THESISCRAZY2015 (Part 3): Pregnancy Analogies

Trina Parks '15 makes books for her thesis!

Trina Parks ’15 makes books for her thesis!

In this installment of THESISCRAZY 2015, we interviewed some metaphorical thinkers about their theses, their progress, and, of course, their poop. Parts 1 and 2 of the series are here and here, and THESISCRAZY features from previous years are here.

If you’re still THESISCRAZY and want us to broadcast it on the internet, email staff[at]wesleying[dot]org!

Paulina Jones-Torregrosa ’15, English and FGSS, carrel #422?

Working title: “This Bridge that Never Dissipates”

On her thesis: “Yeah so, I’m working on This Bridge Called My Back, which was published in 1981 and it’s the first time that women of color came together to write their own feminist anthology. And it’s been republished four different times by four different publishers and there’s also been some related editions. So I’m writing about the changes between each of the different editions. So I’m basically writing about the whole history of the book, all of its iterations.
So there’s not all that much difference between the four editions, and then also I didn’t know about the fourth edition, because the last one came out in 2001. So it’s like January and I’m in the COL library alone, working over break, and I realize there’s a new edition of the text that came out in March. So that was a major development.”

On her progress: “Good, I have a full draft done and I’m in the middle of editing my second chapter right now. And what’s super exciting is that I’m actually interviewing one of the writers in the book on Wednesday [today!]. I’m hoping to incorporate it into the conclusion. So I’m just editing like a mad woman.”

On her mental state: “Okay, well I was really mad about my thesis. I was just like mad that I had to keep doing it and looking at the same sources that I had looked at since the summer. I was very April Ludgate about the whole thing.
But then, I realized that it was getting so much better now that I got to edit it, so I should be grateful that I do get to edit, instead of being mad. So I’m doing okay at the moment.”

Her favorite part: “Oh, I think my favorite part is that not a lot of people have read the book that I’m working on, so I get to share my project with other people and a lot of time I’ll send people different essays from it or people have never heard of it and they’re really interested in it, so I think getting to introduce some of my friends and my colleagues in FGSS to this text has been really fun.”

Her favorite form of procrastination: “Oh I have several. Trust me. Okay, looking at pictures of puppies on Buzzfeed, mostly anything on Buzzfeed. I’m super glad that you asked me this question because the other day, Siri Carr ’15 and I did yoga in my double thesis carrel. So mostly bothering my friends in my thesis carrel, puppies of Buzzfeed, and yoga.
The other day–this is the lowest I’ve ever sunk in thesis procrastination–I googled “pugs for sale brooklyn.” And I was looking at different animal shelters, like to see. Pugs don’t tend to end up in animal shelters, but I decided that I really needed to stop thinking about my future dog and start thinking about my thesis.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Nothing horrible has happened to me, but I did kind of rethink the structure of the entire thing over winter break, because I realized I just didn’t have the evidence I wanted to make the argument I wanted for the second chapter, so I kind of restructured the way the entire thing was going to look.”

paulina carrelPlans for April 10: “Champagne. Yeah. I don’t have any plans other than being on the steps of Olin and trying to finish my bottle of champagne.

Advice for future thesis writers: “People I think are afraid that they’re going to hate their thesis. Like that’s why they don’t take it on. And I think that your thesis is kind of like a friend. In that if you saw your friend every single day, you would hate them, but you wouldn’t really hate the essence of them… that’s not really advice, I guess, that’s just platitudes.
I think, one my biggest pieces of thesis advice is don’t be afraid to rewrite. Like we all throw out our drafts, I’ve rewritten my introduction three different times, I completely changed the structure of my first chapter three different times, so don’t be afraid of that. In doing it wrong, you’re going to learn how to do it right.
Oh, and pick something that you’re really interested in. It’s just not worth it if you don’t love what you’re writing about and I think that the thesis is like for you to figure out if you can handle a project like this and to really delve into a subject that you find really cool and interesting. And that is the reason to do it.”

