Carnegie Mellon University

Laurnie Wilson

Laurnie WilsonMajors: Creative Writing and History
Minor: German
Adviser: Jane Bernstein
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Fiction and Photography: Narratives in the 21st Century

My objective for my senior thesis is to create a series of narratives that examine themes of growth and self-discovery, specifically from the perspective of a young woman. Despite advances in gender equality in the US, literature still lags behind in the number of female protagonists, often leaving female stories either to be told by men, or not at all. These stories of growth and change deserve to be told. To tell them, I will use both photographs and text. A series of visuals will accompany each text, working either to further illuminate themes in the written work, or reveal an additional storyline.

This project is important to me because it will allow me contribute a very necessary voice to my field. Although I cannot claim to speak for all women, I can at the very least, craft stories with which a greater number of women can identify and perhaps then be inspired to craft their own. I believe in empowerment from the ground up, and the possibility that a single story has to inspire a larger movement. This project will allow me to combine artistic mediums in a way that I have not yet been able to in my academic career. I would like my texts and visuals to push the boundaries of traditional storytelling, in order to incorporate a 21st century, multi-media perspective. I believe in the fluidity of the medium of writing and hope to find a way to balance its adaptation to modern, technological advances, while still retaining its timeless power.


If there is one thing in my life that I can always count on, it is the magical way in which flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, vanilla and oil come together to make the most delicious brownies, every single time. This is amazing to me, especially because this recipe is vegan. Trust me when I say, I was the first to be skeptical of the oh-so-mysterious vegan baking ways. However, two years ago, when I decided to adopt this lifestyle, I knew I could not live without my desserts. If I was going to cut out all animal products from my life, the least I could do was have a cookie or a piece of pie when I felt like it.

And so, I did research, I made plans, I set to work. I may not have found the best vegan brownie recipe in the world on the first try, but that didn’t stop me. I was determined. You may be reading this thinking, “Well, that seems like a lot of effort for a measly brownie.” But when you love to eat as much as I do, then no amount of effort is too much.
My idea of a perfect evening, any day of the week, will always include time to eat. Every day sounds like a good day for a little dinner adventure, even, and especially, when I am by myself. While I enjoy going out with my friends, there is something really liberating about going to eat alone.

In our society, many people feel uncomfortable going to a restaurant by alone because of the enormous importance we place on eating together in public. There seems to be this idea that eating out by oneself is somehow indicative of a generally lonely lifestyle, or perhaps evidence of indulgent or selfish behavior. I disagree. In fact, some of my best meals have been my dinner dates with me, myself, and I. Whenever I have eaten alone, I have had a greater opportunity to interact with my surroundings. I have had conversations with the waiter, and sometimes even been given an item “on the house,” for no reason at all. But, most importantly, I have found that eating alone allows me to reflect on my life, and sort out my priorities.

Too often, we mindlessly rush from one event to the next. But, when you spend time with yourself and resist the urge to pick up your cellphone whenever the waiter leaves the table, then you will become more observant not only of yourself, but of everyone around you.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I realize the importance of taking care of myself. Although sometimes it can feel as daunting as finding a trusty, vegan brownie recipe amidst the plethora of sources online, it is just as rewarding. There is nothing as comforting as knowing that I can make choices that will be good not only for me, but for everyone around me. Because what we often fail to realize, is that taking time for oneself, is in fact an act of generosity. And once we can be more generous with ourselves, then we can be more generous with others.

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Read Laurnie's blog