRAZINESS, click here.

If you’re interested in doing a THESISCRAZY interview, email staff(at)wesleying(dot)org!

Juliana McLain ’14, SOC/ECON, carrel #424Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.18.28 AM

Working title: “I don’t have one at all! It’s my biggest stress right now…”

On her topic: “I’m basically critiquing rational choice theory within economics and I’m developing a new way to conceptualize it that takes the social context of rational actors into account.”

On her progress: “So I’m currently editing a my last chapter, and once I do that, I have to write my conclusion still. But I’m really behind on my citations, so I’m just going to try and finish up everything.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Oh god…Let’s see…probably when I came back to school in September. I’d submitted a thesis proposal last May, and when I came back this fall, my advisor was like, ‘I need a forty-page lit review by the third week of September’ and I hadn’t done anything. It ended up being fine and I didn’t finish it, but it was kind of that moment of, ‘Wait…we’re going straight into this?!” And then also coming back from spring break [was pretty traumatic] because I decided to go on vacation, and I came back and I was like, ‘Fuck, I don’t know why I did that…’

On the last sentence she wrote in her thesis: “Oh gosh. ‘…That rationality requires interpretation by those applying it economically makes any economic claims by rational choice theory normative.'”

Advice for future thesis writers: “I’m not gonna say, ‘Start early’ or anything like that because you’re not going to, so I’d say take it one step at a time. It’s very doable if you take it slowly, but don’t expect it to be a longer version of a ‘normal’ paper. I expected it to be, like, four papers in one, but it’s a lot more than that. Like, it takes a lot more thinking and reading and just more work.”

Plans for April 11: “Trying to stay standing between the drinking and lack of sleep. Also, getting back into social interaction is going to be interesting because I haven’t been talking to anyone.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.18.35 AMAlec Harris ’14, ENGL, carrel #431

Working title: “‘Coinage’. It’s short and to the point.”

On his topic: “I’m writing a collection of poems about economics, business, finances, and the job acquisition process. Yeah, I’ve been told it’s different. [laughs] I wrote a poem during junior year about similar topics, and it was in a very particular voice. And I thought, ‘Hey, let’s try to run with this.'”

On his progress: “I’ve pretty much finished the poems part, but I need to edit some more and then I need to write an introduction. That’s what’s getting me right now, since I haven’t written any creative nonfiction before, so this is my foray into that.”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “Well, my thesis advisor is currently out on leave, and that happened very recently, so I’m flying relatively solo. Kayla Stoler ’14, whom I share the carrel with, has helped me immensely, so she’s been kind of my advisor. I mean, it’s probably more traumatic for her [laughs], but it’s kind of hard not to have an advisor near the end.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Don’t be cavalier about taking up a project like this. You need to know that you will eventually get sick of it, and you’ll need to persevere through that.”

On the last line of poetry he wrote: “It’s not really all that spectacular: ‘Maybe today is the new leaf.’ It’s a poem about Las Vegas since I went for my birthday, so that was easy fuel for this. [laughs]”

Plans for April 11: “Champagne and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while. And maybe make my way to the film series but I doubt that’s gonna happen…”

Alyssa Bonneau ’14, GOVT, carrel #434Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.18.42 AM

Working title: “I haven’t thought of one yet…It’s probably going to be really boring…”

On her topic: “I’m doing a comparative study of prisoners’ rights to vote in similar countries.”

On how she chose her topic: “My advisor suggested it, actually. I was interested in looking at disenfranchisement issues and voter suppression, and I was interested in seeing if that was a problem anywhere else. My advisor had just read an article about prisoners in the UK and he suggested that. I thought about a lot of different [possible topics] and decided on this one. It kind of just, like, happened at me. [laughs]”

On her progress: “I’m reorganizing a chapter and have to write a conclusion. It’s not bad, but it’s just enough so that I don’t want to do it…”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “I actually haven’t had a really bad moment yet. I’ve been kind of lucky, but it’s probably because I’ve spent every break here–fall break, came back early during winter break, spent spring break here–so I haven’t had moments of crazy, but it’s just been this very prolonged slog.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “It’s all about choosing the right topic. That sounds dumb, but it’s actually really important. I know a lot of people who tried to pick something that’s huge, and they felt like they had to delve through all of this literature and it’s a nightmare. I was fortunate in that I chose a topic that specific enough so that I read most of what’s out there, but there’s also things written to where it’s not this obscure thing where I can’t find anything on it.”

Plans for April 11: “Well, the champagne thing obviously. Also, I’m in Terp for the first time, which was already kind of shit show, so I’m trying to strategize how I’m going to be functional by 10pm. But it’ll happen…eventually…[laughs]”

Olivia Alperstein ’14, CCIV, carrel #403Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.18.50 AM

Working title: “It’s just ‘Working Title’ at the moment… [laughs]”

On her topic: “So my topic is the politics of memory and the process of erasure of memory that took place during and after the reign of the emperor Domitian. Originally I was writing about Juvenal’s Satires and I started at the politics of the time period he was writing about, and I noticed that for some reason he focused a lot of his very dark material on the reign of Domitian, so I started to investigate the period myself and found out that the period was much more interesting to me. I started looking at primary source materials and impressions that ancient authors writing shortly after his death had, basically a smear campaign after his death.”