On thesis metaphors:
kitab: You’re a Wesleying person, so I can ask you this. Do you have any thoughts on the relationship between your thesis and your poop?
PJT: Mm, yeah, I mean I often use the phrase “poop it out” to describe writing. But I think it’s more like giving birth, honestly, because you’ve been sitting with it for nine months at this point, which is kind of crazy and all of our theses are going to have the same birthday, which is April 10th. But I think it’s more like giving birth, honestly, than pooping. Because you don’t really have a dream for what your poop is going to look like, but you do have a dream for what your child is going to look like, and you think it’s going to be one way, and then halfway through it’s just totally different and it’s not at all what you expected, but you still probably love it.
Yeah, I think it’s way more similar to childbirth, but that’s also because I’m an FGSS major, so.
kitab: Can we extend the analogy? I mean, is there any morning sickness? Thesis morning sickness?
PJT: Oh, let’s see. My thesis has never caused me to vomit. Luckily, thesis is better than pregnancy, because I can drink all the coffee I want, and all the alcohol that I want. Also haven’t gained any weight. So I think, yeah, thesis is really better than childbirth.
kitab: You’re also not saddled with your thesis for the next, like, 18 years of your life.
PJT: Yeah, also my thesis won’t continue to entertain me in the form of a child…

How she decided on this topic: “I first read the book my sophomore year, in a class called Latina Feminisms, and I was so interested in the book, mostly cause at that point it was still out of print. So I was like, “This book is so important, and so interesting, and clearly has made such an impact on feminist theory. Why aren’t more people reading it? Why isn’t it in print? Why isn’t it circulating?” So I kind of wrote this idea down on a sticky note on my computer and then sat on it for a while. And then when last April rolled around and I had to figure out what I wanted to do on my thesis I was gonna write about This Bridge Called My Back, and then what exactly I’m saying about it from there has kind of grown.”

(More) on theses and alcohol: “My friend wants to do a drinking game, where you take five pages of your thesis and you pick five different words that you know are going to pop up. So mine would definitely be: bridge, feminism, women of color. Yeah, that’s basically the whole thing.”

Kate Gibbel ’15, English, carrel #406

Working title: “‘Brethren.’ So I’m probably in the running for the shortest thesis title.”

What’s your thesis about? “So it’s a collection of poems about my grandfather who was a pastor in the Church of the Brethren. It’s like a biography, documentary poetics.”

On her progress: “It’s going well, I had a professor, like a mentor of mine, who told me that when she wrote her thesis in college, she did like 40% of the work over the summer. And I thought that sounded like a really good idea, so I tried to frontload a lot. I also did a reading in November, so I had a pretty big deadline then. Progress is steady, I’m doing a lot of editing of poems, and then also–I think of it as like slogging through the begats–working on my notes and my bibliography, which is slow-going.”

 

Kate's family photos

Kate’s family photos

On the structure of her thesis: “So I have a preface and three sections, and between 50 and 60 poems. I’m also making it on indesign which is really cool, because I get to use a lot of images, especially because I’m working with so much raw material, family records sorts of things.”

How she decided on a topic: “When I was a freshman, there were people on my team doing theses, probably like three of them, and I saw how hard they were working and how much time they put into it and I was kind of thinking about, well, what’s something I love enough to spend a year working on and won’t get burned out doing. I’m sure I maybe would’ve liked to do a critical English thesis, but definitely I chose the right thing.”

