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Senior Thesis Princeton

March 3rd, 2017


It's that time of year again, when seniors withdraw into the depths of libraries and their dorm rooms to complete perhaps the most exhaustive and nuanced endeavor that they will undertake during their Princeton careers: the senior thesis. For months, these students have been conducting research, building, performing, interviewing, and writing these capstone projects that are often mysteries to underclassmen. To get an idea of what these students have been spending hours and hours on, the Street interviewed three seniors, Dylan Blau Edelstein ’17, former Street editor Harrison Blackman ’17, and Daniel Teehan ’17. All of the seniors are AB students; Edelstein is concentrating in Spanish & Portuguese, Blackman in History, and Teehan in Comparative Literature.

The Daily Princetonian: If you could pitch your thesis, how would you describe it?


Dylan Blau Edelstein: My thesis is about the legacy of Nise da Silveira, a pioneering art therapist and psychiatrist in Brazil during the 1940’s. At a time when people were turning to lobotomy and electroshock therapy, she led painting workshops at a mental hospital for her patients, whom she referred to as “clients.” Many of them hadn’t spoken in years, and were deemed lost causes by the institution. But in these workshops, the clients not only gained access to language through images, but also went on to become some of the most famous painters in Brazil at that time.
Silveira died in 1999, so for my research last summer I interviewed people who knew her, and visited sites of various projects she started. Through that process, I am envisioning my thesis as a sort of collective memory. I wanted to look at what we can learn from her, what she means for a country like Brazil that was a pioneer in the anti-asylum movement, and what it means to humanize people who have been locked up for years in a hospital. Silveira published a number of books that were never translated into English, so I also saw this as an opportunity to create some English scholarship about her.
Read about more interviews here.

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