Working on my senior thesis…by watching Marvel movies

This summer, I’ve spent a good chunk of time kicking back on the couch, pouring a scrumptious bowl of Cheez-Its, and watching movies with my friends. Sometimes there’s also ice cream involved. You may say, “Lily, why would you write about this? This is something we all do. Boring!” To which I say…yes, but for me, it counts as academic research.

I’m writing my senior thesis in American Studies on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the military-entertainment complex. Basically, when the military supports the entertainment industry to produce video games, music videos, and movies–that’s the military-entertainment complex. So, yes, the U.S. Department of Defense collaborated on multiple Marvel movies. And I’m going to write a sixty-page paper about it!

The first step in this process is to watch every single Marvel movie, even those that were not made in collaboration with the military. (Though I might want to ask the question: if you collaborate once, can you ever not collaborate? Read my forthcoming thesis to find out lol.)

My friends and I have developed some fool-proof research methodology. Basically, we all sit on the couch, and I wear an infrared head-lamp, which allows me to see the notes I’m taking without lighting up the whole room. My friends help by yelling, “Propaganda!” whenever they see something they think I ought to jot down. I know, I should pay them.

Oh, you didn’t know writing a thesis was a group thing? 

One of the coolest things about my major, American Studies, is how flexible the senior requirement is. There are three options: first, you can do a year-long paper or project. A paper is pretty self-explanatory, but a project could be a collection of short stories, a film, a podcast, a theatrical production–you name it. Secondly, you could do that in a shorter and more intense time window, as a semester-long endeavor. Thirdly, there are certain classes that will count as fulfilling the senior requirement, if you write an extended essay at the end of the semester. 

No one of these options is better than the other. In fact, what makes them great is that all three exist together–you can decide on an idea that is exciting and challenging to you, and then pick which framework best fits that idea. For me, it’s the first option, but I actively considered all three.

Ok, back to work! I’ve got thirteen more movies to watch!