On her mental state: “Well, I feel kind of, well. Can I think of a good metaphor?
[kitab tells her about the pregnancy metaphor]
Oh word, okay. Let’s see. I feel almost at the nine months thing, where you totally come to terms that you’re gonna have this thing come into the world. You know, I’m not ready to be done with it and I think it’s something that’s going to live on beyond April 10th, but I feel okay with it, like, being born?”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Well, a few. I’ve had like, for example, some of the stuff about my thesis I don’t really want to be online, because it’s personal. So President Roth, over spring break, posted this thing about all the thesis writers on campus, which was really nice, and he included mine, and I was so honored and it was really awesome, except that there’s this clause that I just didn’t want on the internet. So I emailed him. And he was really nice, he was like, “I am so sorry.” But that was traumatic.
And when I had the reading, deciding what would be on the blurb was vaguely traumatic.
I recently tried to get my grandfather’s health records from the hospital and they denied my request, because I didn’t have his birth certificate. That wasn’t traumatic, but it was just that like I thought I was getting the health certificate. In Usdan I was so excited and then it was just like no, you filled this out incorrectly.”

kgibbel carrel 3Favorite form of procrastination: “Oh wow. Definitely watching Broad City.”

Plans for April 10: “I’m gonna get drunk really really early, because I’m waking up the next morning at 5:30 to go to a tournament. I need to get a bottle of champagne, that’s on my to-do list. But I’m just going to get really drunk and then go to bed at like 9 P.M.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Frontload! Start over the summer. I had an Olin grant which was incredible, and if you’re doing a creative writing project you should definitely apply for one.
Yeah, get work done over the summer. I mean, you know, if you’re a better like… procrastinating… type person. (That makes no sense. Maybe I am crazier than I think!)
If you’re better at doing work under like a hard deadline, then just get it done, but if you’re like me, start early.”

Favorite part of thesis: “I don’t know, it changes. It really does change. Sometimes there are just poems I like more than others.”

Have you showed these to your family? “I was at a reading this past weekend up at Mount Holyoke and my parents were there and I read four of my poems for my thesis, so they heard those. And I will show them to them, but… they’re both really nice, like, “you can just show it to me, whenever you feel ready,” so that’s nice.”

If her thesis were a song/movie/TV show: “Oh, something like, really weird and bizarre, but also religious? Like maybe a Gregorian chant, but the equivalent of a 20th century Gregorian chant.
Like Christian rock. My thesis is totally Christian rock, that’s what it is.”

On the difference between writing a creative thesis and an critical thesis: “It’s so different. I’m thinking about a lot of theoretical things just as much as other people, but you just articulate them differently? And it’s also, sometimes–well, I guess it’s the same for critical theses–but sometimes you’re just like, in this place where you’re writing and you’re writing and it’s just really going, and other times you just have to put your head down on the table and step away, because nothing good is going to come from that, from you trying to force it. In moments like those, that’s when you work on your bibliography. That’s what a professor told me recently.
I mean, it just is different. I can’t really articulate it.”

Jamie Hall ’15: Environmental Science and Econ (E&ES thesis), QAC carrel

Working title: “XRF* Derived Cyclicity in Pliocene and Pleistocene Sediments from ODP Site 693, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica”… really unexciting long title that needs to be condensed, I think… I need to make it more flashy.
*XRF is X-ray fluorescence

On his thesis: “So it’s on Antarctic climate during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs, but mostly the Pliocene epoch, and that was about 5.3-2.1 million years ago and it’s an interesting time period because atmospheric CO2 levels at their peak during the Pliocene were at 400 parts per million, which is what we’re at now, so it’s kind of like a nice analogue to what we might be experiencing and it’s also interesting to look at Antarctica at that time, because it’s really debated how much deglaciation the ice sheets experiences and so some people say they were completely stable, some people say they deglaciated a lot and so if we can constrain that more, we can make better predictions as to how much sea level rise we might experience, and so I’m contributing like a very minor amount to that research, but basically what I’m doing is using data from sediment cores that were taken off the coast of the Antarctic coast. we’re looking for different like patterns and cyclicities that were occurring during that time, so lots of data analysis and different statistical techniques.”

How he decided on a topic: “So I was really close with Suzanne O’Connell, who was my advisor, since freshman year, and early to mid-junior year, I told her that I was really interested in the work that she was doing in Antarctica and she said that there was a spot open in her lab and some opportunities to go to Texas over the summer, which is where the cores are, to run XRF analyses on them, so I said, “Yeah, that’s awesome, that’s definitely what I want to do,” and I jumped on that.”

