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.