Dissertation Breakdown: Part 1

My dissertation has been on my mind. I’m not excited about my topic as I feel I should be and I can’t help feeling that I am missing out on writing about something I would be more interested in writing about in place of something I feel is more sensible and appropriate. I feel really torn between topics that I ‘should’ write about and are perhaps more directly related to graphic design and more ‘intellectual’, and topics that I know I would enjoy writing about and could probably more easily write about because of my interest in them, though they are less directly relevant to my course. I think speaking to other people about their topics scared me about my own ideas and made me narrow my thinking to ‘graphic design topics’, when I loved my constellation study group last term and would probably enjoy writing about things taken from/related to theories from those lectures. I think I’m just having a bit of a fear of the commitment to a topic, because I want to enjoy it and equally I want to do really well.

All of the reading I have done to date will be relevant no matter what, as the different topics I am battling between overlap in places. I am interested in socially and politically driven graphic communication (massively!), however I basically want to gush about how amazing I think design for activism and tackling political issues is in my 10,000 word dissertation – far too broad and unfocussed for real life dissertations.

After a meeting with Ashley, and a late night break down over email, I feel much better about my dissertation and have decided to go with my original dissertation idea as a foundation to build on and develop. I will be looking at American Psycho – the film and book – and the representation and treatment of women within this, looking at magical realism, metaphor and social commentary. I think my diversion of looking at socially and politically driven graphic design grew from my adoration of the metaphoric nature of American Psycho and the way in which it approaches the unpleasantries of society to expose them in an over exaggerated manor, so to disgust the observer and hit them hard with the ugly nature of society. The way in which American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis and Mary Harron (in the book and the film) approach these topics is similar to the way in which designers approach important moral and political issues, exposing the shocking nature of reality in order to spark a change. Though I do not feel American Psycho was actively trying to spark a change in the world, it definitely highlighted certain elements of society, masculinity and consumerism that are now shocking to look back on.


I already feel much better about my dissertation. I know that, by choosing a topic I will enjoy, I can have no regrets. I was scared to get half way through and realise I had made a mistake, though I cannot regret not choosing another topic if I choose this topic, which I feel I can speak at length about, with a personal opinion and stand point.


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