l3igh25
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Im trying to decide on books and topics to write my dissertation on but im struggling so far. Ive thought of a few ideas but I'm not sure if they are suitable enough.

1. The loss of childhood innocence - focussing on Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but I'm not sure what other novels to choose even though this is my prefferer topic of writing.

2 The conflict between religion and knowledge, the idea that faith in god is rooted in ignorance of truth - focussing on the Da Vinci Code and The Northern Lights (Also known as The Golden Compass)

3 WW2 effects (mainly children and society) - focussing on The Book Thief, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Anne Frank's Diary and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

4. How illness can change the way one thinks - focussing on The Fault in Our Stars and My Sister's Keeper.

I am unsure as to what topic to persue and need a little help choosing. What is your opinions on these topics? And any book suggestions will be fantastic. Thank you
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(Original post by l3igh25)
Im trying to decide on books and topics to write my dissertation on but im struggling so far. Ive thought of a few ideas but I'm not sure if they are suitable enough.

1. The loss of childhood innocence - focussing on Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but I'm not sure what other novels to choose even though this is my prefferer topic of writing.

2 The conflict between religion and knowledge, the idea that faith in god is rooted in ignorance of truth - focussing on the Da Vinci Code and The Northern Lights (Also known as The Golden Compass)

3 WW2 effects (mainly children and society) - focussing on The Book Thief, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Anne Frank's Diary and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

4. How illness can change the way one thinks - focussing on The Fault in Our Stars and My Sister's Keeper.

I am unsure as to what topic to persue and need a little help choosing. What is your opinions on these topics? And any book suggestions will be fantastic. Thank you
These are very different books and themes. I'd do what interests me the most. Also, number 4 sounds a little clinical as opposed to literary unless you discussed the gradual downfall of the narrator etc.
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Claire__
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(Original post by l3igh25)
Im trying to decide on books and topics to write my dissertation on but im struggling so far. Ive thought of a few ideas but I'm not sure if they are suitable enough.

1. The loss of childhood innocence - focussing on Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but I'm not sure what other novels to choose even though this is my prefferer topic of writing.

2 The conflict between religion and knowledge, the idea that faith in god is rooted in ignorance of truth - focussing on the Da Vinci Code and The Northern Lights (Also known as The Golden Compass)

3 WW2 effects (mainly children and society) - focussing on The Book Thief, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Anne Frank's Diary and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

4. How illness can change the way one thinks - focussing on The Fault in Our Stars and My Sister's Keeper.

I am unsure as to what topic to persue and need a little help choosing. What is your opinions on these topics? And any book suggestions will be fantastic. Thank you
I'd rule out 4 immediately as although I love John Green, that book just isn't literary enough to write a dissertation(same with My Sister's Keeper too, actually). A marker just isn't going to view it highly. You can do modern texts, but avoid young adult and children's as the writing is... different.

Loss of childhood innocence is a good idea. Lord of The Flies comes to mind and it's really really great. Remember-if my teachers are to be trusted???- you can compare different mediums, so a poem like 'Revelation' by Liz Lochhead deals with that theme. But Lord of The Flies definitely as it's literally all about a bunch of kids completely losing their innocence by realising the evil within mankind. And maybe this is just a shot in the dark but Lolita about innocent child vs girl who actually knows what she is doing? In terms of ideas for texts it's definitely the strongest of the four although I like the 4 topics, it's just the books you've mentioned aren't particularly dissertation worthy.

2&3 as mentioned above include children's books(northern lights and the boy in the striped pyjamas and the book thief) which are less literary and less analysable.

2 is a good idea but there are definitely better books out there to look at for the theme.

3 again is a really good topic but there's an extensive amount of WW2 fiction that is on offer and is definitely more appropriate for a dissertation than some of your picks.

The problem with 4 is just that in that particular genre of fiction novels tend to be either YA or chick-lit, two genres that the markers won't agree with and won't think are complex enough to write a dissertation on. If you're still on the idea of 'illness' though, mental illness might be the way to go(from modern things like fight club to much older novels too) as there's no end to 'literary' books about that.
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Claire__
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(Original post by Claire__)
I'd rule out 4 immediately as although I love John Green, that book just isn't literary enough to write a dissertation(same with My Sister's Keeper too, actually). A marker just isn't going to view it highly. You can do modern texts, but avoid young adult and children's as the writing is... different.

