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Thesis, Thesis…Part I


Hello, Union! I just can’t win for losing. All I have to say is that keeping up with blogging is pretty darn hard in this fast-paced world of college! And let me tell you exactly why…


Yup, it’s as simple as that. But at the same time, it’s all the more complex.

Having the opportunity to write about what I love (Union) whenever and whoever I would like to portray it is probably one of the most unique and wonderful writing gigs I will ever have. But at the same time, finding time to sit down and type a few lines has proven to be all the much more difficult. So, while I have one moment to spare, I’d like to reflect upon the academic opportunity I have been given these past couple of terms and just why, as a senior, it has been difficult to continue my consistent blogging:

Ahh thesis. I won’t go too much into the particular details of my own, but I will talk a bit about the process of writing roughly 80 pages. It is quite an interesting and important one after all. As a History and German Interdepartmental Major, I have produced (well, almost…) a combined thesis. My writing has been in the format and style of history, but I have examined primary sources in German. Neat thing about ID majors here at Union is finding ways to combine the two disciplines! So, here’s just a bit more information about what goes into writing a senior thesis, at least as I know it in the social sciences.

1. Preparation: I would have to say that preparation for a thesis commences pretty early on in college. While the First-Year Preceptorials introduce incoming students to the style of college writing, the Sophomore Research Seminar immerses them in the standard of academic research. One of the neatest aspects of these programs is the interdisciplinary nature of them both. And also the ability for the students to choose a wide variety of course topics, one of which they will be placed in for class. I truly lucked out with mine in that it pretty much further directed my course of study, my academic advisor, and even highly related to my senior thesis (in a sense). Union then continues to set students up to pursue thesis-level research through junior and senior seminars in their disciplines. At least from my perspective, I felt very well prepared to take on the challenge of writing 80 pages. Each chapter felt just like a seminar paper linked together by a consistent topic.

2. Topic: Speaking of…Well, the history department at least has a pretty neat way of going about the whole process. Students propose a few subjects they might be interested in (likely derived from previous course experience or general interest), and also suggest a number of faculty members that might be conducive to reviewing their research (likely again from courses and a list of faculty specialties). The final decision is made, the student is informed, and the magic of thesis writing starts to happen. Likely topics are narrowed down from a broader sense to a more narrow focus over the summer and the early weeks of the fall term of senior year. Meetings with faculty advisors tend to occur on a weekly basis or as needed.

3. Sources: In my case, research mainly focused on primary sources (especially government documents, personal correspondences, newspaper articles) and also spanned secondary analysis. The seminar classes especially assisted in the handing and discussion of historiography in relation to my topic. Such a vital aspect of academic research! Resources like ConnectNY and ILLiad especially help bring in material from all across the country. Just last week, I received sources from Harvard, Columbia, the U.S. State Department, and somewhere out in California. Pretty neat stuff! The ability to examine primary sources and see their relation to the greater picture of history has probably been one of the most fascinating aspects of my academic career.

Well, unfortunately, I’ve reached my time limit with this blog post and must get back to work. Check back in next time for more information on the extremely rewarding experience of senior thesis!

Next blog post: Research, writing, and revisions…Oh my!


February 2016
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