The layers of a master thesis

To say that two subjects overlap, when you think about – or in – art is not slightly close to what is really happening. The same goes for writing. And then comes academic writing with the dispassionate voice, the precise language, and the rigorous documentation. The overlapping subjects, the layers, for example of a master thesis must be laid out in the light and left there to dry. Nothing must show affection, though you are advised to choose a theme that intrigues you, at the least. (no footnotes here)

So, here I am: before sorting out my notes for the SAR conference, or the Flusser symposium, I threw myself into this new set of layers, my master thesis. My theme (no title yet) includes research about a woman whose only voice left is her friends’ book, and a note in the similar album belonging to her sister. She is the daughter, wife, and friend, of historical figures, these being artists, writers, publishers, etc. Clues: she was Dutch, from Haarlem, lived from 1846 to 1930.

Starting from the Leiden University Library, which preserves her album amicorum, I then started looking in archives, first in the online ones in order to see what is there. Some of them, like the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History), provide download and print options; as example, look at this image of a painting by Anna Veegens. Others, like the Leiden Archive (Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken), provide a detailed online inventory, which you can then physically access without complicated procedures. There, I found a photograph of my ‘Dora’, which I still have to double-check, as it is not sure it is really her picture. Yesterday, I found online her signature, on the wedding act of her daughter (in 1906). Further, I have planned a visit to the Haarlem archive, next week Tuesday. Today, I continue writing, and in the same time looking for, or requesting information. The thrill is growing.

In the meantime, I did appreciate a lot the keynote speech of Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, at the SAR conference, and her thoughts about the ‘humility of the footnote’ in opposition to the ‘posturing’ of the footnote; this, among many other interesting thoughts and statements. It was a full and exciting speech this one. (footnote: illustration 2)

The forum, about ‘writing and the art school’, somehow focused on master thesis writing by art students, was equally interesting. I appreciated the simplicity of their conversation language, and the sense of inclusiveness in their approach to academic writing. Now, I go exercise my ‘voices’. (footnote: illustration 1)

[for the period of writing about the thesis, I am thinking of making the blog reach more private, by limiting authomatic publishing to my fb atelier page only]

Forum: Writing and the Art School, with Kate Briggs and Daniela Cascella
Illustration 1: ‘Forum: Writing and the Art School’ with Kate Briggs and Daniela Cascella

 

Artists' (Academic) 'Writings in Academic, Artistic and Societal Force Fields' by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
Illustration 2: ‘Artists’ (Academic) ‘Writings in Academic, Artistic and Societal Force Fields’ by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
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