On his progress (as of March 28): “It’s going pretty well, I think. I worked on it so much this summer that I’ve been a lot less stressed than most of my other friends that are writing theses, which is a weird position to be in, but also a nice position to be in, so I’m like, for sure starting to feel the pressure, but um, I have a fair amount written, I’m almost done with all the data analysis and then it’s just re-writing and getting my advisor to edit it more.”

On his mental state: “Doing okay, definitely doing okay. I think, probably next week is going to be really crazy, but right now I’ve been sleeping… almost eight hours every night and still being able to focus on other things as well so I feel in a pretty good position right now.”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “Mostly getting back from Texas and realizing that we didn’t have all the data that we wanted. Or like, some of the data that we collected was collected wrong and having to like frantically call them and ask them to rerun different core sections and trying to compile it and still being unsure if the data was being collected properly. And that’s definitely happened a couple times, where I’ll be like looking at my data and being like, this makes absolutely no sense, and then realizing that it’s like the wrong core section or something like that. So that always sucks.”

Favorite form of procrastination: “Oh god. Uh, definitely facebook a lot. Tinder a lot. Um, my friend showed me these things called Seth clips, which are on Vimeo, and this guy–Seth, I guess his name is–just watches a ton of television and compiles10 minutes videos of like, the weirdest YouTube phenomena that have occurred. There’s like, everything from bizarre newscasts to different America’s Funniest Home Videos. So those are great to binge-watch. I’ve been binge-watching those really hard. So I think those are probably my biggest forms of procrastination. I try to go running, every now and then, when I’m sane enough.”

Plans for April 10: “I’m gonna get really drunk on the steps of Olin probably. And then I have no idea, who knows? Sleep a lot at some point, I think. I’ll probably get really drunk and then immediately sleep a lot.”

On his favorite part: “That’s hard. I really enjoyed going to Texas this summer, and actually getting hands-on experience with the cores and seeing–there hasn’t been a whole lot of lab work since the summer, it’s mostly been, just data analysis and writing, which is fun in its own way, but doing the lab work I think was the most enjoyable for me.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “The big one, which I’m sure everybody says, is to make sure it’s really something that you’re passionate about. Because I love what I’m writing about, I don’t think it’s something that I necessarily want to do in the long run now, and so, it gets frustrating at points, being not entirely passionate about it. Make sure it’s something that you want to commit yourself to for an entire year.”

If his thesis were a song/movie/TV show: “I guess one that comes to mind is Encounters at the End of the World I think it’s called, it’s a documentary by Werner Herzog and it’s just about different research going on in Antarctica, so that seems fitting.

I’ve been listening to a lot of really aggressive hip-hop, like Death Grips, stuff like that. Good pump-up music.
Or like, maybe more appropriate would be some Björk music, that sounds more icy and like, cold. Yeah.”

On Bob Dylan: “So, scientific literature definitely gets pretty dry, I would say, so I’m trying to spice it up a bit by doing this thing: I read about these researchers, a couple authors, maybe five, that over a couple decades have been trying to hide Bob Dylan lyrics in different papers that they’ve written. So I’m hoping to include like two or three Bob Dylan lines in mine, like secretly, which would be fun.”

Trina Parks ’15, COL major, Archaeology minor, Olin book lab

Working title: “Right now it’s ‘Cracking the Codex: Exploring Medieval Technology through Replication.’ But I don’t know if I like ‘Cracking the Codex,’ I kind of just looked up a bunch of book puns and this was the one that was closest.”

