Constellation this year has been extremely helpful and interesting. It’s been eye opening into the way of academic writing, something that had always mystified me before. As well as that, first term really helped me think critically and deeper about this, to question things I wouldn’t have before. Without constellation, I believe I would be struggling to develop into a critical thinker, that questions things, rather than believing things because someone (whether it be an academic theory, or something told to me from a teacher), as before I assumed everything as a certainty, but the fact is that, we as a people, like to have every questioned answered, and so when there is an unknown we work tirelessly to find an answer, but a lot of the time, these answers while assumed correct at the time, are disproved and replaced with another theory.
I was incredibly happy this year to learn there wouldn’t be many(if any) keynote lectures, as while they were interesting, unless they were really captivating and on a subject I could relate or knew something about, I often found hard to follow and impossible to keep up with note taking, so often left these feeling discouraged and frustrated with myself.
The weekly sessions really opened my mind, and were a nice mental break from subject work. I really loved that constellation is made up of students from across the CSAD subjects, as it’s interesting to see how different subjects approach the same thing differently, even speaking in groups in the class, its interesting to listen to two people, from two entirely different fields, discussing and debating a subject, and I believe this really helps the students bond and create a more open-minded attitude through out the subjects.
The way constellation was set out for the year was helpful for development, I felt that the weekly sessions, and the 500 word essay but then a more relaxed schedule the next term, with opportunities to speak to tutors individually was ideal. I know that I personally found my individual tutorials with Ashley helpful and enlightening, and I always felt a little surer about what I was doing with my dissertation proposal after every meeting. I also felt after the first term a lot more confident in my academic writing, after receiving feedback and critique from Ashley on what I needed to work on. It was the ideal practice run for the dissertation proposal, although I feel we should have been encouraged to think about what our dissertation would be about earlier, as I’m an extremely slow reader and would have liked to have read more on my topic.
I chose Ashley as my top option for Constellation, because her keynote was clear and easy to understand, while making me think, which is something as a dyslexic student I find essential to be able to take in and understand the information being presented to me. I remember leaving the lecture hall after being given the presentations from all the tutors, and actually being able to remember Ashley’s’, and how I was thinking about it, hours later at work.
Ashley’s’ sessions, were interesting and really kept my interest through out the sessions, even to the point that I would be leaving the sessions ready to do blog posts about what I’d learnt. I found the subject fascinating, as it was something relatable, and theories I could reflect and analysis in my life outside of university, not just in the context of constellation. As I found the subject so enjoyable, and could understand and follow the way Ashley taught these sessions, I found the essay for that term to be the easiest Id ever written, although after getting feedback from Ashley, I got a reality check to really make sure I understood the things I write about, as when trying to communicate things in written word, I often get them mixed up and confused, even when their clear in my head.
In the second term we concentrated on doing the background reading for our dissertation proposals, and so we only met a few times to review our thoughts on our dissertations to that point. Id decided quite early on that I’d chooses a topic that’s very relevant and topical at the moment, a subject I had first hand experience with and was passionate about (everyday sexism and micro-aggression). The issue I soon found out was that, all the ideas in the world didn’t matter if I had no background understanding on the subject, as Ashley pointed out, I didn’t know enough about who else had written about the subject or much else for that matter. All I really knew was what Id read in books (fictional), what I’d seen in films, and what I’d read in the news.
Between the last three weeks of term (this is when I decided on a topic to focus on) and the end of Easter, I did everything I could think of to find relevant resources, although the books and things I found, tended to be lacking in the kind of information I was interested in, so in the last week of term I had a meeting with the Liberian to help me locate really up-to date journals (print and online) and really relevant books. I found relevant books easily after that, but still struggled with Journals, as they all had a focus, and while only touching of everyday sexism briefly, were for the most part irrelevant and just ended up taking up a lot of my time, reading articles that 90% of I couldn’t even use. This was really dis-heartening and really put a halt on my productiveness, and so between the first three weeks of Easters, I barely wrote 500 words, despite my best efforts and reading all I could. It wasn’t till I came back to Cardiff and met up with my friend that I became inspired again, and that was because, I figured out an angle to focus on in my proposal, something that I’d previously been struggling with.
As soon as I had my angle, the rest of the essay was easy to write, for the majority of the essay was finished after one day of writing, I then spent a few hours the next day referencing, and double and triple checking that, and then another few hours reading it over and over, Id finally finished it by Thursday night.
While constellation is in no way, shape, or form, my strength, I try hard and I work hard, whether the grade I get is good, or bad in the spectrum of all the students, I know I’ve done my best. This year of constellation has been hard work at stages, tiresome, and disheartening, but I know how much, this year of constellation in particular has affected me as a person and as a artist, for the better.