Constellation Week 5 with Cath Davies: Dissertation Preperation

November 8th 2013

The final week of our constellation sessions consisted of us coming up with ideas for our dissertation and how to start the preparation for them. We began by taking notes on how to start out preparation using the column system that Cath taught us. In the column system, we take a case study, for example an image, and then describe the characteristics of it, followed by an analysis of the meanings/connotations of the image and finally researching academic theory on the topic to back up our statements.

We keep adding to the columns as we go along, showing skill in our ability to research and quote academic debates on the subject field. We won’t be the first or only person to write about a certain subject so we have to explain how our research is similar but also how it differs from previous examples.

Cath used examples her own research and interests to help us get an idea of how to go about starting our own. Her research consiteted of the desgins of Alexander McQueen, Japanese designers Kawakubo and Yamamoto and dress defining body shape. We made notes on the extracts about these subjects, again to help us practice for when we need to analyse our own research notes.
We discussed deconstruction, breaking or changing the rules and trashing ideologies within our creative practices and used the Japanese designers as an example of this. Yamamoto created an evening dress made of felt as oppose to silk which moves with your body, felt does not. It’s all about body shape and how clothes can redefine and create new body shapes as well as the different connotations of different fabrics.

For my dissertation, I have decided to focus it on folk lore and fairy tales, something I have been interested in since a young age. I made a few notes on the different areas I could look into such as how they have been told and retold, portrayed and refashioned over time, using reworking’s and retellings from literature and film as examples.
The representation of gender is also something I would look into as well as how it has changed over time, comparing and contrasting it. The different themes in these tales would also be interesting to research such as, good and evil, dark and light, monstrosity and glamour, life and death, children and parents and the hidden meanings and connotations to name a few.
I would also like to examine the sudden rise of popularity of the film adaptions of these tales and how they compare to the film adaptions in the past. Walt Disney’s animation films would play a great part in this and it would be interesting to see how they became the foundation and example for how fairy tales should be adapted into film.
In terms of academic and theoretical research, I would start by reading The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Betteleheim and From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers by Marina Warner. I would also look into literary retellings of popular tales, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber being an example, as well as the original stories themselves by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.

The five constellation sessions have been a great and helpful start to how I should begin my research and preparation for my dissertation and I shall be using the techniques learned in them to help me with my own work.


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