Posted by: kkhans | April 8, 2010

The Home Stretch

Time has just flown by- I can’t believe that at this time last year I was planning my research trip to Paris. And I really can’t believe that I will be turning in my thesis next Friday!


I forgot how time consuming it can be to edit, especially since I have never edited a 60-page paper.  Just reading the paper thoroughly will take me over an hour. Formatting footnotes and creating a bibliography always takes more time than you think. For me, I have the added challenge of some titles being in French and the others in English. I am so thankful that my advisor encouraged me to finish a draft early. She has also been extraordinarily helpful in the revising and editing process, reading countless drafts and answering questions. Even with a month to revise, I still have things to tinker with.

I am also thankful that overall writing a thesis has not been a stressful process for me. I have really enjoyed researching and writing. Amazingly enough I am not sick of my topic yet (like some thesis writers I know of). The most frustrating part is not having “down time” because there is always something that you can be working on to improve your thesis.

This part of the school year is my favorite. Spring has finally sprung, everyone is studying outside and talking long walks with friends. Seniors in particular are getting nostalgic. For me, I have some more opportunities to present about what I have been studying this past year. I am currently faced with the challenge of cutting my 60-page thesis down to 10 for a conference next weekend. I am also looking forward to attending a reception honoring the donors who made my research possible.

Posted by: kkhans | March 14, 2010

I can’t believe it, but I have written the first draft of my entire thesis! I had to go to the library to print off all 60 pages because I knew my ink cartridge wouldn’t last. It’s definitely satisfying to see all of my work printed out. While it was a relief to have the whole draft put together, I know that I still have a long way to go. As of this Tuesday, there is one month until I have to turn in the final draft of my thesis. I don’t know how this has crept up on me! Luckily, my advisor has been good about giving me flexible but realistic deadlines. We met over spring break and I now know exactly when I have to turn in my edits in order to finish on time.  It’s a good thing I like editing!

Posted by: kkhans | February 23, 2010

I have had the opportunity to present my thesis multiple times over the past week.  This has been an interesting experience for me. I only talk in depth about my thesis about once a week with my advisor. The rest of my time is devoted to reading and writing, I rarely talk about my thesis with my friends.

So, in preparing for my Honors Colloquium presentation, I took a lot of time trying to figure out how to explain my thesis to others. This process of taking a step back and thinking about my thesis as a whole was very useful. Particularly because most people attending the presentation have little or no knowledge of my topic, I had to consider how to clearly and concisely explain what I have been studying for over a year now. I found this preparation and presentation extremely useful.

After the Honors Colloquium, I was asked to present (in French) for a 300 level French class. This was exciting for me, particularly because I was a student in the same class two years ago. I spent more time encouraging students to do research and to write theses, and I showed more slides with images to help them visualize what performances were like in the 17th century. It took me a lot longer to get through the presentation in French, and it was a lot more tiring than speaking in English!

Finally, today I spoke on a panel for students considering writing an Honors Thesis. I really enjoy talking about my experience, and encouraging other students to do their own research. These three presentations were beneficial for me, and allowed me to take a step back and look at what I’ve accomplished over the past year.

Posted by: kkhans | February 2, 2010

I found it much easier to blog while I was in Paris because I thought people would find my research more interesting. But the process of research is also worth considering. Throughout high school and college, I have been good at picking paper topics, researching, and writing the paper. While I completed an “extended essay” in high school, I didn’t spend nearly as much time researching. Therefore, the long-term research involved in writing a thesis has been a new experience for me. Once I finish a book, there is always another waiting to be read.

When I began writing my proposal at this time last year, I thought I had a pretty good of idea of what my thesis would be. It was logical for me to combine performing arts, French and history. Some professors approved of the topic and before I knew it I was on my way to Paris. The evolution of my thesis has happened “organically.” I haven’t (yet) had a moment of total crisis where I totally changed my subject or anything like that. Rather by reading and learning more about the subject, I have followed my instincts about what interested me. Granted I have the help of my advisors and other professors whose advice and guidance has been invaluable.  I sort of just jumped into this whole Honors Thesis without really considering it, and so far it has been a wonderful experience.

