THESISCRAZY 2016 (Part 7): I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

 “This morning I woke up and put toothpaste on the wrong side of my toothbrush, and continued brushing with that wrong side of the toothbrush.”


My my, this is our 7th THESISCRAZY 2016 feature (#RECORD). Here’s the gist y’all: Every year we interview humans who sometimes populate the (ethereal?) space of 4th floor Olin, writing theses and such. We ask thesis writers about poops and other things. Catch this part, this part, this part, this part, this part, and this part, and all the old ones from previous years.

Part 7, here we come. Prepare yeselves for top-spinning masters, incorrect toothbrushing, and the Lonely Island’s fave champagne:

gradyGrady McGregor ’16, ANTH major/CEAS minor, thesis in both, Booger (yes, BOOGER) Hall

Working title: “Right now I’m thinking ‘The Shit Will Be Higher Than the Mountain It’s Built On: Chinese Tourism and’…what was it…‘The Influx of Chinese Tourism in Taiwan: Complications and Consequences-ish’”

On his topic: “I spent last summer in Southeastern Taiwan with this group of activists who’ve been resisting hotel development on Taiwan’s southeastern coastline. So I’m writing about the activist movement and also the rise of mainland Chinese tourism in Taiwan. Ten years ago there was an agreement that allowed for Chinese tourism to begin, and now it’s starting to take over a lot of space in Taiwan, so I’m writing about that, these two forces, and the broader dynamics at play.”

On how he thought of his topic: “Well I knew I wanted to do something about China and Taiwan. I’d spent some time in that area a few years ago, and I was inspired by this group of activists and what I saw happening there. Also, I grew up in China and this thesis was a way for me to think more critically about what it means to be a foreigner there.”

On his progress: “My progress? Well, I’m partially-enrolling, so I did some work last semester but I did the bulk of the project this semester. It’s been pretty good; I work a lot around deadlines [Laughs]. Right now, I have a decent amount of work to do but I’m okay with where I’m at. I have a full draft done, and I’m just doing revisions at this point.”

On his current mental state: “I’m surprisingly okay. I thought it would be much grosser at this point in the process, but I’m okay. I’m also finishing school in like three days because I’m partially enrolling, and that’s also this weird thing to be thinking about. This isn’t just that my project is done but it’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “I had a chapter due right before winter break, and I got back some really intense comments about needing to fix it and it was kind of a make-or-break situation on whether I could even keep going with this project. I was working on it on one plane ride and I had a deadline that night, and I had to finish it in the Los Angeles airport. So I was just sitting there frantically trying to write and get it in before my plane left. I got it, but it was not pretty.”

On the not-prettiness: “I was just like…gross. I had In-And-Out on my computer and everywhere. Or maybe it was umami burger.”

Favorite form of procrastination: “My Tetris Friends account has been revived from like 8 years ago and so I’ve done a lot of that. I recently just spent about 20 minutes watching this video of these old Taiwanese men (so it’s somewhat related to my thesis) throwing spinning tops on very specific locations like 20 feet away. It’s super aggressive [Laughs]. So it’s been very inspiring.”

Most used word/phrase: “‘Mainland Chinese tourism.’ I wanted to coin like ‘Mainland Chinese Tourist Industrial Complex’ but I decided against it.”

If his thesis were a song/movie/TV show: [Pauses] “I don’t wanna say Titanic, cause that feels dark.”

On why Titanic“Like, lowered expectations upon a journey.”

On his favorite part of thesis process: “I loved getting together with all the other anthro thesis writers. I think that was my favorite part. I have this really weird niche project-y interest, but hearing about everyone else’s, while somewhat disconcerting ‘cause they were all so good, was my favorite part. Just like hearing about this interesting stuff with human-horse relations or like masculinity in Irish metal.”

Questions he wished we asked: “If your thesis was a building at Wesleyan, which building would it be?”

On his building choice: “I think I would say…my thesis…okay…tourism…maybe the admissions center.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “It’s hard and it’s kinda cool to have a project like this. I recommend partially enrolling because you can still be a little bit of a human.”

