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My senior thesis on Star Wars

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The undergraduate thesis might just be the ultimate form of self-inflicted punishment. Whether you’re in the Honors program, a PLS major or just plain ambitious, interested and a little bit crazy, the undergraduate thesis is all on you, in both times hard and good.
It seems like such a good idea at the beginning – 50 pages is nothing! That’s, like, five 10 page papers, which I write all the time, thank you very much. I’ve got a whole year to do it, and that’s one less class I have to take each semester.
And then your bibliography gets bigger, your research more in-depth, your nights more sleepless. You start to wonder, “Was this really all worth it?”
You will face many hardships on your way to writing that senior undergraduate thesis, and you will consider just laying it all down and giving up many times, but on that day you finally turn it in – well, you might never feel better.
I know this from personal experience – this past Friday, I turned in 70 pages of blood, sweat and tears. It was cathartic, it was a relief, it was celebratory – and it was all worth it.
It was worth it, not because I have 70 pages of academic insight to my name, but because I wrote my thesis on just about the coolest thing I could – “Star Wars.” Yeah, all that writing was hard. But even at its worst, my thesis was about “Star Wars!”
I spent countless hours reading about the most prolific movies of my childhood, the stories that inspired my young imagination and propelled to be a film major today. It was the closet to reading for fun that I’ve ever gotten in school.
Thanks to my thesis, I also received funding to visit Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Calif., to do research and conduct interviews. It may have been a working trip, but I’ve never had more fun doing work in my life.
Writing 70 pages about “Star Wars” (and the many complexities behind the life of that franchise), it turns out, was pretty easy. I was a fan girl writing something I would have enjoyed reading myself and, unsurprisingly, that made the whole thing an ultimately enjoyable experience.
So, don’t let 20 or 50 or 70 pages scare you away from taking on something really challenging but really rewarding. But when you set your mind to it, choose a topic you’re interested in. You will spend an entire year on it, no matter what you might think now, so settle in for that year with something you love. Be smart, be original and, most importantly, be you. Find your personal “Star Wars” and the pain and suffering will, as it turns out, be one of the most rewarding experiences of your academic career.