Dissertation Corner with Sally Reid: On Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh

Dissertation Corner returns! And for our first instalment of 2019, we’ve been talking to Sally Reid about her project about the relationship between biography and interpretation in the legacies of Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh.

Tell us about your dissertation, what is it about?

 My dissertation looks at the importance of biography on influencing interpretations of texts. I’ve chosen to look at this through Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. 

How did you choose the texts for your dissertation?

I chose the texts for several reasons. One being that I loved them both when reading for pleasure. I also felt there was an established discussion around biography and these two texts. 

Has your project changed much since the proposal stage?

When I originally proposed my dissertation topic there was a much bigger focus on individual biographies, as I have been working with my tutor and actually writing the focus has shifted more towards adaptations and reviews of the texts. 

Why are you interested in this topic?

This topic interests me for several reasons. For a start I am quite nosy, I like knowing about authors’ real lives and reading biographies and auto-biographies. There is a big focus on queer interpretations within my dissertation as well, which I feel is an important topic to research (I am finding that there is very little serious interest in this and queer interpretations are often met with scorn, especially regarding adaptations). 

 What have you enjoyed most about the project?

The most enjoyable part of this project for me so far has actually been the research. I have enjoyed trying to track public opinion and knowledge and building an understanding of trends in attitude. 

What has it been like working closely with an academic supervisor?

Working closely with an academic supervisor has been great. I’ve never been shy about setting up tutorials with other tutors in the past but having am ongoing discussion about the improvement of my project, with somebody who is also excited about the topic, is very helpful. A secondary opinion on arguments, structure and discussion is extremely beneficial. 

Would you like to be interviewed for Dissertation Corner? Just email a.smith3@yorksj.ac.uk or tweet @YSJLit to let us know.