I never would have found out so much about Beauchamps if his story hadn’t piqued my interest. Now I am moving away from Beauchamps to look at other seventeenth-century artists. Beauchamps was not the only person that was socially mobile or able to fashion his own identity. In fact, many other artists were doing the same thing. This was partially because Louis XIV was so involved in imposing his image and identity, and many artists were involved in that process. While Molière and Lully are two classic examples of artists (playwright and composer respectively) at this time period, I am also researching the landscape architect André Le Nôtre and sculptor François Girardon. Girardon and Le Nôtre both had extensive art collections, like Beauchamps, that portrayed their wealth and bon goût to the rest of society. There are many similarities between Le Nôtre and Beauchamps that suggest that social mobility was possible and that self-fashioning was used by artistic professionals. This new direction (I know nothing about landscape architecture or sculpture!) requires… more research! Hopefully I will know a lot more before the Honors Colloquium in a few weeks.

Posted by: kkhans | November 29, 2009

I have greatly neglected my blog this semester, but not for lack of progress with my thesis. At the end of the spring semester, I was introduced to a history professor who specializes in French History. He offered to give me permission for a senior seminar called Research Methods in the History Department. This class, in addition to my weekly meetings with my advisor, has been extremely helpful with the evolution of my thesis.

Through discussions with my advisor and in my Research Methods class, my topic has evolved. While I was in Paris this summer, I gathered as much information as possible about ballets in the seventeenth-century. However, I only had a tentative outline of my actual thesis. As I began to write at the end of the summer, one particular area kept grabbing my attention, causing me to ask questions. Pierre Beauchamps was the main choreographer at Louis XIV’s court, and has received little recognition, unlike his contemporaries, playwright Molière and composer Lully. This led me to question why so little is known about this man. While many authors mention Beauchamps’s name briefly, only two scholars have thoroughly researched his life. While these three scholarly articles provide a wealth of information about the details of Beauchamps’s life, they do not offer any analysis. Therefore, I am delving further into the research to draw conclusions about Beauchamps and his social role within the court as well as the group of professional dancers.

This evolution from political to social and micro history has come about naturally, and continues to pique my interest even after many months of research and writing. Writing a thesis really is a marathon, but if all goes according to plan I will have a draft of the thesis before Spring Break!

Posted by: kkhans | July 30, 2009

These past few weeks, I have made a shift from primary sources to theoretical texts. As my pile of books and list of books continue to grow, I’ve started to panic a little… But, after going over my pages of lists of books to read, my advisor helped me to pick out the most important texts I need to read before I start writing. The King’s Two Bodies by Kantorowicz, Discipline and Punish by Foucault, Le roi-machine by Apostolidès, Portrait du roi by Marin and The Court Society by Elias are the texts that always appear in the bibliographies of secondary sources. These are the core theoretical texts that I will use to analyze Louis XIV’s ballets. A little on the writing, I won’t be starting at the beginning. Rather, I will be picking a specific ballet to describe and then analyze using the above-mentioned texts. This will sort of be a trial, really rough draft of the writing process I will later use to apply to the other ballets I choose. It won’t be perfect, but it will (hopefully) give me a jumping off point and make me a little less scared about the 50 pages that lie ahead of me.

This past weekend, I watched Le roi danse or The King is Dancing, a French film from 2006. It is loosely based off of the book Lully ou le musicien du soleil. The choice of the title is therefore interesting, since the book and the film are about Louis XIV’s primary musician, Jean-Baptiste Lully. Obviously the king dances in the movie and that is an important element of the film. However, the film starts and ends with Lully, who is depicted as a homosexual, bizarre, somewhat crazy Italian that desperately wants to become French to impress the king.  I think this film would not be nearly as enjoyable without knowledge of the time period. The viewer is left to infer who the characters based off of slim clues. For example, Cardinal Mazarin appears in one scene, his name is not mentioned but he sits next to the queen and wears the customary red cardinal robes. Dates are given, but unless you know the history you wouldn’t understand the importance of Louis’ declaration that he alone will reign without a Prime Minister. Maybe the assumption is that the French are all well-versed in their history so no explanation or extra information is needed. Either way, it was enjoyable for me because I was not spoon-fed the information that I did, in fact, know. The scenes of dancing were particularly fascinating. As a visual learner, I love being able to visualize what the ballets would have looked like. Obviously I do not assume that the film is completely historically accurate, but the scenes are beautifully filmed, the sets and costumes magnificent.

