Welcome to the fourth installment of THESISCRAZY 2014, the feature where we interview thesis writers in the midst of their last minute panic. To see our first three THESISCRAZY features for this year, click here, 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!
Brendan O’Donnell ’14 aka BZOD, CSS, carrel #217
[I initially intercepted Brendan printing something on the Main Floor]
Working Title: I have a sort of title. My professor asked for one so I made something up. I’ll email it to you. Something that starts with LGB and T and then a colon. [Edit: he did email me. It’s called: LGB and T: The Historical Roots of Division in the Present-Day Queer Movement]
Your thesis is about…: It started about trans* politics. OK basically I’m looking at this bill, the Employment Non-discrimination… OK don’t start with that. OK I’m looking at the present day LGBT movement and the historical roots of the existing divisions. I’ve looked at this Act in 1944—the Employment Non Discrimination Act—which aims to extend Title 7 to people based on sexual orientation. As soon as that happened, trans* activists started to battle for that to include gender identification. A lot of that was about pragmatic politics, but other things that came out in that debate is why are we including trans people in the gay movement? What do they hold in common?
Does this relate to the trans* activism on campus about bathroom gendering?: I think that a lot of these concepts are very relevant. I think the term LGBT as used to describe a community or cause does not work. While there can be group that identifies as LGBT because they advance those causes, there is no such thing as an LGBT cause. There are some gay causes that are trans* causes, but they rarely fall into the same group. The bathroom thing is about trans* issues, which causes many gay and lesbians cis-gendered people to say: I don’t get why this is an issue. I think the bathroom revealed that trans* issues are not expressed in the queer community the way gay issues are. The bathroom thing was not a thing that a lot of people in the queer community were really aware of. It was a group of trans* people and allies who made those actions. I also know that there are a lot of trans* people who feel that the queer community here does not recognize them and focuses more on cis-gendered queer issues.
How’s your progress: I did about 2/3 of the thesis crazy interviews last year. I learned how last minute everything is. I’ve pretty much written everything, but I need to write the introduction. By the end of the night ideally I’ll have the intro conclusion or both. And then it’s just nitpicking.
What’s your mental state: It’s fine. I was nocturnal for a while. Only sleeping for small blocks of time during the day and not sleeping at night or eating normal meals. It was extremely productive.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened in your carrel: It’s only weird because of the size but I’ve taken a lot of naps on the floor, which requires curling yourself around the chair…
Did you sleep well: No. I mean it was a nap out of necessity.
How late do you stay here: 1 or 2? I’m a night person. Although I have been here as early as 9 AM. Sometimes I didn’t go home. Over the weekend I would work until 2, go to the CSS library, and then come back to Olin.
Movie/Song/TV show: Shit. You think I would have a better grasp on how to answer this one… Hm.. I dunno. Pop culture has been so out of my life in the last few months. I can’t think of anything in pop culture so boring that would reflect the amount of time I spend looking at footnotes and shit. I listen to a few very specific things. I listen to the soundtrack to the 2009 movie Moon. I started listening to it writing papers in freshman and have probably listened to it for over 300 hours by now…I haven’t checked.
Sarah Dash ‘14, History and Italian Studies, Carrel #025
Working Title: I just changed it… At The Fascist Table: Cooking from 1922 to 1943. I can’t decide if it should have the word ideology in the title, or hegemony, or control or something.
Is that because they relate to your topic: Yeah. Basically you can look at how their fascist ideology was put in to practice despite many many many challenges through food and the women responsible for cooking it cooking—which might seem fruitless, but it’s really understudied. The weak sanctions placed on Mussolini’s fascist empire had nothing to do with steel or crude oil or things that would prevent war, so weak sanctions in terms of international politics, but they had to start producing their own textiles and food. Which ended up being really successful for uniting the nation and creating a policy of autarky. But because they were occupying Ethiopia and Albania and had WWII, all of the food got shipped away from Italy and the people producing that food. I take issue with labeling of fascism as ultra-nationalistic. Italy is so regional in terms of how they eat, speak, and identify. But, cooking with these sanctions ended up promoting regionalist peasant cooking even though it was trying to unify the country. So it’s really loaded. And you have to think of the women fighting this battle every day in the kitchen. Remember, fascism no-likey the women.
So earlier you were in periodicals, not in your carrel: My carrel is really hot. You hear people too. I prefer periodicals. More air. More space.
How long is your thesis now: It’s 90 pages now.. I wanted it to be 75, because only jerks write really long theses. It kinda confuses me why everybody is always asking how many pages they have because 1) nobody gives a shit and 2) nobody gives a shit.
