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History and Literature Seniors Submit Theses

Students and faculty flow in and out of the Barker Center, home to the Humanities Center at Harvard, on a Monday morning.
Students and faculty flow in and out of the Barker Center, home to the Humanities Center at Harvard, on a Monday morning.
By Edith M. Herwitz, Crimson Staff Writer

Drained after months of work, seniors at the College are beginning to finish their theses, and History and Literature concentrators turned in their works this week.

Though not all seniors at the College choose to write theses, History and Literature is an “honors concentration” which requires all concentrators to pursue one. Students begin research for their theses as early as the summer before their senior year.

Director of Studies for the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature Lauren O. Kaminsky said all of the theses within History and Literature are necessarily interdisciplinary, adding another level of rigor to the process.

History and Literature has its offices in the Barker Center.
History and Literature has its offices in the Barker Center. By Annie E. Schugart

“You’re engaging with multiple scholarly conversations. Very often you’re using multiple languages and methods of research. It can be difficult to manage these different methods and modes of analysis simultaneously,” Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky said the department tries to provide enough support so that students can write on a wide range of topics.

“History and Literature, specifically, does a really good job of supporting individual research,” agreed William L. Ezekowitz ’17, a senior in the concentration.

Ezekowitz wrote his thesis about American high school football in the Cold War, “especially as a repository for American values.” Ezekowitz said he got the idea for the topic from a book he read his junior fall in his History and Literature tutorial.

Hana S. Connelly ’17, an inactive Crimson editor, wrote her History and Literature thesis on the kidnapping of two Georgian princesses. She said she enjoyed the thesis-writing process.

“It does feel like I have something tangible to point to as a culmination of what I studied here,” Connelly said.

Kaminsky said the day seniors turn in their thesis marks a celebration not only for the individual student, but also for the entire department.

“There is a kind of community spirit that is part of today’s celebration” Kaminsky added. “It becomes a moment of celebration for all of the History and Literature community.”

Though History and Literature seniors are now done with their theses, many thesis-writers are still finishing up their capstone projects. The deadline for Applied Mathematics theses, for instance, is not until after spring break.

Other seniors decided to not write a thesis for their concentration.

“I am completely relieved that I decided to not write a thesis. I am pre-med, so writing one wouldn’t do anything for my future,” said Molly J. Y. Zhao ’17, an Integrative Biology concentrator.

—Staff writer Edith M. Herwitz can be reached at edith.herwitz@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @edith_herwitz.

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CollegeAcademicsHistory and Literature