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Seniors Let It Ride on a Spot in Their Bibliographies

Reading aloud from John Gray, Ph.D’s bestselling Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus in a friend’s common room one night after the library had closed, Johnny Flores ’13 joked about the potential relevance of the work to his thesis on the linguistic construction of ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ identities for homosexual men. Gray, who received his Ph.D. under dubious circumstances from Columbia Pacific University after completing a correspondence course, wrote his book on the notion that understanding his titular proposition is the key to dealing with the opposite sex. When Flores looked through a copy that had been left at his thesis desk by his friend, he saw that parts might be adequately suited to understanding the gender binary as a comical, but applicable, addition to his thesis. “To make my friend laugh when he read my draft,” said Flores, “I decided to try to cite it. […] I ended up including it [… and] when my advisor didn’t mention anything about it, decided to leave it in.”

From this act was born the idea for a Thesis Citation Lottery, with the intention that adding a tangentially related, whimsical source could add some humor to a bibliography. “At no point was I like, ‘Wow, this guy is onto something,’” said Flores, who thought the work would be relevant enough to be not completely nonsensical but funny at the same time. Flores and Katelyn Best ’13, who are organizing the lottery, are hoping that others will look for the same sense of humor in an equally plausible but perhaps unscholarly source. The lottery is structured so that each participant submits a work—published, unpublished, or perhaps their own thesis—to be cited and receives one in return to include in his own thesis.

Although very similar to the long-running Thesis Word Lottery, Flores and Best note that they are not seeking to compete with the tradition but encourage seniors writing their theses to participate in both. Those they have talked to have been excited about the lottery, although there have been concerns about justifiably fitting a citation into a thesis without loss of academic merit. Best says they are hopeful “citations will be substantive” but “citations of ‘and’ or ‘the’ have the potential to be equally funny.” Asked how he would know if the citations had made it into the final product, Flores joked, “maybe I’ll go through all the bibliographies and check.”

The duo is already getting submissions, but they noted that they had yet to decide on their own and there is still plenty of time to find the perfect work to submit. Those interested in participating can email or with their contribution by Friday, March 1. Citations will be distributed the following Monday.

One Response to “Seniors Let It Ride on a Spot in Their Bibliographies”
  1. J Flores '13 says:

    I would like to point out that there is a misquote in the first paragraph, one that I asked Brendan to fix and was assured would be handled. What I actually said was this: “A few days later I came to the library and my friend had left a
    copy of the book on my thesis desk so I decided to go ahead and see if
    I could cite it, mostly just to make my friend laugh when he read my
    draft. I ended up including it in my section about the approaches to
    understanding the gender binary and, when my advisor didn’t mention
    anything about it, decided to leave it in.”

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