Deciding on a dissertation title has been a very stressful and, safe to say a confusing decision.
For my original idea, I wanted to study fairy tales in depth, but in particular how they were not written for children. As a child, everyone reads, or is read, fairy tales, and yet the tales written by the Grimm brothers were violent stories. In Cinderella for example, the ugly sisters have to cut off their toes and heels to try to get their foot into Cinderella’s shoe; disturbing, right? I also would have liked to look at the role of the woman in fairy tales and compare the passive woman to the active woman; Sleeping Beauty and Snow White barely do anything in their stories, they just sleep. And yet why are many of the villains women? Think about it; hags, step-mothers, step-sisters, witches, etc. What was the purpose of using a woman instead of a man to be the villain? I loved this idea of studying fairy stories and why they were written. However…it would have been difficult to study them considering many of them were written in different language, and the stories I would have studied are translations; they are not original material. So that was Idea Number 1 scrubbed off the list.
My other idea was studying post-modern texts that were set during the war, for example novels such as Ian McEwan’s Atonement. One of my all time favourite books that was written in 2006 but set during the First World War. However I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to focus my argument and so the title was too broad. Idea Number 2 is gone.
The idea I finally chose as my second, or backup, proposal is the use of rain, or weather in general, and its meaning in World War literature, otherwise broadly known as pathetic fallacy. Before the war, rain often symbolised new life, fertility and growth and yet after the war, rain symbolised death, pain and sadness. What was it about the war that made us think differently about rain and its meaning? This idea really interested me, although I’m still unsure as to what texts I would use.
The idea I FINALLY picked is one that I think could prove to be an amazing dissertation piece. I want to study an autobiographical approach to both Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath’s writing, and how their own experiences of bipolar and depression affected their writing. I know for a fact I would study The Bell Jar for Plath, as it is about a young girl who struggles with her mental health and in the end (warning: spoiler alert) commits suicide after she is put into a mental asylum. Plath’s own life was very similar and I’m very interested in the connection between writer and character. In terms of Woolf’s literature, Mrs Dalloway would be a very interesting pick, but I haven’t actually had the chance to read that one yet! Definitely one to read over my summer break.
I can’t believe I’ll be going into my third year soon and am planning my dissertation research already but I’m so excited to get it started soon! x