The Constellation module of my first year at CSAD has been a intellectually challenging but rewarding experience and it’s opened my eyes to different ways of thinking about my own work, my Illustrative work completed within briefs, but it has also challenged me to work on my essay writing skills, something before this year I’d never really attempted. Without constellation, it’s unlikely I would have learned to analyse things in a diverse manner, as I’ve learnt to do for Essays.
The weekly sessions broke up my other work, and helped me to get fresh perspectives on my Illustration work, as all the groups were full of students from all CSAD subjects, and talking to come of these other people, really helped in developing a more diverse look on my work. It was surprising to note the different ways in which people from other disciplines looked at briefs, even though we are all in the art discipline, we all had different approaches, which opened my mind to considering different styles of work in my subject. I most commonly took inspiration from the graphic designers and the fine artists, as the graphic designers had some brilliant ideas about presenting and trying to portray messages, and some of the fine artists really broadened my ideas of mediums.
The way in which constellation is set up, I believe to be extremely helpful for first year student especially, but starting the course with keynote lectures, and sessions, they are helping to broaden the mind-set of the students, who, if they’re like me, were set in the idea, that you have to focus on your subject, and thinking outside it would compromise your work, however I found if anything, it hugely improved my work, while the actual quality of my drawings is pretty much the same, the concepts behind my work has improved since attending keynote lectures, and sessions. Although from time to time, a session or keynote would feel irrelevant to me, even boring, majority of the time, I came out feeling as if I had been taught something helpful and eye-opening.
The first term essay, although small, I found extremely challenging, where as in person, I could talk about the baby-cage essay, having done plenty of research, I was well informed on the subject, and could talk for ages about different aspects, however the way we were asked to make the essay, I was uncomfortable, and had never attempted anything like it before. I was confused as the how I should layout my essay, how I should narrow down the information I knew, into a coherent essay that portrayed the message I wanted it to. I was also confused how to analyse images, and how to properly use academic theory to back up my image analyses. However once completed, I handed it in and was relieved when I got it back, it was a confidence booster, knowing I had a 2500 word essay to complete later in the year. This small essay was good practice for the larger one, and without it, I think it would be extremely likely I would have failed, as I wouldn’t have had much idea how to write an essay of this size.
At the beginning of term two, we were given the option of selecting subjects—each covered briefly in term one, in the form of keynote lectures, with a re-cap at the beginning of the term—and I was lucky enough to get into my first choice of study group- smells like teen spirit, taught by Cath Davies. I chose this as my first option, because I found Cath to be the most engaging of the lecturers, and I found her subject to be the most interesting, as well as the fact, I found her session, and keynote to be extremely helpful in my essay writing.
Cath’s constellation subject, was all about subcultures, so we looked at the history and theory behind a number of different subcultures, such as punk, goth, skinheads, the Ted’s, and a few others, we mainly looked at the subcultural style, and the symbolism behind the objects and fashion, used within the subcultures. We also looked at post-subculture, and the different academic theories that go along with it.
From the beginning of the study sessions, we were told to think about what we would focus on in our essays, and, though Cath suggested we relate it to what we covered in the taught sessions with her, we were given the freedom, to choose our own topic of interest, and to write our own essay title, which made me want to put more effort into finding something about which I was passionate about, and something that I would personally be able to write 2500 words about, however although throughout the sessions I was writing down brief notes of different subjects that could be potentially interesting essays, and before easter, I had a meeting with Cath, were I read a list of possible essay subjects, of which she said any would be good, as long as I relate them to a case study(i.e. a subculture). I believe I may have made writing the essay harder on myself as I only started reading books about subcultures, a week before I began writing my essay, so my academic insight, was limited to what we had covered in sessions, and the small amount I had read outside of sessions.
After a few personal tutorials with Cath, I decided on the essay title;
What is the relationship between Punk and Goth subcultural style and has it evolved in the 20th century?
In my essay, I used a lot of reference material, over 1000 words, so I believe it would have been helpful for me to have made more of an effort locating more academic references from outside the academic sources provided by Cath. It took me over a week to finish my essay, and I am not particularly pleased with the results, I don’t know reading it back, if I was clear and consise with the information and opinions i was trying to portray, and I feel that this could have let me down when it comes to grading, however I used a lot of quotes and references from academics, and I took a long time ensuring each quote was correctly referenced using the Harvard method, as I was extremely worried I would unintentionally plagiarise, although I was still confused on how to reference indirect quotes correctly, although I tried my best to follow a combination of the given referencing material, and online sources. In the future, I need to make sure I work better with my time management, as majority of my essay was written in the last two days before the deadline, I also need to work on essay planning, as well as clear and concise explanations. Once I’ve received my feedback for my essay, I will know more specifically how to improve for the next essay.
This year of constellation has been extremely helpful to me and I look forward to next year.