I have surprisingly enjoyed doing the dissertation more than I thought I would have. I think this came from the fact that I was able to research something that really interested me and do so in a lot of depth. Because I find my topic interesting I felt excited to find out more about it, despite somewhat dreading undertaking the task previously. Alongside this, I found researching and writing the dissertation less stressful than I had anticipated. I think this is partly because I topped letting other peoples panic and stress impact me, as I don’t work well under a lot of panic and pressure. I found different techniques to be in the right frame of mind to get on with this more academic type of work as opposed to the more practical and creative work I do during my graphic communication practice.
I prepared myself well over summer by doing lots of reading and trying to really find what aspect of my initial idea I wanted to home in on. Initially the focus was around the differences in documentary vs fiction films about murderers or criminals. Within this I found that I wanted to focus more on the representations of violent women within these documentaries.
The articles/books I have been reading have opened my eyes to the way the film industry works and how it was built. This has somewhat made me more cynical when watching or reading but I think I have become more able to look and analyse things with my ‘dissertation glasses’ on and seeing evidence of my reading in the world around me. This has allowed me to interact with current issues and not be afraid to voice my opinion or think in a certain way. My research has helped me to further understand what the perceived woman’s role is in a patriarchal society, this has meant that I see things differently.
One thing that I have struggled with has been trying to pin point what the aim or purpose of my contribution is. This has been something that I have struggled with throughout the process starting at the dissertation proposal. This has been somewhat problematic in the writing of my dissertation because I have struggled to link back to the question as I didn’t really have a one fixed in place. Whilst I knew kind of what I wanted to say I was struggling to articulate it cohesively. Towards the end of the writing of the dissertation through exploring my research and being able to apply it to examples the aim of the dissertation became somewhat clearer. However, I think it is expected that the more research and ideas you encounter the more likely things are to alter, not drastically but become a lot more precise.
Whilst doing my research I have had to figure out effective ways of collecting and recording information that I would find useful in writing my dissertation. Coping with carrying out academic work has been a huge learning curve for me in terms of working whilst having dyslexia. I have found that it takes me a long time and a lot of stages and steps to be able to process an article or document. Firstly, I realised it is hopeless for me to try and read on a screen which means printing out the information and highlighting and making notes on top. Then I found writing the things I had discovered quickly in a notebook helped me pick out the bits I needed and get the ideas into my head. After this I found that writing all of the information on a word document helpful. This also helped me be more successful at referencing as I titled each document with the full reference and included the citations I would need in the dissertation in the notes. I did all this for each section or paragraph of the text, working in small chunks helped me to process and fully understand it. Although this did take a long time I think it is the most efficient way of working I have found.
I have also found that I work better in small chunks of 2/4 hours rather than forcing myself to work solidly throughout the day. This helps me keep my attention and concentration on the work whilst allowing myself the time away to do other things without feeling guilty or like I have achieved nothing. As well as this I have realised I need to work in complete silence in a room on my own, which sounds slightly weird but is what works for me. As well as this I have had to improve my writing skills in terms of punctuation to aid my explanations instead of losing meaning through drawn out sentences.
Doing the dissertation has left me with a sense of achievement as at the beginning of the process I would have never thought that I would be able to do it. I have discovered new ways of working that I wouldn’t have found without going through the dissertation process.
Overall I have found the process interesting and enriching in terms of enlightening or aiding my professional practice in terms of understanding how the representation of women in the media are not true, honest or ‘real’. One of the projects in my graphic communication is to design part of the dissertation, the ideas I have discovered will directly influence this work. The role of the woman within film and the violent women as a sight of male phantasy. This will be an interesting thing to explore through typography, colour, hierarchy and image.