Up next is Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth with a graphic memoir of their own. Keep reading below the break to learn about Sivan’s topic, their advice to future thesis writers, and a warning to people who destroy thesis carrels.
Where are you right now, location wise?
I’m at home in Toronto, Canada.
What’s your major?
I’m a English major. I was an art major, but I dropped that do this thesis actually.
Draw Me Out: A Graphic Memoir
What topics does it discuss?
It started about Jewish American women in graphic memoir and turned into more of a discussion on how Jews have drawn their body. It examines their bodies in graphic literature and comics, and how that image been informed by anti-semitic propaganda. So it’s that narrative alongside my more personal narrative.
What was the process sort of coming up with your thesis and then actually creating the final product?
It kind of started in my freshman year when I took a comic making class that I loved. Around the same time I read a book called How Come Boys Get to Keep their Noses? by a woman named Tahneer Oksman. It’s about how various Jewish women have used the graphic memoir form to talk about their experiences as Jews and as women. I knew that was something I wanted to pursue, but as an art major I was looking for a way to make the idea fit the qualifications for an art thesis which are very gallery and fine art oriented.
It’s not that they said no to doing a comic, but they were not super enthusiastic. I was not getting a lot of support and there was a push back against illustration style art, so in the last week of junior year I ended up dropping the department. I still tell people I’m an art major. I did all the qualifications except for the thesis.
Apart from that were there any other lowlights of your thesis? Any highlight as well?
A definite lowlight at the end was the process of formatting. I had all the pages, but then had to use InDesign to format it, and I’m not good at computers so that was incredibly stressful and hard. But I think my highlight was my advisor, Christina Crosby, I’m obsessed with her. She’s the best and I felt very lucky to be able to work with her.
What advice would you give future thesis writers?
Don’t do a thesis unless you really want to, there’s no shame in not doing it. It’s the kind of thing where if you have something you actively want to do the thesis is worth doing, but it was a lot of work. This was something I cared a lot about and I was still dying by the end.
What were some repeated phrases or words you found yourself using?
I feel like I used the word ‘narrative’ way too much. I also kept saying graphic literature and at a certain point, I was like, why can’t I just say comic?
What has been your favorite form of procrastination? Has it changed at all since Coronavirus?
My definite favorite form of procrastination was making other comics that weren’t related to my thesis. It was great because I could pretend I was being productive, even if I wasn’t. Once quarantine hit and I got a Switch, so now I’m just playing Animal Crossing.
How did the Coronavirus affect your thesis in general?
It made me really glad I wasn’t still an art major. I feel so so horrible for everyone who lost studio space and supplies. Initially, when I thought I was going to be an art major, the project would have had to have been on a much greater scale in terms of materials. I was lucky that the space I needed was small, just paper, pens, and my iPad.
How did you celebrate turning in your thesis? How do you feel now that it’s done?
I feel really good that it’s done. I was sad we couldn’t do a champagne pop moment, so instead I just drank a bottle of champagne alone (I FaceTimed another friend who had also finished their thesis so I wasn’t alone alone). Also my mom made donuts and on one of them she wrote “Sivan’s Thesis is done!” which was very cute.
If your thesis was a TV show/Movie/Song which would it be?
One of the throughlines of it my thesis the history of Superman, who’s created by Jews and is in many senses like an allegory for the Jewish diasporic experience. I feel like the only thing I can really say is Superman movies or comics, there’s not really another answer I can give although it might be thinking too highly.
Notes on Theses Feces?
It wasn’t nothing out of the ordinary, but I do think I poop more than the average person. So certainly, it was a way of procrastinating.
Any final thoughts/advice/gripes?
Well, I had an open Carol at in the basement of SciLi, which was excellent, but a few months into it somebody destroyed my Carol. I had, a little curtain and all kinds of comics hung up that I was using as resources. So whoever ripped down my curtain and my comics, if you’re reading this you’re not forgiven.