THESISCRAZY (part 5): The Weather Outside Is Frightful But These Theses Are So Delightful

soo close to satisfaction

T-24 hours!! always remember: the world is your oyster and your body is a temple, so do what you gotta do to be as happy and as yourself as you can be in these tiring times. All these theses writers below are in different majors, and the breadth of their topics and knowledge is AHMAZING! check it check it out below for some inspiring plans of champagning and singing all tomorrow!

Kathe McCormick-Evans ‘19, Psych and AMST, Thesis in AMST, Open carrel in Olin.

Working Title: ‘That’s What Little Girls are Made Of: Paradoxical Productions of Identity in The Babysitters Club

On her topic: Basically, it focuses on the children’s series The Babysitters Club. There’s like over 100 books, or over 200 if you count the spinoff series. In my thesis I’m examining the way the books both present and construct identity of girlhood, specifically American girlhood, because on the one hand there’s all these ways in which the books are kind of lauded as these ‘early feminist texts’ for young readers about how these young girls are independent and entrepreneurial and have these strong female friendships, but on the other hand they’re babysitting, which is a very feminized form of care work. There’s a lot of argument that they’re regressive because of that. The other elements of identity that I’m investigating are the girls’ relationships to their bodies, consumption of food, clothes, and style presentation, and then the role of race, as well a slightly less so the role of socioeconomic class.

On how she thought of the topic: I took a class last fall with Elizabeth Traube called Style and Identity in Youth Cultures, and read a paper about teenagers using style choices to both present and construct their identity, and I immediately thought about my experience reading The Babysitters Club, in which all the characters’ identities are really tied up in style presentation. I remember that being pretty formative for me in shaping my own identity and concept of who I was; I tried to emulate the outfits of one of the characters all the time. I wrote a short paper about that for the class, totally forgot about it, and then late spring semester of junior year, after the deadline to propose a thesis had come and gone, I returned to the paper and read it again and was like ‘oh shit this is what I want to write about.’

How did you slip in past the proposal deadline? It was kind of a crazy tie of running around, trying to get things in order and getting someone to sign on and be my advisor. My two favorite professors, basically out of the goodness of their hearts, took it on. One was Professor Traube and the other was Hirsh Sawhney from the English Department. Then I was on the phone with the Department of American Studies and I submitted a late proposal and it all went through over the summer.

On her progress: Well, I just received notes on my final round of edits and there were no notes! My advisor said it’s close to completion so I’m feeling good. I’m now just polishing and line editing until Tuesday.

On her current mental state: Really excited because of that [the no notes]. You’re catching me right after getting that email so I’m feeling great right now, but overall it’s been up and down.

On her most upsetting thesis experience: So this actually happened like two days ago. Prior to that, I would’ve said trying to get it in past the deadline, but that turned out to actually be a really affirming and nice experience. But a couple days ago, I realized that I didn’t have any information on how to submit my thesis, and I thought ‘oh, whatever, they just probably left me off the email, I’ll just email the department head.’ Then I got an email back from her saying that she had assumed that I wasn’t going to submit my thesis in AMST, which is the only place that I can submit it. She had cc’d the registrar and I immediately got an email from him saying ‘you’ll have to talk to your American Studies tutor to see if your semester project should be submitted as an essay.’ I really lost my mind with that information because it obviously is a two-semester project but I wasn’t on the list because my advisor was in the Anthropology department. That was a moment of terror when I realized I wasn’t registered as an honors candidate. But all resolved. I am on the list, all is well.

On her favorite form of procrastination: I would say doing the New York Times crossword. I have a digital subscription so I do all the days of the week. I’ve definitely improved my skills substantially.

On her plans for April 16: I guess champagne on the steps of Olin! Hopefully it’ll be sunny. I want to be outside as much as possible post-thesis.

Her advice for future thesis writers: Know that any topic that you’re interested in can be an ‘academic topic.’ I definitely didn’t ever envision myself writing a thesis because I didn’t realize my scholarly interests or whatever were academic enough to write something like this. Don’t get caught up in the world of academic jargon, and if you have a topic you’re passionate about and interested in you can make it work.

On her favorite part of thesis: A cool thing that happened during the process of writing was that I became a lot more aware of the continued cultural relevance of the texts. While I was writing it Netflix announced that they would be doing a reboot and turning the books into a ten-episode series, and it felt really crazy to have that news while I was writing it. It was affirming to see that it’s still culturally relevant and important. There’s another book inspired by The Babysitters Club that was released in 2019, and there’s a podcast about The Babysitters Club that had their first live show in February, which I got to attend.

If her thesis was a song/movie/tv show: I guess it would have to be the upcoming Netflix reboot of The Babysitters Club! I don’t know what it would be if not that.

Her most used word/phrase: Boringly, I think the most common word in the thesis is ‘babysitter.’ In terms of quirks of my own writing, I realize that I start so many sentences with ‘indeed,’ and I have to go back and ax all of those.

Theses feces: I would say unremarkable. Nothing of note.

Dominoe Jones ‘19, Psychology, Scili A1

Working Title: Spotlight on Memory: Memory Through Psychology and Theater

On her topic: I’m looking at how theater can be used as a perspective to understand a topic like memory in everyday life in relation to psychological research. So my advisor is really into this subset of psychology called dramaturgical psychology which uses theater to understand psychology as a whole so I’m focusing that onto memory.

