PDP Constellation and the Dissertation Process

Throughout my time at university I have often struggled to see how Constellation was relevant to my subject, Textiles. However, when I came to select my first Constellation option by Cath Davies “Smells like Teen Spirit,” I began to really enjoy this part of the course as it was something different from what I was doing in textiles. Though sometimes I still felt that it didn’t relate to what I was doing in Textiles, I enjoyed the lectures and concepts discussed. I went on to select Cath’s module in year two, “Goddesses and Monsters: Glamour and the Grotesque in Visual Culture,” the main idea which intrigued me in this module was the idea that femininity was a constructed notion. This was not something that I had researched before and the interest lead me to write about femininity in my dissertation. I also appreciated how Cath prepared us for writing essays. We were encouraged to analyse imagery using a column system which broke down the essay into smaller fragments. I studied English Literature and also Psychology at A Level so I was used to writing essays before starting university but it is not a strength of mine, so this was very helpful and made writing the essays less daunting.

When I look back over my journey of writing my dissertation, I feel that it has been a lot less of a struggle than I had originally thought. At the beginning of the process, I was quite apprehensive of the idea of writing an academic essay with a word limit of 10,000 words. The thing I struggled with most during the process was dedicating time specifically for my dissertation. I am a slow reader so needed to give myself a couple of days a week at least, in order to get through the books that I accumulated which related to my topic. However, I often put this off and decided to focus on my subject work instead. This was one of my biggest mistakes. During the process I learnt that I needed to balance my time. I feel that this was something which I achieved. I knew that I needed to complete a lot of the work over Christmas in order to have enough time to edit my dissertation.

I have been surprised by how interested I have been in my topic, for the most part, the research and reading has not felt like a task and I have really enjoyed it. I found that some of the books I read at the start were not completely relevant but soon found the specific areas which interested me and which I wanted to include in my dissertation.

I was left feeling quite disheartened after receiving my feedback from my dissertation proposal in second year. I felt that I had worked really hard on it and didn’t get the feedback I had wanted. However, looking back on my original proposal I can see that the feedback was fair and I had not been as clear and concise about my ideas, I had also not done enough reading in preparation for it. I feel that this feedback gave me a boost as I knew I needed to work harder if I wanted an overall better grade at the end of the process.

One thing I worried about during the writing of my dissertation is that my topic wasn’t really related to my subject of textiles, though tutors assured me that this didn’t matter, I felt that if I had a topic which I could relate more to my practice I could link in my research from my dissertation to my final major project in textiles. Though my chosen dissertation topic didn’t relate obviously to my practice, I think that constellation has helped me in my subject and field in other ways, including being more articulate when discussing my own work. Through the three years I have learnt skills in analysing imagery which has therefore helped me to analyse my own work. One way my dissertation has influenced my subject is that my investigation into how body types and ideals changed throughout time has inspired me to investigate how textiles has been changed due to events throughout time, including World War Two.

The main reason I decided to choose my topic about Body Image and the media is that I knew there was a lot I could read up on about it. I am not ashamed to say I wanted to make the process as easy for myself as I possibly could. As I have said previously, I don’t feel that academic writing is one of my strengths so I wanted to ensure I wasn’t worried about not finding enough material. I feel that I would have struggled a lot more if there wasn’t a lot of academic writing I could use for reading and researching whilst having to balance my time with projects in subject.

I feel proud that I have managed to complete this dissertation, as there were definitely times when I thought it wasn’t going to happen. I think these were more personal boundaries and excuses I made for myself rather than not actually being able to do the work. Once I got writing about my topic, I found that I didn’t struggle with what to say. I think this was due to the amount of books and journals I read before and during the writing process. However, this did then lead to its own problems, once I had finished my writing and counted my word count I found that I was over the word limit and needed to make my writing more concise in areas and not allow myself to discuss things that were not so relevant to the topics I was covering, however, I didn’t see this as a huge issue. One thing I really enjoyed doing was my content analysis which made up my second chapter, I wasn’t anticipating doing a form of research in my dissertation but it was really interesting and I think it helped me to build my argument more as the evidence for my argument was there in front of me.

Overall, I feel very proud and will hopefully be happy with the grade I achieve.

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Dissertation

My dissertation is finished! All my writing has been done and I have read and re read through to make sure of any spelling or grammar mistakes. I have sent off my dissertation to friends and family to proof read so I will wait for their comments before handing it in. I feel that the dissertation hasn’t been as bad as I had originally thought, I have given myslelf personal deadlines and kept on top of the work load, I have continued to read books and journals to inform my dissertation throughout the whole process and have attended each of the tutorials with Ashley, so any complications or challenges I was facing I was able to verbalise with her and get the help and advice I needed. So far my word count is at 9,609 without quotes which I am very happy with. In the beginning I thought I would struggle with 8,000 words so I’m proud that I have achieved it! At the end of this week I will be writing a PDP about my whole dissertation and constellation experience over the past 3 years at university.


