The vagina method of narrowing a thesis

Today I went hunting for influential works about death and dying on Amazon and got vagina-related deja vu again. Last time this happened I was reading hospice literature about rejecting the default role for dying people, and it was exactly like vaginal literature about rejecting the default role for women (or sexual beings, mothers, etc). Death is regularly compared to both birth and orgasm, so maybe my background in vaginas will be useful in more direct ways than I expected. Ha ha.

I joke about having a Bachelor of Vaginas, but I think I might start saying that more seriously. I did pretty extensive studying on the subject, but I’m starting to wonder if I may have also worked out a decent method for researching general, interdisciplinary sorts of topics, like vaginas or death. It makes me feel a little safer to realize I know how to choose books and papers to read, and how to make sense of them. Go team!

But more importantly (for me), All About My Vagina might be a workable machine for turning curiosity into thesis topics. As I’ve been telling more and more people about my indie thesis, I’ve become more and more aware of how painfully broad my topic idea is. What I want my death to be like, or how I’d like to deal with dying? That’s big, and too vague to be a real thesis topic. A book topic maybe, or a website topic, but not a new, exhaustive, academic contribution on a specific idea.

And yet, “all about my vagina” is exactly as big and fluffy a topic as this (I could call this project All About My Death, yes?) and I’ve managed to pull a specific area of expertise out of that website. Ask me sometime about women understanding ideal vulva shapes and forming body image in relation to their own childhood genitals.

I could write you 100 or more pages on it, with dozens and dozens of references including my own primary research. Except none of the primary research is actually rigorous, and I’ve never written out the whole document, because that’s not what I had planned to do with the vagina website. (What does a person plan to do with a vagina website? That’s funny.) So I think that project will stay a website, and not be any kind of thesis. But it could be, I think, in a pinch.

So here it is:

Method for turning curiosity into thesis topics using a vagina website.

  1. Post everything you know that is interesting or important
  2. Keep reading and investigating
  3. Post your new results and ideas
  4. People will ask you questions. A lot of them will be the same.
  5. Try to answer the questions. Research to find answers.
  6. Post the new results. Get more questions.
  7. Notice the things you can’t find answers to. They are thesis topics.

This strikes me as a Wisdom of Crowds type of method, where I’m kind of an aggregator. Hooray! I like thinking about complexity and information overload, and how generalists and interdisciplinary projects are useful to deal with that, so it’s kind of hilarious to see that it might work the other way, too. Complexity and crowd actions might be useful for dealing with generalism and interdisciplinary projects! (I only said kind of hilarious.)