It’s the time of year when you can scare all finalists by uttering just one word to them; ‘dissertation’. The big deadline is looming on the horizon for all my fellow American Studies final years, and it’s strange to think that by May 10th the piece of work that I will have spent almost two years working on in one way or another will be out of my hands and facing the scrutiny of the markers. As well as all the reading and writing, there is so much to navigate including ultra-specific formatting regulations, proofreading, printing, and binding. I’m aiming to get mine completely finished by the end of April as my birthday is on May 7th and I don’t want to still be tying up loose ends on my final draft whilst trying to celebrate turning 22! My plan is to have it completely done by May 1st and to go and hand in the printed and bound copy on May 6th.
I don’t think I’ve ever really talked on my blog about my dissertation, but I’m writing my 10,000 words about the civil rights movement in Dallas, Texas, and the essay is based almost entirely on research I did while on my year abroad in Arlington. Specifically, I am writing about how African Americans and Mexican Americans worked together to advance civil rights in Dallas and discussing factors that may have caused division between the two groups. Clearly, my writing wouldn’t have been possible without my year abroad and American Studies students who study in North America are actually required to demonstrate how they used their time in the States to further their research.
In terms of my progress? Well, I’ve actually completed and handed in my first draft chapter. At Leicester we are allocated a dissertation supervisor with expertise in the topic who is allowed to give feedback on one chapter, so I completed my chapter on police brutality and handed it in to my supervisor for feedback at the end of January. Since then, I’ve been editing the chapter based on the feedback I received and have started getting an in depth plan together for my second chapter on education including paragraph structure and notes.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my progress so far and think the final two chapters and introduction and conclusion should be relatively quick to write based on all the work I’ve been doing over the past few months. My main focus has been reading and working with primary sources, in order to make the actual writing process as quick as possible. I’m very grateful to my supervisor for prodding me in to writing my first chapter, as I had been putting off writing in favour of reading since coming back to Leicester. It also showed me that it wasn’t too much of a painful experience and if you take a chapter at a time the whole thing is a lot less intimidating.