Christy1920
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So my teacher has told me that Revolutionary Road and The Beautiful and Damned would work well for my English dissertation? What is your thoughts, i have not read The Beautiful and Damned and slightly remember reading Revolutionary Road!!?! Do you think it would be okay!! I’m stressed and am on break now so can’t get any help and it has to be decided for when we go back!!
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Christy1920
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Help meeee
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Nihao_there
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Hi there,

I can see it’s a while since you posted this, but since you never got a reply I thought I’d try to help in case you still wanted it.

While I haven’t read either of the books in question, I think I might be able to offer you some general advice on the dissertation and choosing texts. Now, while the dissertation texts you choose have to have some reasonably strong literary content, apart from that I don’t think you can really say there is any set criteria for “books that work for a dissertation” and “books that won’t work”. You can, within reason, do next to anything so long as you’re capable of doing it well, which is a point I’ll get into in a minute.

One of the few things that I think strongly affect the suitability of a piece of literature is whether or not there is a wide body of response to and criticism of it, because you will need to try to engage with other people’s literary criticism of the text. If the book/author is reasonably well known or has won a major literary prize then you’re probably OK there, but it’s definitely a factor worth considering if not a be all and end all. For example, when I did my dissertation I wrote about Kenzaburo Oe’s The Silent Cry and Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. Both of these authors are well known and Nobel Prize winners, so I didn’t have undue difficulty finding literary criticism and quotes by the authors which I could weave into my own analysis. In contrast, one of my friends based their dissertation around Vernon Godlittle and We Need to Talk about Kevin, and they found it harder to find secondary sources with which to engage ( though I think they got a perfectly reasonable dissertation out of it nevertheless.

The most important thing to think about IMO with regards to these texts, however, is what youthink of them, not whether or not other people consider to be “good dissertation texts”. Do you really like the books? If “like” isn’t the right word, can you see yourself becoming deeply interested in them and the themes contained in them? You’re the one who is going to be spending at least twice as long on this dissertation as you probably think it will take, filling your books with like 35 sticky notes each to indicate anything that you might need and trying, desperately, to find the information needed to properly cite an academic text found with a limited page preview on Google Books. Do yourself a favour and make sure you pick something that you like, are committed to and care about, otherwise it’s not going to be much fun. I suggest you read both books before you decide anything, and if you’re not sure on themes/suitability/ideas then you could Google to see what other people have said about them. But if they don’t speak to you at all, go find something else that does even if you spend a lot of time doing it.

I did a complete U – turn on my original dissertation plan, didn’t use anything that I’d considered and read over the summer, and I think it was early October before I was sure what I was writing about (Thankfully my teachers were patient!). I naturally lost a lot of time there and ended up a little more rushed then ideal, but it was absolutely worth it because it meant that I ended up with books and a topic that I was really willing to put in the work to write about. If I’d stuck with my original line of thought, such as it was, I think I would have ended up resenting having to do all the work I did, and as well as working less efficiently it would have showed in my writing.

Basically, if you’re unsure about what to do for your dissertation, first consider topics, themes or even settings that interest you, then seek out and read books connected with them, and only pick your texts once you’ve read them first and formed an opinion. I know that’s a lot to do before the end of the holidays, but you really will thank yourself for it. If necessary, I think it would even be better (so long as there are no serious consequences), to miss the end of the holidays deadline it allowed you to find something you were really enthusiastic about. Please meet your deadline, but in the grand scheme of everything an irritated English teacher on the first day back will be less of a worry than being stuck with a topic you don’t like, or having to ask to change it later on (plus your attitude in class for the rest of the year will be noticeably better if you’re enthusiastic about what you’re studying).

I seem to have written you an essay (one of my problems always was high word count LOL), I hope that it’s useful and you have a successful dissertation.
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emmanadja
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Hi there,This is so random, but I just googled dissertation We Need To Talk About Kevin, and this came up! I am studying English, and I'm really keen to write about We Need To Talk About Kevin and The Wasp Factory with focus on murderous children for my dissertation, but I, like your friend, am really struggling to find literature about this topic, and also, an angle to use that will make sense of my English lit. studies.Do you know what your friends subject was, or how he managed to find literature?
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Parker Tracy
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(Original post by Christy1920)
So my teacher has told me that Revolutionary Road and The Beautiful and Damned would work well for my English dissertation? What is your thoughts, i have not read The Beautiful and Damned and slightly remember reading Revolutionary Road!!?! Do you think it would be okay!! I’m stressed and am on break now so can’t get any help and it has to be decided for when we go back!!
This may be late in the day, but yes, I think these are both topics about marriages disintegrating, which, on the surface appear to be 'perfect'
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