I made lots of changes for my final draft, the most major of which was removing my final chapter on Bricolage, I decided that this topic didn’t fit with the others and was making a very different point. I concluded that by losing this chapter it would improve my dissertation and allow my to expand more on the other points.
I also did a lot of restructuring to make the chapter flow better, this was helped by introducing a short introduction, conclusion and linking sentence to the next chapter. I also added in more pictures to support and illustrate my points better.
I have noticed a great improvement in my writing from the proposal form to the first draft and to the final draft, this is mainly just due to practice and some useful advice from Ashley. I feel proud to the progression I have made while writing my dissertation and feel that I have created the best piece of work I can.
I found the tutorials with Ashley very helpful as I was able to discuss ideas and develop points with her help and guidance. She offered me advice on books to read, such the Derek Fraser, The Evolution of the Welfare State, and areas to do further research.
The most helpful aspect was being able to hand in my first draft to be marked and get feedback. Ashley gave me a lot of advice on how to improve my writing style and convey my arguments better. I also got clarification on referencing and that by including fewer quotes it would let the writing flow better allowed for more analysing and in depth discussion.
Another areas that I needed to improve on is my spelling and grammar – in order to this I have made a concerted effect to read everything thing through and also get someone else, boyfriend or family member to check for any mistakes I may have overlooked.
Initially I found writing my dissertation very daunting, staring at a blank page of paper wasn’t helping therefore I began by writing a plan for each chapter and forming arguments or points for discussion, which helped me to to subdivide my chapters. Once I had a basic structure I was able to start forming a more detailed argument. I used my research and the quotes I had gathered while reading to support my arguments.
Initially I found writing the introduction hard as I need to set the seen and give an outline of what is to come without giving away too much and repeating myself later. However with advice from Ashley and the handbook I got the hang of it, once it was written I found the introduction very useful to refer to while writing.
I started writing my chapters based on my plan, and included quotes as references as I went along. I tried to back up very point I made with a quote or reference, to give my argument support from academics and theories. I also collected several images that I referred to throughout my writing. I worked hard to get a first draft completed in order to be submitted and marked by my tutor, I wanted my work to have a profession feel so I worked a lot on the layout as well as the title and contents pages.
In order to give my study more understanding and depth on some of my topics, I was required to do some further reading. I was keen to learn more about what life was like for the working classes during the Industrial Revolution and whether their lifestyle had an impact on the rug making of the period. I looked at several books to help me gain this knowledge, the most useful of which was ‘The Evolution of the British Welfare State’ Derek Fraser (1984). I also felt it was necessary to research more into William Morris, the Bauhaus and war rugs in order to give a more rounded opinion and have a better knowledge of the subjects that I am discussing.
I would not have been able to do this research with out the use of the electronic library, I have used Summon to help me find book, e-book, journals and e-journals and much more. I have found this resource very helpful and user friendly, I have also used several of the libraries databases, such as Art Full Text and Cite Me Right, which has also been beneficial.
I started researching Moroccan rugs for my Field project, after a trip to Marrakech in January 2014 I was fascinated by the craft of rug making. I did lots of research into the equipment and techniques involved, I even made a small loom of my own to create samples. For more info on this project look under my Field Project Category
This initial research formed the starting point or my dissertation idea, however I knew it needed lots of refining to create something suitable for a dissertation. After several tutorials and discussions with tutors I decided on doing a comparison between Moroccan rugs and British rag rugs. I now had the idea and had to start looking up information on the two subjects.
This research led me to books like this;
Rag Rugs of England and America, Emma Tennant (1992) and Arts and Crafts of Morocco, James Jereb (1995)
From reading these and others I started picking up on key point that have effected the craft, I was keen to learn more about what factors can change a craft such as rug making.
This is an evaluation and reflection of my research for my dissertation so far.