Plans for April 12th: “I wanna drink all of the champagne. Just all of it. Just like spray it everywhere and just soak it in, through pores. All of it. And then I wanna take all of my books…just like carry all of them at once…and then just dump them on a desk. But that probably wouldn’t be nice for the librarian. But I have this image of wanting to just like dump all of my books on a desk at the same time, so they’re not with me anymore.”

szinserSophie Zinser ’16, COL/FIST double major, thesis in both, Booger Hall

Working title: “So my thesis adviser suggested ‘Sans Titre’ which, in French, means ‘No Title’ and I pictured myself in a bar ten years from now telling people I went to a liberal arts college and majored in the College of Letters and French Studies and wrote a thesis titled ‘No Title’ and I just like couldn’t handle that image. So instead, I’m going with ‘Histoires’ which is the French word for stories, but then looks like the word for ‘histories’ in English, so it’s this melding of fact/fiction that I’m going for in my work.”

On her topic: “I’m writing about postcolonial theory and literature during second-wave French imperialism about Morocco. Specifically, as separate from literature about Algeria and Tunisia, which are the other two countries in North Africa in that period. And then I’m also positing a new methodology of writing about travel that I call empathetic or humanistic travel writing. Basically, a way of interacting with the other in a way that you understand that another person sees you as another also. And then I write my own travel log, which is a long-form creative nonfiction section.”

On how she thought of her topic: “I received an Olin grant last summer to study in Morocco and continue work that I’d begun with Professor Meg Weissberg in her spring class called ‘Jungle and Desert in Franco North African Literature’ (super niche). And I lived in Morocco for 2 months, and I came back and decided on my topic.”

On her progress: “Progress right now is good, I’m just in editing stages. I really hope to have a full draft by tomorrow [interviewed on April 9th]. I didn’t know editing would take so long. It’s not easy, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. But I’m surprised that I even have as much as I have now.

On her current mental state: “Let me think. How to answer this? Basically, I’m only able to listen to Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and rarely anything else, specifically ‘Ultralight Beam.’ And I’m confused as to whether or not I have a legitimate addiction to the song. Additionally, I’ve slept about 3 hours, in case you can’t tell. I’ve been throwing things in the trashcan and yelling ‘Kobe.’ That’s about as exciting my life has gotten over the past couple days.”

On her most traumatic thesis experience: “My most traumatic memory was, at the start of February, I had written a 30-page chapter over winter break and had edited it during the end of January/early February, and I was told that I couldn’t use it because I had forgotten a couple of key theoretical texts that were really niche that I didn’t know I would have to read. So I basically had to scrap the whole thing and start over on it. So where I thought I was being really ahead, I was not.”

On her favorite form of procrastination: “Trolling the internet for memes. My favorite one as of recent was one with a guy who is screaming ‘GET TO WADDLIN’ which I think is really funny. He’s just like walking like a chicken and saying ‘GET TO WADDLIN.’”

Most used word/phrase: “Probably ‘postcolonial.’ But I do say ‘Not this shit again’ at least 4 times in the post-face.”

If her thesis were a song/movie/TV show: “I don’t know…Maybe a little bit of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with a little bit of the dry wit of The Office. But also the seeming endlessness of The Office.”

Favorite part of thesis process: “A highlight was when my adviser sent me a link to this totally dope French song that I like by Stromae called ‘Formidable,’ but it’s covered in Arabic, and I loved it.”

Questions she wish we asked: “How detailed or long our acknowledgement sections are, cause I feel like mine is going to be really long. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of different people in this project, and I think when you interview one person, you only see what I’ve contributed to it, but so many other people have been such big sources of information.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Start your project early and start the process of writing and editing early. And don’t give up because it’s cool at the end, and it feels nice at some point, I promise.”

