Topic/theme/title for an English Literature BA
September 22, 2019 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Help me decide on an idea for an 8,000 word dissertation I have to write to complete an English Literature BA I started some years ago. I haven't written so much as an essay in decades and I am currently overwhelmed.

I am short on ideas. I'm greatly interested in the novels of Michel Faber, but have no idea how to make that into a dissertation. My tutor(who I haven't yet met) has also said that the department 'probably lacks the expertise for that', (it is a small provincial university.)

I'm currently reading Ted Hughes' translation of some of the stories from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and I have some familiarity with Hughes' own poetry. Might it be possible to work up a topic comparing Hughes' work with Ovid's ideas/concerns?

I found an old poetry book in a cupboard that I studied as a 15-year-old in high school, and rediscovered my enjoyment of Yeats, Auden, Dylan Thomas. How about that?

I'm actually willing to throw out all these ideas and fix on something else, I am just feeling unable right now to come up with anything concrete. I'd almost be grateful if someone just gave me a title for me to decide on and work at. Suggestions for 'how to' guides would also be welcome.
posted by Atom Collection to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lit review, lit review, lit review. Hit up the library databases and find some recent scholarship on an author of interest, then read it to get a sense of what topics people are currently discussing in relation to this person.

If you pay careful attention and think critically, chances are that by the end of 4-5 articles or so, you'll either have an idea for an angle that people seem to be overlooking, or strongly disagree with some part of the conversation thus far. There (with approval of your tutor) is your thesis topic.
posted by Bardolph at 11:14 AM on September 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

I agree with Bardolph. Btw, a friend of mine finished his philosophy B.A. at age 37 or 38 with just such a paper. So it can be done!
posted by 8603 at 11:43 AM on September 22, 2019

Something something Ted Hughes interrogating humanity in animal guises; something something Faber interrogating the animal-alien in a human guise...
posted by Beardman at 2:06 PM on September 22, 2019

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