Posted by: kkhans | July 7, 2009

Sorry for the delay in posting- I’m having trouble getting over the fact that sitting at home researching isn’t nearly as interesting as being in Paris! It seems like a dream that I was living and researching in Paris a month ago, I still can’t believe it.

Even though I’ve been home, the research continues… I’m always amazed at how long it takes to organize research and sources. Whenever I have to write a research paper, I forget how much time I need to leave to write the bibliography. I was lucky that in high school my teachers had us do research at the local college libraries. I learned MLA format, and had experience researching in collegiate libraries and writing lengthy papers before I arrived at college. I also already had created a personal note-taking system, which is always a big help.

Coincidentally, my final “extended essay” in high school combined the same subjects as my thesis now. Something about this time period really draws my interest. In high school, I wrote a history paper, technically…Really I researched the influence of Molière’s plays on seventeenth century society. I really wanted to write a French essay, but I settled for a French subject that also incorporated my interest in the performing arts. I find this “cultural studies” approach very appealing because it allows me to mélange or mix my varied interests into one project. I also think it’s important to look at history through different lenses, you can’t get a full view of the past without considering all the different elements that make history.

At the moment, I am continuing to read the ever-growing pile of books that relate to my subject. I have separate word documents for every day that I research. The notes are bulleted under the title of each book and the page is noted so that I can insert accurate footnotes when the time comes. Even with all my apparent organization, I have spent a lot of time compiling a list of books that I want to check out from Swem, books that I want to request on Interlibrary Loan, and books that I have read.  Hopefully, this will help me out in the long run! It’s also amazing how many books have been written on Louis XIV, but I guess I have to say stop at some point and realize that I can’t physically read every book.

Posted by: kkhans | June 3, 2009

While I’m on the metro and walking around, I love people watching…It’s so much more interesting in a huge city, the different people you see are just mindboggling. In Paris, no one looks at you funny if you’re alone. The French tend to be private people; they don’t have to have someone to walk with or someone to talk to on the phone 24/7. You often see people sitting alone at a café, eating, reading a book or people watching. No one looks down upon you because you don’t have anyone to eat with; in fact it is assumed that you have chosen to eat alone. The French, or really Parisians, must read so much more than the average American. Instead of sitting in cars, they sit on the metro or train and read. Of course some have iPods, but most of them just read… which is easy when it’s silent!

bench palais royal 

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Posted by: kkhans | June 2, 2009

Well I’m certainly getting into the “search” part of research. Some books that I think will be useful turn out to be worthless, but I guess I can’t be lucky all the time. For example, when I went to the Opéra site, I was excited to get a dossier, basically a folder with information, about the main choreographer of the court ballets. It arrived at my desk in a fancy folder with a large clasp; I opened it only to reveal one measly sheet of paper! However, it was worth going there just to be in the building. I had to ask about 6 different people where the library was, and when I finally found it you had to ring a bell to even get in. It’s in a gorgeous round room with large windows looking out on the city; there are these beautiful gold detailed pillars and paintings of dancers. There were actually (I’m pretty convinced) two dancers of the Paris ballet in there looking through old pictures and stuff, I assume for a ballet they’re reconstructing.

pretty window Read More…

Posted by: kkhans | May 28, 2009

Saturday, I took a bus tour to Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau with some friends from home who happened to be in Paris. Court ballets were performed at both châteaux, so it was both a fun and informative day.

Vaux Read More…

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