Plans for April 12th: “One of my favorite Lonely Island songs is ‘Santana Champ DMX’ wherein they sing an ode to a specific brand of champagne on a vineyard by Carlos Santana, and I’ve been trying to find a bottle of Santana Champ to pop so I can bump the song at 4pm. I’ve yet to find one, so we’ll probably settle for Andre.”

kwinnieKevin Winnie ’16, GOV (concentration in American Politics), QAC Carrel:

Working title: “Okay, yeah I think so. I kinda wanted to make it funny, but my professor wasn’t really into that, but it’s basically ‘The Role of Education in Political Campaigns.’ I kinda wanted to make it like ‘What’s Goin’ On? Education Policy and Campaign,’ but that’s not cool.”

On his topic: “I’m trying to figure out how politicians talk about education, specifically looking at what exactly is talked about, so specific mentions of education between state and federal government, and between Democrats and Republicans. I think this is important because education policy is very vast, it’s been sharing a lot between state and federal government and between parties, and there haven’t been very many studies that look at that.”

On how he thought of his topic: “I originally wanted to do something about education policy, but no one really wanted to advise that, so I was like okay, I guess I’ll do stuff in campaigns, I guess I have classes that I’ve taken about that. So yeah, now I’ve been working with a lot of data, which I’ve never done before, so that’s pretty cool.”

Favorite part of thesis: “I do enjoy seeing the difference in parties and how they look at it [education]. A major part of it is looking at school performance data and see if that correlates to whether you talk about education or not, and I think that’s really interesting.”

On his progress: “It’s been rough, I gotta be honest. It’s always good to know what you’re getting into, but I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. And, I’m still writing right now, but will be finished soon, hopefully by the end of the day [interviewed Saturday, April 9th]. But yeah, definitely a rough process overall.”

On his current mental state: “Let me just give you an example. This morning I woke up and put toothpaste on the wrong side of my toothbrush, and continued brushing with that wrong side of the toothbrush. That’s my current mental state.”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “It was coming back over break, and my adviser was asking me what my topic was. And I was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for like a year at this point.’”

On his favorite form of procrastination: “Not doing my thesis. In any sort of way possible. But probably just Netflix in general. I’ll be like this episode is just 20 minutes, but 3 episodes later it’s been like 3 hours.”

On his Netflix schedule: “I don’t know, it’s kind of a guilty pleasure, but Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I’m pretty pumped for season 2. Also, Bob’s Burgers just came out with some new stuff, so it’s pretty lit.”

Advice for future thesis writers: “Definitely ask other people how their thesis writing process was, and make sure you’ve got your topic down right away. You don’t want to switch it over the summer, or something like that.”

Plans for April 12th: “Yeah everyone asks me this, but I think it’s pretty obvious, I’m not gonna do my thesis, and just chill out. I have a cool Netflix schedule set up and hopefully there’ll be some cool things happening.”

dpopeDaniel Pope ’16, COL, #SatansLair

Working title: “I think it’s the final title. It’s called ‘Ghost Cities: A Novel’”

On his topic: “I’m really interested in cities in general and writing about cities, and I grew up in Seattle, so I wanted to write about Seattle. It’s basically a novel set in Seattle about radical social circles, like radical activist circles and anarchists and that kind of thing.”

On how he thought of his topic: “Well, for one thing, I have been going here to Wesleyan University for a couple years now and every time I go back home I see in many ways how the city keeps changing in ways that I don’t really like because of tech money and that kind of thing. And one of my favorite neighborhoods, Capitol Hill, is being gentrified and there always building new condos, and it feels like they’re sucking the soul out of it, and I went to high school there, so it’s really frustrating. I wanted to write a novel that would voice my frustrations about the changing city and about people who are working to ameliorate the negative consequences of those changes. And my main character is someone who has just graduated college going back home and seeing how it’s changed, so the audience is supposed to see it kind of through his eyes.”

Favorite part of thesis: “I have a couple parts that I really really like. One of my favorite parts is this funeral scene. The main character comes back home for the funeral of his old friend from high school whose committed suicide. So, there’s this really emotional funeral scene where almost all of the main characters in the novel ended up in the same catholic church, and it was just interesting to write because I met with the Wesleyan University Catholic priest and talked to him about funeral rites. That was really cool because he gave me all of this literature about it; these missals from Catholic funerals that he had spoken at. So I have these random photos of dead people in my room right now. So it was an interesting experience to research that. Also, there’s a part where the main character loses his fucking mind and that was probably the most fun to write.”