Dissertation progress

With the dissertation deadline looming a slight panic over Christmas break led me to get on with finish  writing my chapters. I feel that I am in a good position for the deadline on February 2nd, I’ve given myself a personal deadline to get my dissertation finished before this date so that I have time to ask friends and family to read it over and double check my spelling and grammar! As well as making sure I have time to get it printed, giving me some extra days to make any last minute changes or for any unseen circumstances. At this point in time, I have written all of my chapters, lit review, introduction and bibliography. All that is left is the abstract and the conclusion, along with final editing. I will also take the time to check my word count and ensure I haven’t waffled on subjects and have kept my writing concise and to the point. 

Though the process is not over yet, I feel that I have approached the dissertation in a positive way, I have planned my workload and have ensured that I have set targets for myself for where I wanted to be within the process and when which I have mostly stuck to. This has meant that though it has been a struggle at times I haven’t found it to be as gruelling as I thought I would!


Dissertation Draft Hand In

Today I had to hand in my first draft of my dissertation. I was happy with how much I had managed to write and hopefully the writing is good quality. The actual dissertation hand in is 2nd February so I still have plenty of time to complete my dissertation. I need to complete my Abstract, finish my Chapter two, Write up my Chapter three and write my Conclusion. This is completely achievable and I feel in control.

Ashley told me to keep working on my dissertation during the two weeks when I do not have a dissertation tutorial. During this time I will be completing my chapter two and beginning my chapter three whilst also completing more reading for my chapter three.


Dissertation : Content Analysis

Today I began my content analysis for my chapter two in my dissertation. I researched into what a content analysis was and what I needed to do for it using Gillian Rose’s Visual Methodologies book. It was very helpful in aiding me to understand that I needed to make a series of coding categories which were the things which I would be counting in the magazines I had collected. I had managed to collect 20 copies of Glamour magazine ranging from 2012 to 2015. Ashley said that this number was fine as I wouldn’t have time to do more than this. I collected the magazines through personal collection, friends donations but also had to purchase some through eBay to ensure I had enough to make a valid content analysis.

I was most interested to see how many plus size women, black or non-Caucasian women were shown in these magazines as from my reading it suggested that magazines gave a specific ideal which was mostly white, slim women. I decided on 22 coding categories which include “Advertisement featuring a woman with a slim figure”, “Advertisement featuring a celebrity”, “Advertisement stating a product leads to ‘Youth’/’Youthfulness’/’Youthful'” and more. I decided to separate the main two sections of the magazines which I was focussing on, advertisements and actual magazine content. A theme I am exploring in this dissertation is that the content in the magazines are changing to create a more positive body image for women yet advertisements in the magazines are behind and still promote a certain ideal. This is an idea which will either be proved right or wrong using this content analysis.

I found that the content analysis was more difficult and time consuming than I first thought so I will continue working on it and will then write up my chapter two.


Constellation : Dissertation Tutorial Three

Today I had a tutorial with Ashley about my dissertation progress. I didn’t feel the need for a tutorial but went to show my face anyway. I feel positive about my progression, I am getting on with the dissertation and feel that it’s going well at the moment. I do not feel panicked about the draft hand in in a couple of weeks on the 10th November. So far I have written my Introduction, Lit Review and Chapter One. I still need to rework a few parts in my introduction and add the journals I have read to my literature review but this will not take long. I discussed with Ashley that I had hoped to have a complete draft completed by the hand in but felt that it would not be worth rushing the dissertation just to hand it in. I would rather quality over quantity. Ashley agreed, gave me a few hints of what to do before the hand in but seemed happy with how I was getting on. Before the draft hand in I will be writing up some of my chapter two with my content analysis, add imagery into the dissertation and make a few tweaks to my introduction and literature review.


Constellation : Dissertation Tutorial Two

Today I had my second dissertation tutorial of the term with Ashley. I was feeling apprehensive about it as I felt I hadn’t completed that much work since I last saw her. I was being quite hard on myself as I soon realised when I was showing her my documents I had come quite a long way and made a good start. I showed Ashley my introduction, lit review, chapter one and bibliography. None of these things are finished but she read through each one and commented on how my language and writing had improved and that I’d made a good start. She gave me a few pointers of things to improve on and complete which I will be doing before my next session in two weeks time.

In chapter one, in my section on cosmetic surgery she told me to research a different academic than just Meredith Jones to give a different viewpoint which I can build an argument with.

In my chapter two I need to start thinking of how I will be analysing the magazines and also what magazines -I have decided on glamour but need to check to see if the library have a good amount of this specific magazine. I will probably be doing a content analysis but I need to think about this further.

For chapter three I need to actually mention what I will be doing for it in my introduction!

All these things are within my grasp and manageable.Overall the tutorial went well and has encouraged me to keep on working!