thesisthesisthesis

writing the thesis presents issues of organization — do I approach it thematically, sandwiched between an introductory narrative & conclusion? or do I write chronologically & demonstrate my brilliance by weaving the themes into the narrative? the former is uninteresting; the latter runs the risk of incoherence or unnecessary reiteration.

whatever the case, I am so definitely opening with this paragraph:

In the Hikayat Abdullah, Munshi Abdullah tells a story about twenty-seven beautiful female slaves who fled from Sultan Hussein Shah’s well-stocked harem, materializing at the police office in a flustered and hysterical flock to lodge complaints of cruelty and abuse at the hands of their master. “One opened the clothes on her back to show the marks of the rattan cane, others had marks of having been hung up, others of burnings with pitch, others complained of being punished by fasting and nakedness”. John Crawford, the presiding Resident of Singapore, must have been a picture of incredulity. What did one do with twenty-seven vagrant women? After some deliberation, he made what was probably the only decision he could make in such circumstances: to “allow them to go where they liked: so some went with the policemen, some to the Klings, others to the Chinese, and a few of them to the houses of the Europeans, just wherever they could get food and clothing”.

The British Government, some seventy years later, would face the same dilemma, but this time, without the privilege of nonchalance.


3 responses to “thesisthesisthesis

  • inaesb

    I’ve never read Hikayat Abdullah but I remembered reading a little about Munshi Abdullah ages ago. I suppose it is now time to recatalogue my personal library and start surfing nostalgia. I remembered enjoying Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Ah….how each sentence begins with Maka…Maka…🙂

  • Kyle

    It’s a good opening paragraph. I hope (perhaps against hope) that, when you write the conclusion, it will still be as brilliant as it is now. But perhaps I am just projecting my own idiosyncrasies onto you😉

  • rAchel

    of course my ending will be as brilliant & stylish as the beginning. that’s just good form, is it not? — or perhaps I just share your idiosyncrasy, no need to project 🙂

    idiosyncrasy: in my first year at university I was so tortured etc with the epistemological problems of history that my tutor actually had to take me aside one day and say, “look, you can’t try and solve philosophical problems with every single paper.” it got ridiculous & neurotic at the stage where I started to feel like I could say nothing definitive about anything above the level of fact & feel like I was being truthful. now I have settled for closing my papers with some universal comment on truth, and sleep better for it.
    🙂

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