Archives par mot-clé : research

Discussing matters of legitimacy: When your dissertation paper hits too close to home

Written by Ilham Lamrani

            Upon starting their master’s degree, students face a variety of issues, one of them being: what is their dissertation going to be about? Having to find something to write and read up on for months can be very daunting. Teachers usually advise students to work on something they are particularly interested in, since they will be spending hours and hours on this paper. But that means they are left with the endless possibilities that come with the sentence “you can work on anything.” The latter is true, indeed… in theory. But they will have to pick a subject which will allow them to find enough primary sources to fuel their reflections. Once their choice is made, they can spend hours online, in a library or in a research center, looking for the document, the holy grail that will unlock (or not) the mystery of all their hypotheses.

            If, similarly to myself, they picked a topic that they love studying (in my case, African-American history – more precisely, the representation of African Americans in the US judiciary system), they will soon be confronted with important issues. First: isn’t this topic too personal? As academics in training, students are expected to never lack objectivity in regard to their work. Therefore, they need to have (and maintain) a certain distance in what they write within their dissertations. Since I work on race-related issues, I have to read, watch and listen to very provocative materials – some documents deal with police brutality, slavery, rape… All of this made me question my work due to the latter’s emotional impact: would I truly be able to do this?

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Research, or keeping up the desire to read

Going into research implies a strong inclination towards acquiring knowledge and highly developed curiosity. Being a researcher takes time and effort, yet not everyone is willing to spend that much energy acquiring knowledge, sharing discoveries, as well as doing a lot of reading.

We are constantly being told that new generations read less and less, that they spend their time otherwise, and that even if their curiosity has no limit, the written word is dying out confronted with the new media. If the world stops reading, the world will run out of researchers, or so one might think. Read more!

That-which-should-not-be-named: the aborted research thesis

Between fear and fascination of animals: the case of the animal in Victorian literature

“You cannot have it both ways, you need to choose one and leave the other.” We are confronted with dilemmas on a daily basis. For instance, should we obey our sense of reason or our instincts? In other words, trust our “animal” side. What if animals could behave like humans and the other way around? Could we be both and not be compelled to choose? The topic that I would have liked to tackle for my Master’s dissertation deals with this quandary. I had to leave behind the wayside subversive messages in children’s literature. Read more!