Loss of childhood innocence is a good idea. Lord of The Flies comes to mind and it's really really great. Remember-if my teachers are to be trusted???- you can compare different mediums, so a poem like 'Revelation' by Liz Lochhead deals with that theme. But Lord of The Flies definitely as it's literally all about a bunch of kids completely losing their innocence by realising the evil within mankind. And maybe this is just a shot in the dark but Lolita about innocent child vs girl who actually knows what she is doing? In terms of ideas for texts it's definitely the strongest of the four although I like the 4 topics, it's just the books you've mentioned aren't particularly dissertation worthy.

2&3 as mentioned above include children's books(northern lights and the boy in the striped pyjamas and the book thief) which are less literary and less analysable.

2 is a good idea but there are definitely better books out there to look at for the theme.

3 again is a really good topic but there's an extensive amount of WW2 fiction that is on offer and is definitely more appropriate for a dissertation than some of your picks.

The problem with 4 is just that in that particular genre of fiction novels tend to be either YA or chick-lit, two genres that the markers won't agree with and won't think are complex enough to write a dissertation on. If you're still on the idea of 'illness' though, mental illness might be the way to go(from modern things like fight club to much older novels too) as there's no end to 'literary' books about that.

OH OH OH and for the first one, 'The Virgin Suicides' might be worth a go as it kind of looks into innocence VS. more grown up things(like there's imagery of a bra on the crucifix which is really really symbolic and stuff and there are things you could analyse there
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l3igh25
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(Original post by Claire__)
OH OH OH and for the first one, 'The Virgin Suicides' might be worth a go as it kind of looks into innocence VS. more grown up things(like there's imagery of a bra on the crucifix which is really really symbolic and stuff and there are things you could analyse there
Thank you, this has been so helpful. my prefered topic is the loss of childhood innocence and I had previsouly thought of using The Lord of the Flies too. Its taken me so long to figure out what to do so thank you for the help
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Claire__
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(Original post by l3igh25)
Thank you, this has been so helpful. my prefered topic is the loss of childhood innocence and I had previsouly thought of using The Lord of the Flies too. Its taken me so long to figure out what to do so thank you for the help
Lord of The Flies is great, I did it for Int 2 aha I mentioned it above but if your teacher wants a third, The Virgin Suicides is great. It's kind of about how childhood ISN'T innocent like the first sister attempts suicide and the doctor is like 'you have no reason to' or something like that and she replies with 'Obviously, you've never been a thirteen year old girl'.

Do you know what books your class is doing for the literary section?
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zoe.clack
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how about the handmaids tail for the knowledge and religion one? by margaret atwood. Its a book about a dystopian theocracy- so that would give you your religion side and the women are not allowed any jobs, money or allowed to read- so not able to gain much knowledge. Just finished reading it for my theme of the effects of oppression on women and its a really good book
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Claire__
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(Original post by zoe.clack)
how about the handmaids tail for the knowledge and religion one? by margaret atwood. Its a book about a dystopian theocracy- so that would give you your religion side and the women are not allowed any jobs, money or allowed to read- so not able to gain much knowledge. Just finished reading it for my theme of the effects of oppression on women and its a really good book
^You'd obviously not be able to do it if you're studying Atwood in the lit section(like my class aha), but if not definitely.
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DylanJ96
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The SQA Advanced Higher English markers tend to be literary snobs so I wouldn't stray from the classics if I were you.
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Claire__
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The SQA Advanced Higher English markers tend to be literary snobs so I wouldn't stray from the classics if I were you.
Not necessarily. As long as you choose really really literary texts then more contemporary stuff is completely fine. You do have to choose texts that you can analyse in great depth so no mainstream fiction or like YA, but more modern literary stuff is totally fine.
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DylanJ96
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(Original post by Claire__)
Not necessarily. As long as you choose really really literary texts then more contemporary stuff is completely fine. You do have to choose texts that you can analyse in great depth so no mainstream fiction or like YA, but more modern literary stuff is totally fine.
It depends how modern, I think post-Brideshead then it's getting a little risky unless it's a modern classic like Beloved or something. Well that's the advice I got and my teacher was an AH English marker.
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(Original post by DylanJ96)
It depends how modern, I think post-Brideshead then it's getting a little risky unless it's a modern classic like Beloved or something. Well that's the advice I got and my teacher was an AH English marker.
Both my AH teachers(one of which is the department head, I'll add) said modern was fine and sometimes even better, because you're the source of any information on it and you can interpret it completely without any bias towards what other people have said about the texts. (Not that I'm going modern with my original idea Les Mis and Dorian Gray but oh well, but if I find something I can compare with The Virgin Suicides I might be tempted).

