In this week’s Dissertation Corner, Nicoletta Peddis speaks to current dissertation student Fearn Britton.
Tell me a bit about your dissertation.
I am looking at three texts, from the 1800s falling into the 1900s. I am looking at Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne which was published in 1872, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells which was published in 1895, and The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad which was published in 1907. I am looking specifically at the nature of time and at the way it is written, based on the form and content of those three texts.
How has your dissertation changed from your proposal?
It didn’t change that much, to be fair. I’m still with the three texts I chose for my proposal. I was looking more at science fiction when I submitted my proposal, I have taken a more philosophical route now, and I am looking more at temporal time and its struggle with abstract time.
How did you come to choose this topic and this area of research?
Last year, in my second year, we had to do a proposal for Imaginary Worlds, as part of the assignment and I did a creative proposal about what the world might look like in however many years’ time and that got me thinking about the nature of time. I had already read H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and I was fascinated by the ideas around the nature of time. I spoke with Adam Stock at the end of second year and he introduced me to The Secret Agent and before submitting my proposal I cam up with the idea of joining it with the other two texts.
What are you enjoying most about your dissertation so far?
I am really enjoying the philosophy that I’m having to read. It’s a very interdisciplinary subject, I can’t stick just with literature. It’s all really fascinating and having to then apply it to literature and the way it works it’s challenging but rewarding.
What has been most challenging so far?
Reading Immanuel Kant’s work for sure! Even just understanding it is a challenge. I would advise anyone who’s interested in researching and writing a dissertation on this topic or area of research: make sure you’re truly interested in it, because if you’re not it will be a nightmare.