Thesis Christ: Heidi Whitehouse ‘13

In the Congo in the time of King Leopold II, Belgian colonists and companies brutally exploited indigenous Congolese peoples in the name of “civilization.” Such is the premise of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a Victorian-era novella that is touted in academic circles as a scathing criticism of racist imperialists. But with her thesis, Heidi Whitehouse ’13 points out that Conrad’s novella may not be as anti-racist as academics are prone to believe—and that, in fact, Conrad’s language bolsters the racist language of the Victorian Era.

Thesis Christ: Harry Fukano ‘13

In the 1840s, Ireland experienced a potato famine that wiped out one-eighth of its population and displaced another fifth. According to one thesising senior, the heavy impact of Irish displacement, combined with Irish nationalism, had an unexpected effect on the American Civil War. Harry Fukano ’13, from Los Angeles, California is writing his 90-page History thesis on Irish participation in the American Civil War with his adviser, Professor Margot Minardi. In summing up the aim of his thesis, Harry says, “Essentially its on trying to figure out why the Irish, the majority of which are recently displaced from a famine in Ireland, would choose to engage in this pretty serious military action for a country they had just recently arrived at.”

Harry explains that the term “Wild Goose,” which will appear in the final title of his thesis, is a historical trope used to describe Irish people who enlisted in the militaries of other countries, such as the American Civil War. “After Ireland fell to the English invasions in the 1600s, a lot of Irish resisters and soldiers were expatriated out of the country,” Harry explains.

Thesis Christ: Autumn Dobbins ‘13

Sometimes, at the end of an odyssey, you have to walk around, waiting for someone to ask if your oar is a fan for winnowing grain. Sometimes you do a thesis.

Autumn Dobbins ’13, of Kirksville, Missouri is doing her Theater thesis on a new way of designing for the stage to reflect the digital age.

Thesis Christ: Danny Sellers

In the 1990s, development economist Amartya Sen formulated a controversial theory. He postulated that countries that have a free press and competitive elections are better at averting famines, and he used events in Ethiopia, Sudan, Botsawana, and Zimbabwe to prove his point. Using the same countries as Sen, and incorporating three additional African countries, Political Science major Danny Sellers ’13 will seek to challenge this theory.

Cool Thesis of the Week: Auden Lincoln-Vogel

Auden Lincoln-Vogel’s ’12 studio sits in the far eastern corner of Reed’s art building. Various art supplies, past projects, posters, and papers line the walls and tables, embellished here and there by a typewriter, a clothes hanger lined with dangling keys, and a half-serious contract allowing him to borrow a friend’s scooter. It all creates the sort of artful chaos one would expect from a Russian/Studio Art major in the middle of his thesis work. Indeed, taking up most of the room is a key part of Auden’s project: a white, clay model of an apartment, containing only a simple bed, a desk, a chair, and a computer. With this, Auden plans to create his stop-motion animation thesis on the surreal and bizarre art of Russian animator Igor Kovalyov.

Cool Thesis of the Week: Francois Vigneault

Editor’s note: This article was originally published with Francois’ previous name Francois Paultre, but has been updated to reflect his new name. 

Two bisexual Latina girls, named Maggie and Hopey, lie together in bed. It’s 1982, and the two eighteen-year-old girls are part of the California punk-rock scene. Suddenly, Maggie needs to leave for her job repairing rocket ships. This is the first strip of Jaime Hernandez’s comic series Locas, which details the relationship of Maggie, Hopey, and their constellation of friends and acquaintances. Thirty years later, Hernandez still publishes Locas (which is Spanish for “crazy women”) in the serial comic book Love and Rockets, which he puts out independently with his brothers, Mario and Gilbert.

Cool Thesis of the Week: Katelyn Best

Thirty years ago in Managua, Nicaragua, a group of students had an incredibly rare opportunity. After the Sandinista revolution, a school for disabled children was founded, bringing over 400 previously isolated deaf children into contact with each other. Initially having no language with which to communicate, the children interacted by making up their own signs and gestures, building their lexicon until they eventually had a common method of communication. The students had created a language from scratch. Katelyn Best ’13 is studying the phenomenon of Nicaraguan Sign Language, or NSL, and its relation to linguist Derek Bickerton’s Language Bioprogram Hypothesis for her thesis, which she is working on with Professor Kara Becker.

Cool Thesis of the Week: Wyatt Alt

Wyatt Alt’s ’13 thesis? Counting the Number of Domino Tilings in the M x N Projective Plane. “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.”

Cool Thesis of the Week: Max Maller

Much of the material academics study is the product of the elite. But Max Maller ’13 seeks to study an art form that rose out of the lower echelons of 19th Century China. His Chinese thesis, which he is working on with Professor Hyong Rhew, explores the art and evolution of Xiangsheng, a popular form of comedy in China that originated in the markets and temple fairs of Beijing during the Qing Dynasty.

Cool Thesis of the Week: AnnaLise Bender-Brown

In Western culture, female genital mutilation is regarded as a violent act against women that is a product of patriarchal oppression. Girls who are victims of this mutilation are stripped of their agency and coerced into a ritual that destroys the possibility of sexual pleasure in the future. AnnaLise Bender-Brown is out to deconstruct these ideas. For her anthropology thesis, which she is working on with Professor China Sherz, AnnaLise of Seattle, Washington sets out to challenge Western views of female genital cutting in Kenya. “Terminology like mutilation is loaded,” says AnnaLise, who prefers the less biased term Female Genital Cutting, or FGC.