Dissertation PDP

The process of writing a dissertation has been both daunting and rewarding, I was nervous to begin as I hadn’t had much practise in writing in University, a part from a couple of short essays, since school. Therefore, I decided that in order for me to stay interested in writing a long piece of work I would need the subject of it to be of interest to me. As an environmentalist and a painter, I thought a good idea would be to write a dissertation on landscapes. However, I wasn’t overly confident on what the theme or question of landscapes should be. When I spoke to Jon, my dissertation tutor, about my chosen dissertation subject, he gave me many different ideas and was really helpful. I came to the decision to write about how landscape painting had changed in a post-war society. From the beginning, I wasn’t overly confident about the subject of my dissertation but Jon helped me with thinking about what I should consider whilst studying about the chosen subject which helped me gain confidence. I decided to write about the St Ives artists portrayal of the landscape through the use of multi-perspectives and senses, as I had no knowledge on this subject before I realised it was a good idea to get my research started quite soon after.

Firstly, he helped me by telling me about relevant books to get from the library which was a great start. I found the library confusing at first, but once I got to know the system it slowly became clear where to find the books I was looking for. The best way to find the books that I needed was by using Met-search, all that you need to do is type in key words and select categories and the site will pull up all books that seem relevant to what you have searched for. Met-search is a great facility located on Moodle which makes it easier to find the books, articles, dvds and online texts from all of Cardiff Metropolitan library. I began by taking quite a few books out of the library and reading, lots. Reading and note taking was probably the most strenuous, my eyesight isn’t the best so I found it quite difficult to sit and read for long periods of time, but as I started reading quite early on I found I had quite a bit of time to read and note take over the summer. As I was reading about my subject I was coming across lots of different themes and was becoming more and more interested in the subject.

Realising that my dissertation needed to include more of an academic theory, Jon explained to me about the theory of phenomenology. At first, I was bewildered and I had no idea how I would ever understand this theory, but he mentioned a book which explained the theory in a simpler text. This certainly helped me out in understanding the theory more clearly and I was then able to link it all together in my dissertation practice. The theory itself has become a great interest to me and I am thankful that Jon told me about it as I think it made my dissertation just that bit more interesting and theoretical.

I began by acquiring lots of different books which targeting all areas of my study practice, using labelled post-it notes which helped me to find a specific subject in a book. Once I was pleased with my note taking, I began by using mind-maps and listing methods to plan out what my chapters were going to include. I decided it would be best to split up my dissertation chapters into the different themes I had been reading about for the last few weeks, this helped me to stay organised as I know my organisation skills aren’t great. From reading about my chosen subject, I have learned a substantial amount about artist Peter Lanyon and I was truly astonished about how much the coming of the wars had affected the perception of the landscape and consequently, the artistic portrayal of the landscape had changed, this dissertation project has certainly made me more aware of art history and the use of abstract expressionism.

I decided to write my conclusion after my chapters and finally my introduction, the reason for this being because as I was writing I was finding out more anyway and wanted my introduction to flow nicely into my chapters and finally my conclusion. I believe that by doing it this way has helped me to really think about the flow of my dissertation and to make sure it is presented well. I believe that my successes throughout writing this paper have been improving my ability to concentrate and understanding grammar and general methods of writing a large thesis. I have definitely improved on reading books and being able to highlight significant information. I have learned a lot about academic writing which is not my strong point, I have also learned a lot about the subject I have been researching which is great. I really enjoyed reading the books by author Margaret Garlake, her studies of Peter Lanyon’s life and work really helped me with understanding my subject fully. This was helped by her easy to understand text. The book I struggled with the most was ‘Art and Embodiment from aesthetics to self-consciousness’ by Paul Crowther. Although he had simplified Merleau-Ponty’s theory of phenomenology, it was still quite a difficult theory to learn about. However, it was a very interesting read and I am quite sure that I have used the information I acquired in the right context.

Overall, from writing this dissertation, I feel it has certainly boosted my writing confidence because the dissertation has always been a worry for me.  I am glad I had Jon as a tutor as he was so understanding and always so full of knowledge, the process of writing a dissertation has helped me to refine my writing skills and look further into my chosen subject and theory.



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18 years old, first year fine art student in Cardiff :)

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