Dmu17english
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Hey there.
Wanting some advice on my English literature dissertation. I am looking at 3 books and how they use mental health institutions as a tool of social conformity. I have no idea if I’m meant to be comparing these books or not? Can anyone explain how they structured their dissertations and if they did comparisons? I hope this makes sense

Thanks
From a very panicked student!
Last edited by Dmu17english; 1 year ago
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Parker Tracy
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There's no need to panic. First off, you should have a supervisor to talk this stuff over with. I think you ought to start with an outline with what you want to cover. I assume you've read the texts in order to have come up with this thesis topic, so you should have some broad ideas. Get those down on the page - focusing on one text at a time. Once you have done this, you will no doubt see that the texts do have some read across, so you will naturally be making comparisons in the course of writing the dissertation. Once you have your ideas (say a page of A4 for each text) now try and distil that down into an outline.

I don't know how long the dissertation is meant to be? From recollection, it's not that much (about 10K words or something?) Which means, you are essentially writing about 3K per text, plus intro and conclusion. So in your intro you'll set out the main themes you want to cover.
Let's suppose "Girl Interrupted" is text 1, and "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" is text 2. Chapter 1, you set out all your arguments in relation to 'Girl Interrupted". Now, we come onto Chapter 2, and you will be looking at essentially the same terrain, only in relation to a different novel. Naturally, you will be doing some call backs to chapter 1. Like this: "In "One Flew over the cuckoo's nest" the mental institution is a place of hostility where individual freedom is threatened. This is clearly in contrast to way that Kaysen presents the asylum, as a place where community thrives." And so on.

At the end, in your conclusion, you will pull out the main points of comparability and contrast, and point these up. Job done.
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