I started off my research by reading books on rug making, I looked at the history of rag rugs and the methods of making pile rugs. This provided me with a starting point for the rest of my research. There were several recurring themes I picked up on, the first was the impact of the Industrial Revolution on rug making. This lead me to research the Arts and Crafts Movement and its point of view on the Industrial Revolution. I discovered some of William Morris’ writings on the subject as well as on socialism which proved very useful. Further research brought me to also look at the Bauhaus, which was influenced by Morris and continued to keep the traditional techniques alive. As well as looking at the Bauhaus’ main aims and objectives I also focused some my research to the weaving workshop as this was most relevant.
The second aspect I gained from my initial research was the effect that war had on rug making in Britain. The Second World War slogan ‘make do and mend’ provided a boost to rag rugs. This lead me too look else where to see if war has effected any other countries rug making, I discovered the weavers in Afghanistan and their ‘war rugs’. I was intrigued to learn more about how war had affected their culture and how this had impacted on their rug making.
I wanted to do a comparison between countries and cultures so the other side of my research has been on Moroccan rugs, this has been harder to find information on as many of the weaver can’t write and most information is passed on through word of mouth. However a research trip to Marrakech, where I was taught how to make a knotted rug, proved very useful in gathering information. I discovered connections between Moroccan beliefs and other cultures. For example only women in Morocco can weave, this was similar the Bauhaus were the weavers workshop was known as the ‘women’s department’.
I would like to continue my research on Moroccan rugs and look into the imagery on them. A lot of the designs have a symbolic meaning and I would like to learn more about this. This contrasts from this British rag rugs where the design was just there to make it look nicer rather than any symbolic meaning.
I also brought in research I had done previously, the concept of taking old scraps of fabric and giving them a new meaning by making them into rugs reminded my of a concept I learnt in Constellation last year – that of ‘bricolage’. Hebdige mentions it in relation to subcultures in his book Subcultures; The Meaning of Style. This brought me on to research other theories of ‘bricolage’ and I discovered Claude Levi-Strauss and his book The Savage Mind.
I feel that my research has helped my develop my ideas and shaped my dissertation into an interesting and relevant study. I think I am continually improving my research skills and am able to pick out the best on most relevant info and quotes from a text much more quickly and easily. I am starting to analyse my findings and link together several key aspects. I have found it really useful to keep a journal for my ideas, this means I have all my ideas recorded so I can refer back to them. It has shown my the development my dissertation has already taken since my first idea and I shall continue to record my findings.
I found the dissertation seminars immensely useful, I really benefitted from talking to other students doing a similar theme. We were able to share ideas and books, we also produced a mind map where we were able to link theories together. I found I was able to develop my theme and expand my pool of resources with the help of other students.
The tutorials with my dissertation and subject tutors has provided me with good discussions on my topic and enabled me to refine my ideas and formulate a cohesive argument. These tutorials have led me to think outside the box and expand my research to other areas, this will give my study more variety and more relevance in the wider art world.
The dissertation proposal form has made me record my ideas and plans for my dissertation, this has enabled me to see where I need to do more work and develop my ideas further. It has provided me with a good starting point and a basic structure for my dissertation.
Overall I feel I have improved my research skills as well as my ability to communicate my ideas and record them on paper. I am really excited to continue my research and begin my dissertation.
For the dissertation proposal form we had to come up with 3 book reviews and a journal review, I picked the ones that I felt had something interesting to say in relation to my discussion. I carried out compressive reviews and also created a mind map of the key ideas each book or article brought up, this enabled me to link ideas together and cross-reference points from other books. This proved vital in coming up with my key points to say and thus forming the foundation for my chapters.
I now had my chapter outline;
Chapter 1 The effect of the Industrial Revolution on handicraft
Chapter 2 The ideas of the Bauhaus in relation to weaving
Chapter 3 How war can affect the Craft of rug making
Chapter 4 The theory of Bricolage in relation to rag rugs
Now that I had a basic structure I was able to carry out more detailed research and expand these points. I discovered the impact that the Industrial Revolution had on William Morris and how this effected the formation of the Arts and Crafts Movement. I also discovered a relationship between weaving and women that crossed many different cultures, and so on.