I spent Thursday and Friday of last week back in Aberystwyth chatting with the relevant people about my change to being a distance learner and attending the workshops run by my department to introduce us to our dissertations. The dissertation’s a big module for my final year, it makes up one quarter of the marks and is the only module with such a big weighting attached to it. Whilst I have a few butterflies floating around in general I’m actually feeling pretty excited about it.
This isn’t my first time writing a dissertation, I had to do one for my first degree and whilst it was on an interesting topic it didn’t really work for me and I ended up not enjoying it at all. I was so relieved when it was bound and submitted, to this day I don’t know what mark I got for it – you had to apply for your marks for it and I didn’t really want to know! I’ve spent some time thinking back to those days though, I’m determined that this time I’m going to get it right and end the module still feeling passionate about the topic I choose rather than never wanting to hear another thing about it.
The big first step is picking the topic. I’ve spent some time this summer having a look at a variety of journals that all focus on literacy and libraries for children and young people, I’ve drawn up a pretty long list of articles that jumped out as being of interest to me. From this I worked out the sorts of topic area I was interested in, I arrived on Thursday morning with 5 distinct topics. By Friday morning I’d refined this list to 2 topics – the activities we did on Thursday along with coming back to thinking about this after a break away helped me to see how 3 of the topics were actually all parts of 1 topic, and abandon 1 entirely! I explained the two ideas I had to the lecturers running the workshops and they were really positive about both of them, so now all I have to do is choose.
The topics I have in mind, in their broadest possible terms, are focusing either on the portrayal of minority groups in young adult literature or on censorship of young adult fiction. They’re both things I care about deeply and I feel confidant that spending the next few months immersed in either of them won’t put me off. I’m looking forward to getting to chat with the lecturer I hope to have as a dissertation supervisor, hopefully he’ll be able to help me make up my mind.