The amount of times I've heard my English teachers saying "look at the recent literary prize winners" and stuff like that is innumerable. Something different is probably going to be welcomed.

The REAL advice is to avoid the cliché dissertations unless you've got a new twist on it. No 'ladies who lunch'(i.e. Jane Austen), no Brave New World compared to 1984 compared to Fahrenheit 451, no 'The Bell Jar' compared to whatever other cliché mental illness texts it's usually compared to. Done to death, nothing new; those are the dissertations that are going to hinder your chances of a good grade.
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DylanJ96
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(Original post by Claire__)
Both my AH teachers(one of which is the department head, I'll add) said modern was fine and sometimes even better, because you're the source of any information on it and you can interpret it completely without any bias towards what other people have said about the texts. (Not that I'm going modern with my original idea Les Mis and Dorian Gray but oh well, but if I find something I can compare with The Virgin Suicides I might be tempted).

The amount of times I've heard my English teachers saying "look at the recent literary prize winners" and stuff like that is innumerable. Something different is probably going to be welcomed.

The REAL advice is to avoid the cliché dissertations unless you've got a new twist on it. No 'ladies who lunch'(i.e. Jane Austen), no Brave New World compared to 1984 compared to Fahrenheit 451, no 'The Bell Jar' compared to whatever other cliché mental illness texts it's usually compared to. Done to death, nothing new; those are the dissertations that are going to hinder your chances of a good grade.
Every teacher in my school's English department (one of the highest achieving in the country, I'll add) warned against using modern texts as they often don't have enough in them to get a good quality dissertation from and other AH markers tend to prefer the classics for these things which is what I was told by my teacher, an experienced AH marker for years.

I did make an exception for really good modern literature (for example Beloved, like I said) because these works can be just as good. It's simply better to go with the classics for an AH English dissertation.
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Claire__
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(Original post by DylanJ96)
Every teacher in my school's English department (one of the highest achieving in the country, I'll add) warned against using modern texts as they often don't have enough in them to get a good quality dissertation from and other AH markers tend to prefer the classics for these things which is what I was told by my teacher, an experienced AH marker for years.

I did make an exception for really good modern literature (for example Beloved, like I said) because these works can be just as good. It's simply better to go with the classics for an AH English dissertation.
Obviously the modern texts would have to be of an extremely high quality but it's not enough to say 'avoid them at all costs'. If you're willing to put in more work then modern LITERARY works are fine.

Someone in my class is doing Fight Club which was totally approved by the teacher as long as she did two other texts with it, not just one. Someone considering dystopian/apocalypse type stuff was given suggestions of modern literary texts. Some of the best books ever were written more recently and aren't classics, so I'm not exactly a fan of the notion that newer texts are always going to be less well written.

The best advice is to go with something you're going to enjoy. If you choose something dull and boring then you're in for a pretty awful year.
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AquaDuck
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Hi there! I studied Advanced Higher English this year - and I got an A (36/40 for my dissertation too!!) I'm happy to help you out if you'd like

In choosing a topic for your dissertation, it's very important to choose something you're going to enjoy and won't mind looking at near enough every day, especially as the deadline approaches! But it's about balance too. My teacher had kindly informed me that somebody in my city that marks dissertations always has a preference for more 'classic' texts. So I had to choose wisely. However, where you're from, the scenario may be entirely different and more contemporary texts may be alright. What the most important thing is though, is making sure that your chosen texts are at a suitable level for study at Advanced Higher level.

All of the topics you've listed look fine, especially the first one. In fact, The Catcher in the Rye comes to mind when I think of the loss of childhood innocence, especially in Holden Caulfield's case. As for the last one, you would need to choose your texts wisely. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a particular novel that caught my attention when thinking of illness - that is, if you wanted to delve into the mental illness side of things.

Also, I know you seem pretty set on what your topic is, but in order to avoid it being compared to many other dissertations that may be tackling the same texts, you may find yourself narrowing down what it is exactly you're studying within the frame of childhood innocence. A lot of people I knew were studying women's rights or women in general in their dissertations and so I knew to avoid it (not in a negative sense, but to increase my chances of getting a better mark through originality.)

So that's all I really have to add as advice for you. For my dissertation, I looked at The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye. I was fascinated with American Literature and so I wanted to study how the American Dream was negatively portrayed in both of these texts, mainly by analyzing their protagonists and how they both fell short of their dreams/the world failed them. At the time I was unaware of how often the topic may have been studied, but it was what interested me so going back to my first point:

Go with what interests you!