On her thesis: “So basically what I’m doing is recreating medieval books from England, North Africa, and the Byzantine empire from the 11th and 12th centuries. And basically by recreating all these books I’m trying to understand the difference between what was a technological choice–like what they did for the strength of the book or stuff like that–or what was influenced by cultural choices. A good example of that is that the English books were made in monasteries and they took three hours to sew. Whereas the North African books took 22 minutes–it took me 22 minutes to finish it. Which basically indicates that there’s a different book culture going on, production culture, literacy. So why did the English monks chose, you know, this particular stitch, why did they care about speed? Why were Islamic binders so concerned about getting something done so quickly that the books just fell apart? Like these covers would just fall off like all the time, like they would use silk thread and they would just rip through all the pages. So basically just trying to understand those ideas.”

one book in three different stages of completion

On choosing this project: “So I work here in the book lab and basically my advisor was just like, “How do you feel about making a medieval book?” and I was like, yeah, sure. I wanted to do something that was both COL and archaeology, and I want to do book conservation, so I want to be a conservator and work with medieval manuscript. It kind of evolved from, “make one manuscript” to “make three different manuscripts, and oh, you need to make three different copies of each one,” so it went from one to nine manuscripts which was crazy. It was super overwhelming.”

On the written portion: “The written portion is basically like, what the research says, what scholars have studied about the bindings is one part, and then another part is my reflections on doing it, and another part is kind of analyzing those choices. So it basically goes through every single step for all three books. It’s kind of actually pretty boring to read, but there are a lot of pictures, or there will be. And I’m putting the books out for the readers to look through. So half of it is just having the text there to explain what’s actually going on.”

On her progress: “Um. It’s okay, I’m like almost done with the making, which will be great when it’s actually done. In terms of the writing, um, not so much. It kind of totally snuck up on me and there was all this stuff, like all this research that I had done that that I had never written about, so I had all this stuff like scattered like all over the place. So I have like… a lot of writing to do. Well, not a lot. But not a not-stressful amount.”
On how long the making process has taken: “I started making at the beginning of winter break, but I had gotten everything prepared beforehand. And really it’s just been, like, a couple projects every week. I usually come in on Saturdays and work all day and Sundays half the day. I mean, it’s been a lot. The English books, each one took three hours to sew, so that’s nine hours, just to like sew the pages together. It was a long winter break.
But I actually didn’t have to cover all of them, I’m leaving some not covered in leather. Because basically when you cover it in leather you hide everything. Luckily I didn’t have to go all the way on all of them, because that would have been really overwhelming.”

On her mental state: “I don’t even know. I feel like I’m just doing triage, just like sorting things into, “Uh, this is just a project that’s not going to happen right now,” you know, what can be salvaged. I had this whole vision of doing all of my own illustrations instead of scanning out of books, all my own diagrams, and that is just not going to happen.”

On procrastination: “Because I do most of my work in here [in the book lab], I’ve been making a lot of boxes. For stuff that probably doesn’t need a box, like I’ve been making myself like pencil boxes, and I’ve made boxes for all of my books. Yeah. It’s… not good.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “Oh god. So many. The one to nine books was really traumatic. But definitely the most traumatic thing was over October break: I was going into New York City to buy paper and basically I had just started getting settled, and my advisor just gave me two samples… of Islamic paper and parchment. So I was in New York City and I went to the paper store I was supposed to go to and it was all of like six square feet, no one would help me and they didn’t have the paper. And I had never seen Islamic paper before, so I didn’t even know what I was looking for, so I actually ended up going to the Met with a bunch of samples from the paper store, and like trying to compare them. And I ended up coming back empty-handed.
And we found something that she had, in her paper store, to use. I was like, thank God, because that was terrible. And then I came back and she’s like, “Surprise! I had everything here.” I was like, “was that a test?””

On her plans for April 10th: “Oh my god. I totally thought I was going to go crazy and drink tons of champagne. And I’m sure I will, but I also see myself crawling into bed at like 5:30, just being done for the weekend. And I’m so okay with that.”

On her favorite part: “I’ve loved doing it, and I’ve loved talking to people about it. It sounds strange but, because I’m not studying the decoration or the text or anything, people are surprised that I’m studying the binding, because they understand books as like the vehicles for information, rather than as an object that you should study. So getting people to think about it that way has been fun for me. But I’ve also loved doing it. It’s so fun, it’s like, my thesis is doing crafts. All day. And getting credit for it.”

