In complete transparency this year has been extremely stressful, with that in mind, combined with the feeling and lack of creativity that comes along with having to create and write insightful well executed and intelligent pieces of work has resulted in quite frankly, the opposite of the desired. It’s also worth mentioning at this point I am Dyslexic, and in my opinion terrible at writing, especially academic writing. While last year deepened my understanding of academic writing, and encouraged me to think more critically, I am still unsure of my writing ability. I have always had issues with my ability to communicate concepts and thoughts that make sense internally but lack clarity when I try and communicate them to others, especially when written.
My approach to work has been slow, working slowly doing a small amount a week, unfortunately this left me with a great deal still to do. The majority of the content has been written in the last two months. Balancing subject, dissertation and working evenings is no easy task, and so in an attempt to reduce stress I took January off work to finish writing. While a large part of the research was already done, I noticed some gaps in my research. I’ve needed to find specific pieces of information such as dates, events, names, (things I didn’t realise were missing until reading my work back) which I’ve found using online sources, including the university online library,
Throughout the year, I’ve had meetings twice a week with my dissertation tutor Ashley Morgan. The meetings have had an indispensable role in my writing process, and a vital point where I could sit back and reflect on my progress with the eye of an experienced but un-biased third party. Without these bi-weekly meetings, I quite seriously doubt I would have anything even remotely coherent to hand in, and so proving essential at getting me to the point where I feel happy handing this document in. In these meetings we’ve not only discussed my progress but more importantly we’ve had discussions about all of these amazingly fascinating women throughout history including, but not limited to; writers, protestors, actresses, Politian’s and academics, along with their academic theories. I always left these meetings knowing with more certainty and focus where I was going with my dissertation. In a wider sense, these discussions were focused around a topic I care deeply about, and so when I left these meetings I would feel more knowledgeable, furthering my resolve that being a feminist is brilliant, brave and necessary.
Academically, I think I’ve really come into my stride. I’ve learnt a lot this year; my knowledge of sexism has grown considerably from what I thought I knew before I began researching and writing for my dissertation. I’ve read an array of interesting things, through a range of topics. I have found that the historical events I’ve read accounts of paired with thought provoking academic theories the most compelling reads. As well as my knowledge being greatly widened, I’ve also found that my mind has a more inquisitive nature. My thought processes and ideas have a far wider scope and I make more effort to develop these thoughts so the ideas have more depth and meaning to them.
I have also been thinking in more depth about the audience and artist relationship, and the importance of making your work acceptable and understandable for a wider audience.
As my dissertation isn’t focused on visual imagery, it had little impact on how I approached my subject work visually, however the topic has had an extensive impact in inspiring the topic and subject matter for my subject projects.
It also helped me realise the importance of content, and that I create my best artistic work when it’s a project that is important, when the context of the work is meaningful, well researched and something I’m passionate about. (No matter if an image is visually pleasing or technically accurate, it will mean nothing in the context of illustration or how one values the work without the meaning and passion behind it.) The care I put into these pieces of work really reflects in the quality, and to what extent I measure the work as a success or a failure.
Having done extensive research on topic and focused all my energy on this subject for so long, the impact on my life outside of university is genuinely astonishing to me. I’ve developed a passion and fuel for the topic, it bleeds into most of my conversations at work, in university, and socially, and has become an important part of my life, and personality.
I am left reflecting and analysing everything people say, constantly correcting people when they make ‘microaggressive’ or just blatant sexist comments, whether they are aware that they have made them or not.
A realisation I’ve made is that if people are not made aware of the comments they are making then they will only continue. This reinforces the idea that these acts and remarks are acceptable.
I am the first to admit that constellation and academic writing are not where I excel, I’ve worked really hard over the last two years on improving my academic ability, so that whatever grade I get at the end of this, I know I have done the best I possibly could to get it. This year has been a roller-coaster of emotions and stress. It’s been no short of my idea of hell, however I’m proud, which may seem strange, but no matter how disheartened I became, I carried on and the fact you’re reading this means I’ve done it, and with that I am beyond chuffed.
The last three years have made me a stronger more knowledgeable person, artist and woman, whose fight doesn’t end here.