On how she came up with topic: I went to a performing arts high school, so I did a lot of theater, and I was on Second Stage until last semester. So I do a lot of theater. [The topic] came up when I met my advisor last spring. I took a tutorial because he’s an emeritus professor — so he’s retired — and I couldn’t get into any classes that I wanted in the psych department. So I took a tutorial with him and we got along really well because he has a background in theater as well, and I’ve spent eight years of my life doing theater. So that’s kind of how it started. And my focus psychology-wise is memory, so it kind of pushes the two together.

On her current mental state: It’s actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be… Like, I thought I was going to be non-functional. My brain doesn’t work anymore, but I’m not stressed, which is maybe not a great thing, but you know.

On her most upsetting experiences: Nothing horrible has happened — I haven’t lost any work or anything — but I keep having this recurring fear that pops up every once in a while, like: ‘This thesis means nothing. What was the point of twelve months of work?’ And then it kind of goes away and I just keep typing.

On her plans for April 16: So much champagne. I’m hoping to have my thesis in before that day, but I’m truly just going to let loose all day. I’m very excited.

On her favorite part of the thesis: I was rereading a bunch of plays  — half of the project is play analysis through a psychological lens, so I got to reread a bunch of plays that I had read throughout my life through this new perspective, so that was kind of cool because I was seeing things that I had never thought of before. And then also I did a lot of interviews and it was interesting to see how many different perspectives people have on theater and memory.

On her advice for future thesis writers: ‘Don’t Procrastinate’ is a good one. And it was really helpful, but I didn’t do this — but writing a really strong outline before you start writing is really good. Because I know some people whose advisors told them to only write an outline per chapter they did, and all of a sudden they have two weeks left and their thesis is so jumbled and they have to rewrite everything.

On her favorite forms of procrastination: I really like cooking. Earlier this week I decided I was going to make vegetable broth from scratch, so I had that going for twelve hours. And also, of course, this semester they put The Sims 4 on for five dollars, so I downloaded The Sims. And I’ve been pretty good at not playing it, but recently when my brain is just dead I’m like, ‘But… I could play The Sims instead of writing my paper!’

Her most repeated word/phrase: It’s probably ‘memory’ and I’ve been using one of those things that tell you if you make grammatical errors and so it keeps telling me, ‘You use the word memory a lot. You need to try using something else.’ And I just fully can’t. So it’s a lot of just me ignoring those.

On if her thesis was a song/movie/TV Show: Originally one of the names was going to be ‘The Two-Faces of Memory,’ so I feel like it would be Hannah Montana, because it’s got the two sides. Also, there’s just a lot of twos in my thesis — so I’m going to say Hannah Montana.
[The TV show or the movie?] I’m going to say the movie just because I want the Hemsworth brother to be in my thesis.

Anything else? For a psych thesis, you have to make a poster, because most people do research projects for their psych thesis, which mine is not. And so everyone else is going to have these beautiful clean white posters, and I’ve made mine with red velvet curtains in the background and very text heavy, so I’m excited for mine to really stick out during the thesis presentations.

Theses Feces: I’m actually on a weird cleanse where I”m not eating dairy, soy, or gluten right now, so I’m doing great. I’m really thriving. That’s the weirdest question ever.

Anna Apostolidis ’19, Anthropology and German Studies (thesis in both), Certificate in Social, Cultural, Critical Theory

Working Title of Thesis: Is Bigger Better: Postcolonial Memory and the Politics of Expansion at the Humboldt Forum

On her topic: My topic is about the Humboldt Forum, a new museum that is opening next year in Berlin. It’s been a really controversial museum for a lot of different reasons. The big reason I’m looking at is that it’s displaying Berlin’s ethnological collections, a lot of which have very complicated histories tied to imperialism (German, English, British, and French). So I’m looking at how do people talk about this museum and what is the ways that people talk about the museum tell us contemporary German politics of memory.

On how she come up with her topic: So, I studied abroad in Germany two summers ago. I was walking around and there was a big construction site in front of me. I was like, “What’s that?” and found out it was the Humboldt Forum. It turns out it’s a really big deal––it’s the most expensive cultural project in Europe in the 21st century so far. So I was like, “This sounds kind of interesting,” and it worked out with Anthro/GRST as a potential thesis topic.

On her progress: I’m good. I didn’t think I would be this good at this stage, I thought I would be panicking. I sent a draft to my advisor last week, we met, and there wasn’t much else to do. I’m just writing my bibliography.

On her current mental state: *thumbs up!*

On her most upsetting thesis experience: I was doing anthropological fieldwork––The thing about fieldwork is that it’s hard, especially when you first start out. I don’t know any anthropologist or anyone who does field work who’s like, “Yeah! This is so great all of time!” So I got to Berlin, and was like, “Shit, I don’t know how to do this!” I don’t know how to contact people and researching a museum that isn’t opened yet. So, I panicked for a week that I wasn’t a real ethnographer, but I ultimately did the thing I wanted to do.

On her favorite form of procrastination: Learning choral music, like for choir.

On her plans for April 16th: I have rehearsal for my acapella group an hour after the 4:30 champagne popping, so I’m going to celebrate but not drinking too much champagne. Maybe a little bit, and then going to sing with people.

Her most used word: Anything that I say is going to be super pretentious, but it’s either “post-modernism,” “neoliberalism,” or “cosmopolitanism.”

On if her thesis was a song: It would be Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, which are very *imitates sound*, and that’s what it feels like writing.


interviews by melihenry, and maury