What are your plans for April 11th: Smoke a blunt and drink champagne on repeat until I can’t anymore. I’m in play later that night though—Me Prometheus—so I have to be okay for that.
What’s your favorite form of procrastination: Peeing. I pee a lot. Is that weird?
What song/tv show/movie is most like your thesis: My thesis is something deceptive. Something that sounds like it’s gonna be really cool, but then is really depressing. It’s like Up. But no happy ending. Just more regionalism. But I guess the end of fascism also. That’s a happy ending, I suppose.
Kayla Stoler ‘14, CSS, Couldn’t remember her carrel number, but sat under a plant for her photo because SHE’S WRITING A POETRY THESIS OKAY
What’s your carrel number? My carrel is … I don’t know. The one Alec Harris ’14 is in. Pi café is my office. They call me the Queen of Pi. I’ll be doing knighting ceremonies all next week.
Working Title: My thesis is called Strange Weapons. Two words. No colon. You have to be pretty ballsy to put a colon in a poetry collection.
So you’re a CSS major, but you’re writing a poetry thesis: I decided to do something that felt like a culmination of my time at Wesleyan. My first priority here has been to push my writing skills. Either in CSS or poetry. So I wanted my project to allow me to explore both. I also like to live on the edge.
What’s your thesis about: I’m writing about American Combat artists, who are people who are commissioned by the US Military to draw and paint in a war zone. Combat Art is an exclusively traditional media. Painting and sketching. Oil, acrylic, and charcoal. Photography is excluded. Which is what makes it so crazy.I’m doing mostly contemporary art… People who served in operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
How do you feel right now: I feel excited for Spring to come.
What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you: In my lowest of lows, I’m exhausted, I’m walking home from the library back to my house. I’ve written like 15 pages this day. I’m walking in the Fountain backyards and I suddenly kick something. And there’s this little green thing on the ground. And it’s a little toy soldier. This was A SIGN that I was going to be okay. What are the chances?! I named it Major Thesis. When my thesis is over I will promote it to Lieutenant Colonel.
What’s your favorite form of procrastination: My favorite form of procrastination is 0248. I can’t wait ‘til I can completely devote my life to that game. I’m trying to get to the 8192 tile. And fuck you Charlie Kaplan ’14.
What song is most like your thesis: Chingy’s “Pullin’ Me Back.” I played it on repeat for a week.
Advice for future thesis writers: Write the thesis that you want to write and make your department adapt to what you want to do. Because ultimately the project is for you.
Ethan Tischler ’14, Religion, Carrel #214
Working title: Emptiness and Wholeness: Untangling the “Realities” of Tibetan Buddhism and Quantum Physics
What’s your thesis about: There has been over the past 40 years, a lot of people who claim compatibility between Quantum Physics and Buddhism. It assumes that Quantum Physics and Buddhism are monolithic, which is wrong. It assumes that there is a monolithic reality, which also could be wrong. The comparison ignores the 150 years between Buddhism and Science stemming from the colonial era that prefigure the dialogues to already agree with Science. Initially a lot of Westerners disillusioned with Christianity constructed Buddhism to be something it wasn’t. And then they posited that there were links between Buddhism and Science. They saw karma as a metonymy for evolution. The first link was karma and evolution. Second link was inter-dependence and relativity. Third was quantum physics and emptiness, which is what my thesis is about. And now it’s about neuroscience and meditation. When you see those pairings, there are always implicit power dynamics. The Buddhism that accords with science has changed dramatically (as has science). The comparison is not innocent. The whole comparison privileges science.
Progress: Progress is good. Just trying to make sure there aren’t any fatal flaws in the argument.
On the crocodile in his carrel: I thought I would put some money in the mouth every time I wrote a sentence, but I really don’t write in my carrel.
Plans for April 11th: No idea. But generally it’s to be out for a long long time. And then sleep for a long long time. Steps, nap, really good dinner, and then actually see people for the first time in weeks or months.
Favorite form of procrastination: To be honest, our class Faulkner & Morrison.
If your thesis were a song movie or tv show: [PROLONGED SILENCE] I started with song and went to movie. First thing that popped into my head was something by Miley Cyrus. For movies, Gladiator popped up but I don’t think that’s right. I’m trying to think of an actual answer. My housemate wrote a wonderful song for me, when this thesis was starting which was something along the lines of, “Ethan’s going to go save the Buddhists from Scientists.” And he would be mad at me if I didn’t mention it, but I don’t entirely agree with it.