Advice for future thesis writers/makers: “Don’t let your thesis be a guilt trip. Like it has the potential to be a yearlong guilt trip, whenever you sit down to watch Netflix or decompress after  a long day, I always felt like, my thesis was there and I should’ve been doing that instead of whatever I was doing that wasn’t my thesis. You know, let it be a thing that you do, and you make your time to do it and you do it, and you move on and don’t think about it until the next time. Otherwise it’s just going to hang over your head forever, and that sucks.”

On her poop: “Um… classy but sassy? I dunno, what do you say to that? It’s fine. I mean, I spend a lot of time in Olin, so poor Olin, I guess?”

If her thesis were a song/movie/TV show: “If my thesis was a song, it would be “Uptown Funk,” but I would’ve changed the lyrics–or I did change the lyrics–to “Uptown Monk.” ‘cause I was trying to do it really authentically, like without any music or distractions, I was trying to be zen and in the zone, and I was just absolutely losing my mind. So that’s what happened for three days.”

maxMax Owen-Dunow ’15, Government/French major (thesis in both), carrel 434

Working title: “The Devil Within: The Rise of the Front National

On his thesis: “So the FN is essentially far right party that has typically been very anti-immigration and very xenophobic, and they’ve always sort of been on the margins of French politics. And since 2011, under a new leader, who’s the daughter of the former president of the party, they’ve started to move a little center, it seems, into mainstream political respectability. And they’ve done surprisingly, or some would say scarily, well. Some recent national-level elections. And the broad strokes of it is that I’m interested in looking at why that’s happening, how they were able to recast their image and rework policy, perhaps, into a form where they’re more acceptable to the mainstream. And I’m doing that by doing a content analysis of their rhetoric, and I’m interested specifically in that question of, is this a real change, are they really becoming more moderate, or is it just sort of a rebranding or reworking? I’m looking at the language and the tone of their rhetoric to try to figure that out

max carrel 2So what have you found? “It’s actually really cool, they’ve got this strategy they call dédiabolisation, which means un-deviling, which is a reference to the fact that Marine’s father, who was the historical leader of the party, was a crazy motherfucker who was very extreme, very vehemently anti-Semitic. So the idea is under Marine they’ve been getting rid of the devilish stuff and just becoming a normal right-wing party, and the media has sort of accepted this narrative that they’re moderating. But what I’ve found is that when you look at their language around immigration, which is sort of their bread-and-butter issue, we actually see an increase in the usage of negative words, and the frequency of negative words, and an increase in usage of words like clandestin which means illegal immigrant. So they’re maybe like slightly moderating in some policy areas, but in others you see sort of entrenchment and like, standing their ground, and these subtle clues beneath the surface, that maybe they’re saying to their party supporters, “Don’t worry, even if we’re moving like a little towards the center, we’re still committed to this hardline stance.”

On his progress: “Uh, it’s going. I have a lot of friends who are writing theses, and we’ve been saying over the last few days that the proper attitude right now is to remember that it will be done by Friday no matter what, and hopefully it’s something I’m really pumped about and I feel like is the best work of my life, but in the all-too-likely case that it’s just something I’m super glad to check off and have done, that’s great too. And like, I’ll be drunk at 4 o’clock on Friday no matter what.
I just finished my last chapter like an hour ago, so I have to write a conclusion. But then theoretically I’m done writing and I just have to revise and revise and revise and do all these little, tricky, small things I’ve been putting off.”