On his progress: “Really pretty good. I had 30 pages that I wrote over the summer, and I came in to meet with my advisor and he was like ‘Yo you should write a novel’ and I was like ‘okay.’ And so, 345 pages later, here we are. Yeah, it’s a lot of shit.”

On his word count: “It was 98,000. Now it’s around 97,700 and I’m slowly cutting.”

On having a longer thesis than Kobi Bordoley ’16“I think that you should mention that in the article, that it’s longer than Kobi’s [Laughs]. It’s funny cause Kobi and I both have the same advisor and so we did these workshop circles with him.”

On his current mental state: “It’s good. Right now, I’m really, really caffeinated. Also, like lowkey put a little bit of whiskey in my coffee, so through the editing process, I’ve been drinking this whiskey…I think it’s from Pennsylvania…called Rittenhouse. It’s very delicious, and it just feels right, you know. Pretty good, you know. Loosey goosey.”

On his most traumatic thesis experience: “I mean, it was pretty traumatic just trying to write it, in a lot of ways. Because, you know, I’ve never written a novel before, so it was a hell of a time trying to figure it out. Probably the most traumatic…I wouldn’t really call it traumatic…but when I first had a draft and then got feedback from my advisor and my peers and realized that I had so much more work to do than I thought, and that was just difficult. In general, revising and editing is really hard and not the thing I’m best at. I’m better at just sitting down and vomiting out a lot of content. The revising is arguably the most important part, so you just have to deal with it.”

On his favorite form of procrastination: “Kobi and I actually tag each other in a lot of memes. There’s a really good Facebook page called ‘I don’t like shit, I don’t go outside’ that has a lot of good memes that are basically just about how empty inside we all are, you know? They’re really funny. I think my favorite that I tagged him in was this Tinder conversation that was really awkward.”

If his thesis were a song/movie/TV show: “I think it would be probably…I’ve listened to a lot of Elliot Smith and Tom Waites when I’ve been writing it. They’re big inspirations and they’re quoted in some of my epigraphs which are really fun to write and find quotations for. If it were an Elliot Smith song, I think it would be ‘2:45am.’ For a movie it would be something between The Big Chill, which is about a bunch of friends coming together for a funeral of a suicide, and this movie called Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders. It’s this German/French film that’s really cool.”

On his theses feces: “Theses feces? Um, fairly regular. Well, I drink a lot of coffee during the working on the thesis, so sometimes a little too regular…or irregular, I suppose, in the ‘more’ way. But no, generally comfortable; I eat healthy so…”

Advice for future thesis writers: “I guess I would say, for one thing, creative theses are really fun. I would recommend doing that. Everybody that I know whose doing a creative thesis is having a really good time. Well, I mean besides the current stage of hair-tearing. I’ve never been this kind of person before, but I’ve gotten into a little bit of meditation where I sit down and edit or write, I’ll meditate for like 5 or 10 minutes. I have this app called ‘Stop, Breathe, and Think’ which I really recommend cause it gives you guided meditations. And that really helps me ground myself and focus on one thing. Other advice would be to make sure to have someone that is going through a similar thing to tag you in memes cause it’s really really fun.”

Plans for April 12th: “You know, I’m gonna pop some champagne on the steps. Some Andre probably. And then, have more expensive champagne for later. Realistically I’m gonna drink a lot and then probably conk out at like 5pm and then wake up probably at 9pm with all of my friends going ‘Oh let’s party, you finished your thesis.’ You know, all the non-thesis-writers. And all the thesis writers will be like ‘No, let me fucking sleep.’ And that’s realistically what’s gonna happen, unless I can, I don’t know, get a second wind to party. I don’t know what that would entail, but it would definitely not be reading anything and honestly I probably wont do any more work the rest of the semester.”

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