On Finishing a Thesis

Carl "Ott" Lindstrom/ August 1, 2016/ Fellows, Sandbox: The 5CollDH Blog



5CollDH Undergraduate Fellow and Amherst College student Carl “Ott” Lindstrom has audience on the brain. His fellowship project is a multimedia Scalar exhibition tracking the changing relationship of the spectator with the media object from classic film to interactive video games to the immersive future of virtual reality. This is Ott’s second post of three; you can click through to read the first and third installments, or read an interview with Ott conducted by Jeffrey Moro.




I’m not a parent, nor do I intend to be one for quite a while yet. Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that finishing a thesis is rather like sending an ornery kid off to their first day at school. It’s a mad rush of preparation and pleading, clothes thrown all about, a bagged lunch haphazardly slapped together, crayons and binders crammed into a shiny new backpack, a backpack that will be all too soon muddied and torn to shreds by schoolyard roughhousing. By the time you hustle the little dude out the door and onto the bus, you’re in such a daze that you can’t even remember if you managed to put little Ott Jr.’s pants on the right way. But hey, at least he’s on the bus!

A thesis is basically that, but with longer words and a lot more temper tantrums. But good lord does it feel good to be finished.

I have regrets, of course. I wish I had been able to implement more interactive elements. I wish I had had the time to overhaul the CSS and learn the new documentation for Scalar 2.0. I wish I had made more video essays. I wish I had had the time to write more about horror films and camera-as-weapon and blab about Metal Gear Solid 2 and find some way to incorporate a conversation about audio and talk about paranoia thrillers and Outlast and Neuromancer and Snow Crash and all of those other tantalizing tangents that I kept swearing I’d get back to but never did.

I also wish I had given the whole thing at least one more proofread. There’s nothing more cringe-worthy than reading over your final draft minutes before your thesis defense and realizing you forgot to cite a really important quote.

But, on the whole, I’m proud. After four years of cranking out constant essays for English classes, more often than not making unfulfilling halfhearted arguments to appease a deadline and a grade percentage, the ability to just write about something I was legitimately passionate about, to fully immerse myself in my own interests and dive as deep as I want…that’s a rare freedom indeed.

And, if I do say so myself, it didn’t turn out half bad. What a concept.

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