On his mental state: “I’m actually, I’m okay. It’s definitely stressful, to be sure, and I’ve spent an unholy amount of time in my carrel the last few days, but it’s happening, and for whatever reason–I’m generally like a neurotic, stressed-out person–but this isn’t quite getting to me too terribly, yeah it’s good. I’ve had some serious breakdowns over the last couple months about it, but right now is not one of them.”

advice from Max's dad: "Get it the fuck done"

advice from Max’s dad: “Get it the fuck done”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “Uh, it’s hard to pick. I had like a three-day stretch where I could not get out of bed, like a month ago.
My project changed in like a really big way, at the end of last semester. I thought I was going to do some sort of bullshit-y, very political theory, like oh, why, what is attractive about the FN, but then I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and do this empirical, very data-driven project. About a month ago, I still hadn’t really figured out how on earth I was going to actually do that, or like what my methods were going to be and how I was going to gather all this content and analyze. And I had a particularly scary meeting with my advisor where she was saying I was going to want to have a full draft by the start of spring break, which obviously did not happen. That just really knocked me for a loop, I could not see a way forward. But I got through that eventually.”

On procrastination: “One is that I’ve, for whatever reason, played like an absurd amount of Tetris over the last couple months, I don’t know why. In high school I was really into Tetris and there’s this website called tetrisfriends that like, keeps track of your scores–I’ve gotten really good at Tetris. If I have one accomplishment from like the last nine months, it’s that.
I also, uh, my fellow thesis-writers and I, that I live with, have taken to destressing with beer pong. So it’s a good mix of the debauched and the very not-debauched.”

Plans for April 10th: “I’m actually in Terp later that night, which is kind of crazy. I hope that I’m going to be in a mental and physical state where I can like, vaguely move my body around. Other than that, not really for the 10th. I’m gonna go down to frisbee practice and like run around.
The friend that I live with and I have been more making plans for April 11, which we just want to do all the things we haven’t done for a month, because we’ve been so stressed out. I don’t even know what specifically we’re gonna do, but it just has to be the best day.”

On choosing his topic: “I was in France my junior fall, and I originally was interested in writing about French anti-Semitism. I’m Jewish and I had some interesting experiences there related to that and also, my grandfather and his brother both lived in Paris after the war, after escaping Nazi Poland. I was interested in the way that France and French society has this conceptualization of citizenship. In France you have to be French before anything else. They hate the idea of a melting pot, it’s not a place where you can be French-blank, you’re French first and foremost. So I was originally interested in that and it was an easy hop, skip, and a jump from there to the FN, especially because that is the thing that is happening in French politics right now. And I knew I wanted to find a way of combining my majors.”

On his favorite part: “I don’t know, it’s really interesting. And I think most people say that–it’s definitely like the most clichéd piece of thesis advice, like you can’t do something if you’re not passionate about it–but it’s been so fascinating along the way. I think my favorite part is that, you know, there are people that know more about the FN than me in the world, but I mean, I know a lot about it. I’m now an expert in maybe a narrow little thing, but this is my area of expertise, and that’s a cool thing to know.”

If his thesis was a song/movie/TV show: “There’s this really beautiful old French song that’s been stuck in my head a lot lately called “Il n’y a plus d’après,” or, “There’s nothing left from before,” and it’s about how two lovers meet in Paris again after years and years and meet and everything is changed, even the coffee tastes different and so on and so forth. And I think it speaks to–this is kind of a stretch, but–I think it speaks to the way that France is very concerned with what it is to be French. That’s kind of bullshit. But it’s a beautiful song.”

On poop: “It’s interesting, I was looking at other peoples’ [interviews, not poop, presumably] and my poop has been rather irregular lately, which I’d ascribe in some part to the fact that I’ve been eating a lot of like, WeShop frozen meals. In past years of THESISCRAZY, I always thought the image of thesis writers scuttling to and from WeShop with frozen meals was so absurd and I didn’t think that would ever happen, but that’s all I’ve been eating the past few days. Yeah, my thesesfeces are subpar, I would say.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “People keep asking me, like junior friends keep asking me if they should do this, and I go back and forth between saying definitely yes and definitely no depending on my current state. But I think the best piece of advice that I can think of is that really it shouldn’t be something that you do for anyone but yourself. And that sounds so totally cliché and bullshit, but I talk to people who did it because they got pushed into it by a professor, felt pressured to get honors or something, and those people, like to the person, are the ones who are the most miserable right now.”

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