I recently audited a a course entitled “Marriage and the Movies” taught by a very robust and enthusiastic, and I’m pretty sure, unmarried professor. I loved the course as much as I loved the idea of studying movies like “The War of the Roses” for its subtext. The whole thing got me thinking about academia and the niche world of the PhD thesis. I, for one, can think of plenty of topics I’d like to put under a microscope and expound upon. “Embracing the Pottery Barn aesthetic in films for women” ; “Cheesecake in the kitchen: The subversive leitmotiv in The Golden Girls” and “Shucking and jiving: an in-depth look at Chris Tucker’s tribute to Stepinfetchit in Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3”. I could go on… However, my question for you Ratty is this, if you could write a thesis on something what would it be? What could you devote years of your life studying and later pontificating about?
This is my worst nightmare. Having to spend a good deal of time focusing on one subject. I can do that but only for like a week or so before something else interesting overtakes it. It’s a very crowded field, there’s too much to be fascinated by and it’s easier than ever to stumble upon fascinating things. If you are asking me what I’d do a thesis on TODAY I’d definitely say yoiks. They are songs sung by the Sami people of Northern Sweden. What struck me about it was this quote (in particular the parts I have highlighted):
“And we have this ancient way of singing, the yoik. The yoik is pentatonic, it can sound very monotonous, it doesn’t have a lot of words. It’s the way you sing just a few words that tells the story. We say that with a yoik, we don’t sing about a person, we sing the person. When the words are limited, it helps you express something. It’s for overwhelming feelings“.
Since learning about yoiks I have sung one under my breath whenever I get to the cookie aisle of the grocery store. It is one of the few spaces in my life where words are limited and where feelings are overwhelming. As part of my thesis I would like to travel to Northern Sweden and share my cookie yoik with them. Hopefully I’d become a minor celebrity there and appear on morning television and develop a small fanbase, maybe a Facebook page with a modest number of followers (2,000). It’d all be very 15 minutes of famey but that’d be fine.
“Y’know your grandpappy once had a celebrated Swedish cookie yoik, kids”.
“Is that true grandpa?”
“Is what true? Sorry, I wasn’t listening.”