Second Year Constellation – A Reflection

It seems difficult to believe that our final constellation assessment for second year is here so soon. I felt quite daunted initially at the prospect of proposing my dissertation at this stage in second year, I have always thought that ‘dissertation’ meant the end of the degree was drawing near. But having begun to consider, discuss and propose my chosen topic at this stage in second year, I have found that starting in the second term of second year has proved helpful in allowing me time to really dig into to my chosen area of research. I am actually looking forward to dedicating time over the summer to continue to investigate my chosen topic, I am particularly preoccupied with the wanting to delve deep into the issues that my dissertation will address.

This being said, what I have found challenging when writing the proposal for the dissertation is exactly this preoccupation of wanting to delve deep. I considered so many different directions to my chosen research area, that I became quite distracted by them all. Although this may not necessarily have been a bad thing, it did make deciding on a specific title quite difficult. For a long time I was unable to decide how exactly I should take on the topic, which resulted in quite extensive rambling (on my part) during my initial tutorials!! It is also worth noting, that I am expecting that the dissertation title and plan may undergo a fair few changes when I eventually do come to the task of writing it.

Upon approaching the more formal task of a proposal, I continued to find it difficult to pinpoint the exact direction that I wanted to take in my dissertation, and did struggle to actually commit to the proposal and make a start. I was continuously became intent on reading that ‘one more extra book’ before I began. I can see now how this was perhaps not the most helpful approach, as I found that actually sitting down to write the proposal was a pretty good way of forming my otherwise scattered thoughts. A plan of action slowly began to reveal itself as I began to organise and link up the different things that I had read in a more formatted way. This was however, the first proposal I have ever written, and so I was a bit apprehensive of how to approach it. I attended a CSAD workshop on how to write a dissertation proposal – and this has proved extremely helpful!

The initial act of choosing a research area however, was not as challenging as choosing the exact title and focus of the research itself. The research area that I chose followed on from my interests in Post-modernity and meaning, something I am attempting to explore in my second year subject work. I did want to branch out slightly from this and examine something quite personal to my own experience of being an art student, the relationship between Christianity and contemporary art – with particular consideration as to how Postmodernism has affected this relationship. As a Christian myself, I have been interested in the dialogue between the Christian faith and contemporary art, how this exchange can often be seen to exist in quite a controversial way, with neither side seeming to always understand the other.

Something that I have begun to find whilst approaching research is how the Constellation module is all beginning to link up. I find myself referring back to lectures that I have had during first year, and early second year. It really does feel like all of the things that I have been taught throughout my time in University are slowly beginning to link up into a more holistic understanding of the subject area that I am interested in exploring. Attending ‘After Modernism’ lectures in first year, and ‘Puzzling Out Contemporary Art’ lectures in second year have benefited me so much now that I am coming to write my proposal. I have really been able to draw from the different ideas, theories and artists discussed during these lectures. I have found myself also building upon some of the essays that I completed during first and second year, particularly my first ever essay at university. Within my ‘baby cage’ essay, I addressed the work Piss Christ, 1989 by Andres Serrano, and discussed how the issue of meaning impacts the way that such a piece of work is received. This is a fundamental idea that I intend to build upon in my dissertation.

Overall, I have found the task of proposing my dissertation exciting (I’m not sure if exciting is perhaps the acceptable word), but approaching the dissertation it has really encouraged me to take a position of ownership within my writing and research. I am really starting to bring together my personal interests and concerns, my areas of research and the knowledge that I have gained from my time at university. I hope that this connection continues to strengthen as I enter into 3rd year and begin to write the dissertation itself.