December 17, 2021 | NEWS | By Iona Ellsworth | Photo courtesy of Annie Knight

While the majority of Colorado College students see the arrival of winter break as an opportunity to completely relax and decompress from the Block Plan, many seniors are feeling the pressure of upcoming thesis blocks and deadlines in the spring semester.

Overall, seniors are excited — if a little nervous — about their individual projects. Annie Knight ’22 (pictured above), a film major, is preparing to shoot a film called “Spirit Day” along with their partners, Greg Shea ’22 and Calvin Tafel ’22.

“[The film] follows Frankie, who is a lonely middle schooler as they go about picking an outfit for a dress-up day at school with the help of their imaginary friend, Mac,” Knight said.

“Spirit Day” will focus on questions of gender presentation and identity. Working on it has been a profound and personal experience for the filmmakers.

“It’s altered our perceptions of ourselves,” Knight said. “It’s extremely personal to all of us.”

Gray Cullen ’22 is equally enthusiastic about his particular areas of focus. As a double English and economics major, Cullen has two theses he is currently working on, both investigating the effects of marketing.

Photo courtesy of Gray Cullen ’22

For his English thesis, Cullen is writing about “The Great Gatsby.”

“I’m arguing that we can learn a lot from a marketing perspective from Gatsby and that, while he may not have been a good salesman, he was a good marketer.”

For his economics thesis, Cullen is turning his attention to politics.

“The other thesis I’m working on is about whether or not advertising really works,” Cullen said. “I’m looking at in the context of political campaigns, [asking the question]: does advertising convert to actual votes and winning campaigns?”

Manuel Alexis Uribe ’22, is researching an entirely different culture for his Romance Language major.

“My thesis is about representations of the devil in Brazilian queer art — specifically, drag art” Uribe said. “I’m focusing on one artist, Urias [who] is a singer, dancer, and model.”

Uribe’s thesis will be written entirely in Portugese, a language he started learning only three years ago. “I’m thinking of getting a master’s in interpretation,” Uribe said.

Each department is a little different, with certain majors allotting less time than others for seniors to prepare for the project that will culminate their four years at CC. Knight spoke about the logistics of planning a large-scale creative project on the Block Plan.

“I personally think the film department should require two thesis blocks,” Knight said. “I only have one thesis block so 90% of my thesis work is going to be done before I even get that block. Having to do that on top of my schoolwork becomes [almost like] an extra-curricular.”

Knight has suggestions for adjustments the film department might consider in order to better support seniors.

“They require us to go to department screenings and turn in a reference journal,” Knight said. “It feels like they’re piling on a lot of things that we could’ve done when we were juniors instead of trying to squeeze them in with thesis.”

For his part, Cullen feels adequately supported by both of his departments. His economics advisor is more involved, while his English advisor has taken more of a back-seat approach.

“I like both [approaches] because for econ I need the aggressiveness,” said Cullen. “[Whereas] for English, it’s nice to have it if I want.”

Uribe is grateful for the support he has received from his advisor.

“Being able to pick apart [Uria’s music video with] my advisor and digging into what the devil means has been really exciting,” said Uribe.

All three seniors had different advice for future thesis-writers. “I suggest not to have back-to-back thesis blocks because you want to have time between each,” said Cullen.

“Make something you really want to make,” Knight said. “And ask for help. My most helpful resources are CC grads who made theses. No one is upset when you reach out to them — they want to help you.”

“Get started early,” Uribe said. “Give [yourself] the space, because [writing a thesis] is a big thing, it’s not something you can realistically get done in a block or two.”

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