A few years back, a Harvard biology major was procrastinating on her senior thesis. To distract herself, she spontaneously launched a blog called lol my thesis. She gave it this tagline: “Summing up years of work in one sentence.”
Soon, thousands of thesis-wracked students threw their ironies into the fire. Take this English major at Haverford College, whose thesis was titled “‘Do thou thy warste, and I defyghe the!’: Mordred’s Rebellion Against Arthur and Malory in Le Morte D’Arthur.”
Its summary? “Be nice to your local bastard. He’s a person too.”
A history major at Stony Brook University wrote a thesis called “The Social History of Yellow Fever During the American Civil War.” That summary? “Mosquitoes are scarier than cannons.”
Amherst also played along. One student’s geology thesis got this deadpan shorthand: “Rocks that are next to each other in Massachusetts now were also next to each other 400 million years ago.”
Laughing out loud at theses doesn’t detract from the serious work that goes into them. Each year, about half of Amherst’s seniors steel for this ordeal. They know the rookie mistakes of picking too broad a topic, choosing an initial hypothesis that turns to dandelion fluff, the killer march of deadlines, the weltschmerz of writer’s block.
Against the odds, though, some seniors squeezed out some fun. Robert Kwark ’17 installed a teddy bear, as a semi-satiric gesture, in the physics lab. Cassandra Hradil ’17 got to play thesis-related video games. They’re two of the eight thesis writers, from this year’s graduating class, spotlighted here. We salute each student’s attitude—and the lol summations they wrote for this article—and applaud the biggest academic achievement of their lives. Thus far.