As a graduation requirement for my degree (English Honours), I wrote an undergraduate thesis this semester. I put this off until the last possible semester, because I was terrified at the thought of writing something that was longer than anything I’d ever attempted.
To my surprise, the experience was … not bad.
My minor is in Political Science, and I wanted to figure out a way to combine the two disciplines into this project, but I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to write a paper that didn’t exactly fall under the “English Literature” category. However, I took a language course in the fall of 2016 (during the U.S. election), where we watched a number of political speeches to understand the power of rhetorical persuasion. I thought this was fascinating.
So, I approached that professor and asked her if she would be willing to be my thesis supervisor as I wanted to write on a similar topic – the rhetoric of political speeches. She said yes, but that I needed to narrow the topic down a lot.
Fast forward to this semester, and I decided to narrow it down by focusing on theimmigration rhetoric of Donald Trump and the “Alternative for Germany” party during their respective 2016 and 2017 national elections.
The subject matter was undoubtedly depressing, but I found myself enjoying the process of analyzing these speeches, understanding the rhetoric devices being utilized, and trying to figure out how these politicians were successful.
The oral defence turned out to be a lot of fun as well. It felt great discussing a topic where I was incredibly knowledgable, with two professors who were so engaged with something I’d written and what I had to say about it.
Overall, I’m glad I went through with it and wrote this thesis. It was difficult and overwhelming at the beginning (and middle … and end) but incredibly rewarding and a fitting end to my degree.