A Guide to Thesis Writing That Is a Guide to Life

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Media Outlet: The New Yorker

It’s worth thinking through Eco’s evocation of a “just society.” We might even think of the thesis, as Eco envisions it, as a formal version of the open-mindedness, care, rigor, and gusto with which we should greet every new day. It’s about committing oneself to a task that seems big and impossible. In the end, you won’t remember much beyond those final all-nighters, the gauche inside joke that sullies an acknowledgments page that only four human beings will ever read, the awkward photograph with your advisor at graduation. All that remains might be the sensation of handing your thesis to someone in the departmental office and then walking into a possibility-rich, almost-summer afternoon. It will be difficult to forget.  

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Hua Hsu is a New America fellow, working on a study of immigrant culture and American ideas around diversity. He is an associate professor at Vassar College, a contributor to the New Yorker, and an executive board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop.