It’s actually Friday and I still don’t really have a thesis.

This week has been overwhelming. I picked a direction for my paper (studying Bach’s Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland) and expected starting research to be so much easier with a more focused, specific topic. WRONG! In the past, I have picked a direction for a paper, begun research, and then changed that direction and formed a thesis based on my findings. This time, however, I am struggling to do successful preliminary research without coming up with a thesis first. There is not a huge amount of scholarship on specific Bach cantatas, and so I have been wondering which elements I should focus on. I could look at the cantata as a genre through Nun Komm, I could focus on Bach and his relationship with this text/motivation for setting it/theological implications through the setting, or I could connect it more to Luther and his adaptation of the Latin Veni redemptor gentium. I have no idea at this point what will be most fruitful, interesting, and relatable to the class. I also wonder if there is some really really really cool lens with which to study the piece that I am just way too tired to think of.

I plan on doing a small amount of research in each of these directions to see what is least overwhelming and most possible/interesting. However, based on my findings about the specific piece, it looks as though most of my argument using Bach’s setting of Nun Komm itself will be my own analysis informed by more contextual and general research.

****EDIT: I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, but another option is comparing/contrasting Bach’s two settings of Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland and looking at how they evolved differently from Luther’s chorale/the original chant. So I’m going that direction for awhile. Yay.

One thought on “It’s actually Friday and I still don’t really have a thesis.

  1. A comparison makes sense, although it can get kind of big. I’d also encourage you to trust your own analytical skills and not worry about finding scholarship directly on this cantata. How have scholars analyzed *other* cantatas, and how can you apply the same kind of analysis/exegesis to Bach’s? You may find that knowing a little bit about the occasion for the cantata, Bach’s tendencies in setting scripture and other religious texts, and the expressive power of cantatas gives you enough to put forward an original argument about what this cantata means, even if scholars haven’t quite noticed what you notice. Trust your expertise!

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