Welcome to “My Thesis in 5 Photos”- a new series in which fourth-years share images that illustrate their thesis process—the good, the bad, and especially, the ugly. Our first edition comes from our very own co-editor, Zoë Knable, who is studying Art and Aesthetics and writing on the potential of the ecological site of the swamp as a new cosmology in the age of the Anthropocene.
1. Le Swamp
This is where it all starts (and hopefully ends) for me. It’s still difficult to formulate— but I’m basically writing about the history of tension between humans and non-humans in the ecological site of the swamp. Also it’s related to aesthetics and forming a new cosmology. Does that make sense? Very Anthropo(sceney) if you know what I mean. Even so, unbeknownst to myself, somewhere along the way of the research process, I’ve truly fallen in love with swamps. I’m utterly swamp obsessed. Pictured here is swampland in New Orleans, which I had the privilege to visit in January (it was even funded by OSUN!).
2. Thesis Absurdity
I remember talking to Vala in October and exclaiming how excited I was to be so entrenched in a research process for the many months ahead— this is now not UNTRUE— but the whole affair has thrown me into a series of dilemmas spanning from 1) Why I am writing about swamps? to 2) Can I leave the house today to go visit a swamp, or do I need to spend the day inside writing about them? For my second image, I decided to compile a few of the hundreds of messages that I’ve sent at this point canceling on my very well-meaning friends to read yet another article about decomposition rates. It’s always invigorating.
3. Help! I’m stuck in the Anthropocene!!!!!!
Sourced straight from my own meme account— this is the part of the article where I make fun of myself. As both an Arts and Aesthetics student and someone who generally tries to attain cultural capital by way of attending various exhibitions around the city, I’d like to wholeheartedly affirm that I am a victim of not only the geological period of the Anthropocene, but also the transdisciplinary discourse surrounding it!!!! Though the language in the meme above has all (somehow) found a way into my thesis, it is admittedly kind of silly.
4. RIP Hildegard von Bingen :(
A substantial and deeply unfortunate part of the thesis process is killing your darlings. It’s unavoidable. Hildegard was my favorite 9th-century-nun-darling. In the initial stages of my thesis, I planned to somehow (?) connect her organ music to swamp recordings created by the Lithuanian swamp-artist-duo Urbonas Studios, who I had the pleasure of meeting during a residency over the summer. The whole thing was pretty convoluted when it left my brain and was uttered aloud. Too bad. I really like Hildegard. She remains a part of the thesis process in the sense that I listen to her CDs when writing occasionally…
Through thick and thin, the good, the bad, and, most definitely the ugly; I dedicate my last pic to my incredibly patient thesis advisor, Dorothea von Hantelmann. This image is fairly self-explanatory— though what emerges from the last 7 months will hopefully be good-looking (and intelligible)—to put it nicely, it’s been a trip. Was it only two months ago that I apologized to Dorothea because my writing appeared as “a battlefield without rhyme or reason?” Things change quickly when the end is near. I’ll also take this as an opportunity to thank all of my loved ones for not only putting up with all of this, but also even reading bits of nonsense along the way! Nothing is produced in a vacuum, especially when swamps are involved.
Stay tuned for more of this series as the semester progresses!