I am a member of the honors program at Liberty University (mostly because of the sweet scholarship that is tagged onto that affiliation), and the final project I was required to do to complete the program was a 25-page thesis on the topic of my choice.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if I had enough thoughts to even begin filling up 25 pages, but my friend and quad mate, Cortney Thomas, suggested that I address the moral and religious themes that are found in television shows, specifically those directed by Joss Whedon. He’s directed Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse (which is currently airing), and Firefly, among other things. The cool thing about finding moral/religious themes in Whedon’s shows is that you have to do some digging to find them. To borrow an over-used cliche, they are like diamonds in the rough: not easy to find, but totally worth it when they are found.
I wrote the three-page proposal for my thesis the spring of my junior year (2009) and put together a board of professors who would guide me through the writing process. I chose Dr. Beavers (who I had for COMS 210 my sophomore year), Mrs. Bonebright (my COMS 220 teacher from sophomore year), and Dr. Snead (a history teacher who was recommended to me by a good friend). After getting it approved by them and by the honors program director, I was good to go. I had a whole summer to get a good chunk of this thesis out of the way before I started my last semester of school.
I watched Whedon’s TV shows, chronicled sources, and read books analyzing the themes in Whedon’s work all summer while I was interning at the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. I knocked out about 15 pages before the school year began, and finished the last 10 before the first deadline of September 14.
After that, I sang to the tune of revision, revision, revision. Because I have been writing for the Champion (Liberty’s school newspaper) for the past three semesters, I had conformed to one style of writing (super-short paragraphs and lots of direct quotes) when I needed to be writing in English essay form (looooooooong paragraphs and paraphrasing). This was pretty discouraging at times, especially when I had regular schoolwork and responsibilities at the Champion piling up, too. Some all-nighters were pulled, some energy drinks were drunk, and I almost quit a couple times. But with the encouragement of my thesis chair, my two readers, my friends, and the Lord, I stuck with it.
On November 30, I turned in the final copy of my thesis to the honors office, complete with signature pages from my chair and readers, approving my paper for online and print publication. I must be a nerd, because I was shaking as I was printing the thing out on the Champion printer. I couldn’t believe that it was finally done, after having worked on it for more than six months. After turning it in, I received a certificate from my honors teacher that made it official: I’m completely finished!
I won’t be getting the bound copy of my thesis until February of next year, but in the meantime, Liberty’s online archive site, Digital Commons, published my thesis alongside the many others that have been written throughout the years. Here is the link: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/honors/98/
Overall, I am so excited and relieved for this thesis to be done. It was definitely a pain at times, but it was definitely worth it. If you ever get bored enough to read all the way through a 25-page paper about science fiction television shows, let me know what you think. 🙂
~ no holds barred ~