Hope this was of some help
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Emily566211
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Hello everyone !
this year I'm also doing AH English! how did you all get on in the exam?
we're studying Plath poetry too, and Shakespeare for novels!
dissertation seems like it could be brutal. My teacher who's wife is a marker said to go for maybe an overlooked novel of a writer who's other books are considered classics, which I thought was great advice.
were encouraged to do 3 novels , anyone else :/?
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(Original post by Emily566211)
Hello everyone !
this year I'm also doing AH English! how did you all get on in the exam?
we're studying Plath poetry too, and Shakespeare for novels!
dissertation seems like it could be brutal. My teacher who's wife is a marker said to go for maybe an overlooked novel of a writer who's other books are considered classics, which I thought was great advice.
were encouraged to do 3 novels , anyone else :/?
:curious:
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(Original post by DylanJ96)
Every teacher in my school's English department (one of the highest achieving in the country, I'll add) warned against using modern texts as they often don't have enough in them to get a good quality dissertation from and other AH markers tend to prefer the classics for these things which is what I was told by my teacher, an experienced AH marker for years.

(Original post by Claire__)
Obviously the modern texts would have to be of an extremely high quality but it's not enough to say 'avoid them at all costs'. If you're willing to put in more work then modern LITERARY works are fine.

Someone in my class is doing Fight Club which was totally approved by the teacher as long as she did two other texts with it, not just one. Someone considering dystopian/apocalypse type stuff was given suggestions of modern literary texts. Some of the best books ever were written more recently and aren't classics, so I'm not exactly a fan of the notion that newer texts are always going to be less well written.

The best advice is to go with something you're going to enjoy. If you choose something dull and boring then you're in for a pretty awful year.
Wonderful advice. Years ago, I wish I had the common sense to do something that I enjoyed.

All in all, there's no problem in doing modern literature. Of course, it depends on the standard of modern literature if you will. That said, it's true that classics are easier and safer to do as they are established and have plentiful of research on them, but if you're truly passionate about modern literature, examiners wouldn't dare discriminate.

Having experienced high school and now, university, I realise that my sense of originality and uniqueness have always been encouraged the most. So, do what you're passionate about.

On a side note, this is something that I've learned: sometimes the thing that you're passionate about can be too ambitious; there's no humility in doing something a little easier. You can put your own original spin on it. Remember that we all have unique perspectives of the world and so, the angle in which you look at Romeo and Juliet, for example, might greatly differ from my own.

At university, there have been times when I wanted to do a topic that was so, so overly ambitious even though I was immensely busy with a lot of things. I maybe could have done it if I worked my utmost hardest but I didn't have the time or the energy. So, instead, I went with something else that I was interested in and knew was definitely safer and I did my best on that and my markers treated it like the new best thing since sliced bread!

Be smart about your work and the time and effort you put into things. Balance is very, very important.
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arcticcmonkeys
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Hi everyone. For my dissertation I'm looking at anti-war novels such as Catch 22, All Quiet on the Western Front, Sophie's Choice and Heart of Darkness. I was wondering what a suitable question would be and any particular areas I should focus on? Thank you for any help
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AmisThysia
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Sometimes selecting a text that contradicts your other texts, or agrees but from a different angle, can work wonders.
Speaking from my own experience (forgive the longwindedness): for my dissertation I looked at how the authors explored the necessity of a balanced society around us for the maintenance of decent behaviour. Not exactly a purely original topic, but I tried to look at it in a new way by making "balanced" the key word - I used Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies as standard texts for that topic, but then selected 1984 as my third text. I argued that 1984 essentially makes the same point, but from the opposite direction - while the first two texts show how removing civilised society leads to a degradation in decency of behaviour, 1984 shows that by increasing the strictness of social boundaries the same effect can occur (Winston's rebellion, gross by his own society's judgement, as well as the behaviour of the Proles, basically - I won't prattle on too long). Therefore, a balance between an anarchistic lack of social boundaries and a totalitarian excess of social boundaries both lead to a disintegration of our basic moral decency.
In a similar way, I think you could do something like The Handmaid's Tale with "loss of childhood innocence". You could look at how the "loss of childhood innocence" is often incomplete, and while we view the more cynical approach we take as adults as somehow sullied in comparison to that innocence, in reality we are still so very innocent and ignorant, taking so much for granted. That's a key theme in The Handmaid's Tale. I'm just spitballing here, but you see what I mean - your three texts can actually sort of disagree, as long as you can craft a strong argument out of them, and it gives it a much more original flavour.
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