All But a Big Pile of Dirt

A thesis proposal is really hard to write. It feels like you have to have all the answers and like you’re stuck with whatever you write through the end of the project. Even if you know that’s not really how it works, it can feel that way. So yes, writing that proposal was one of the more stressful periods of this semester. But I did the thing.

Yesterday, I did another stressful thing. I successfully defended my thesis proposal.

what like it's hard

Really, it wasn’t so bad. My committee is awesome (thanks again, y’all) and they had really good ideas, suggestions, and all around thought provoking questions to offer. The biggest take away for me was an idea of the structure and presentation of my argument:

In 1992 (perhaps later, I still need to establish this date), a plaque was erected for a tree in Nana Rao Park. Why? The tree commemorates those who were executed by the British after the 1857 Mutiny because of actions they took, ordered by Nana Sahib — the same person the park is named for. Well, who was Nana Sahib? There’s also a statue of him in the park. He was one of the local leaders in the 1857 Freedom Struggle. Or was it a mutiny? It depends on who you ask. But why build these memorials in the first place? The answer is clear: to replace a memorial the British erected in the 1860s.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to say here, but you’d have to read my actual thesis for that. Before we get there though, here’re some more books for me to find and read:

  • The 1857 Indian Uprising and the British Empire by Jill C. Bender
  • A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek by Ari Kelman
  • More of Michel Foucault
  • More about tourism and imperialism

Beyond getting some more framework, this thing is ready to be written. Of course, that means more than just sitting down at a computer and typing. There’s the preliminary step of closely reading my primary sources and pulling quotes to make points. There’s the matter of figuring out the new deadlines for drafts and defending the real thing. But all of that falls under the umbrella of “dirt.” (No, not like Mary Douglas’s matter out of place.) As Mike likes to say, this thing is shovel ready and now I just need to move that big pile of dirt.


*For those of you who heard this post would be called “The Process,” don’t worry. That post is coming soon.