On her original translating: “Well I’ve been doing my own original translations, which is a little more time-consuming, but have been referring but to commentaries. I took Latin in high school so that’s helped a lot. But it’s been very interesting because several of the authors I’m working with hadn’t been translated until recently, so it’s been very interesting trying to find reliable commentaries and sources.”

On her progress: “I am very close to the finish line at this point. I have almost everything written and it’s a matter of editing and trying to actually sound good.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Oh gosh…I don’t know if it’s necessarily traumatic, but the other day I thought I’d erased a entire portion of my thesis in an effort to conform to margins of my cover page. So yeah, that was an interesting experience with Microsoft Word where, for about fifteen minutes, I sort of freaked out. But it’s all good.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “I would say take as few courses as you can when you’re doing a thesis just so don’t have that added stress. And if you’re going to take classes, take courses that you really enjoy and that aren’t so much about the work, Maybe something more physical or extracurricular, like a dance or art class, so there isn’t as much pressure on you when you’re working.”

Plans for April 11: “I’m definitely going to be downing an entire thing of champagne, passing out, and then waking up to finish an assignment for a class that’s due on April 12th. Yeah…it’s wonderful…We’ll see if that happens. But after April 11th, I’m excited to going back to a social life.”

Kirby Sokolow ’14, Religion major, carrel #010

Working title: Cyberspirituality: Constructing Religion through the Internet

On her topic: “So it’s looking at two online religious websites, or one is called iChurch and it’s an Anglican church online and they meet for prayer services and the other one is a cyber shaman community where they all use this interface to channel energy towards their goals. I’m basically looking at how they construct community through the internet, how they blend authority and subjective spiritual practice.
There’s forums, the church has a chat room, where they have prayer. I know the cyber shaman [site] has a video chat, but I don’t think they really use it. …they all idolize the creator of the site, it’s kinda creepy, but cool.”

On her progress: “I’m just editing, really; that’s all I got left. Um, yeah, line editing.”

On her current mental state: “Um, I’m like, I’m stressed out, I’m really stressed out. It’s more, I dunno, my advisor thinks I’m in a good place so I’m like, kind of good, but I’m still obsessively editing.”

Plans for April 12: [laughs] “Oh, I have a field trip, actually… for photo, Digital Photo, we’re going to New York. So it’ll be fun but it’s like, not up to me, I can’t just lay in bed.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “My hard drive crashed. I had an external hard drive but I couldn’t remember the last time I backed it up. And I’d backed up my thesis but I hadn’t backed up my notes or my sources, but luckily the computer center was able to recover everything but it was- it happened like, late at night so I couldn’t- I was just like terrified for like twelve hours.”

On procrastination: “…I don’t know. I haven’t really procrastinated; I directed a play last week–Highway Alive, Lindsey Shapiro ’14’s thesis–so that was kind of procrastination, but it was also work, so. Watching Friends.”

Song/movie/TV show: …like a weird spy movie… like a creepy, I’m-spying-on-them kinda show, like a camera in a reality house… yeah, that’d be it.

Favorite part of thesis: “The cyber shaman website is really cool; they all use this interface thing, they arrange pictures to channel meditation, and they all just talk about their goals, so some people really want to win the lottery, but then there’s some people that are so desperate for their, like, parakeet to live, and it’s just really- I mean, it’s sweet, but it’s also really interesting to see what people care about and the weird things that people try to communicate over [the internet].”

Jon Lubeck ’14, Anthropology major, carrel #012theoretical poopz

Working title: Encountering Milpa, a Gringo in the Yucatan

On his topic: “Ummmm, stuff.

Um, it’s kind of a long-winded explanation. It’s about ideas of indigenous culture and how we romanticize them and how we romanticize indigenous practices and how we create this narrative that capitalism is all-destroying and consuming everything outside of it and how in reality things are like hybrid and morphing and are constantly being reformulated and recontested. And I use my experience in Mexico working in a farm and working with this farmers’ school as a way of entry into that idea of hybridity.”

On his progress: “Um, I’m like finishing up some stuff, but pretty much I’m almost done, partially enrolling is really nice.”

On his current mental state: “Mmm, relaxed? Pretty relaxed, yeah.”

Plans for April 12: “I’m gonna move this shit out of my carrel. Um, and I’m probably gonna get really drunk. And eat Indian food.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “A few times, my advisor has been like super super harsh with me and almost made me cry… but I’ve never like, actual full tears haven’t come, so yeah, probably that.”

On procrastination: “What’s my favorite form of procrastination? Um, cooking food and drinking mate.”

Song/movie/TV show:Bob’s Burgers.
…it has nothing to do with Bob’s Burgers, I just like Bob’s Burgers.”

Favorite part of thesis: “Not having to take other classes. Also, feeling official.”