In this week’s instalment of Dissertation Corner, Georgia Fenwick tells us about her project on women and conflict in the world of G. R. R. Martin!
Tell us about your dissertation, what is it about?
I’m studying the representation of women and the conflicts they face in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and it’s TV adaptation ‘Game of Thrones’.
How did you choose the texts for your dissertation?
At the end of second year I found myself struggling to decide what I actually enjoyed reading. There was a part of me that felt my area of enjoyment was not ‘professional’ enough to be the subject of my dissertation as I constantly compared myself to my classmates, wondering why their topic was so much more interesting! I met with Anne-Marie who immediately dismissed my worries with words of support and ideas for texts I could use. With her suggestions, and some new-found confidence, I spent the summer exploring new texts and rereading my favourites to decide what would be the best fit for my dissertation.
Has your project changed much since the proposal stage?
The premise of analysing female characters in fantasy novels has stayed the same, but my texts and focus have changed slightly. I initially desired to examine the development of female characters over time by using Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of The Rings’ series to represent the 60s era and Tom and Giovanna Fletcher’s ‘Eve of Man’ as a contemporary comparison but realised I could do this by analysing Martin’s series over time, using the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series to really explore the significance of time progression and modern societal issues.
Why are you interested in this topic?
I have always loved reading the fantasy genre and became intrigued by the portrayal of female characters, finding that they often conform to traditional stereotypes despite being set in an imaginary world. The idea of exploring this further with a series written in the 90s whilst awaiting the final books in 2019, and being able to compare it to its adaptation was extremely exciting. The element of time progression and Martin’s own development as a writer and producer has been fascinating to evaluate.
What have you enjoyed most about the project?
I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to do so much research on a project of my own choice; being able to use my interests and attempt to make a difference by analysing such a worldwide phenomenon.
What has it been like working closely with an academic supervisor?
My dissertation supervisor is Dr. Liesl King and my experience thus far has been incredible! Being able to work so closely with a professional has been eye-opening due to her vast knowledge of critics that suit my topic, her education surrounding my subject, and her general life advice. I find that I am always less stressed after meeting with Liesl and she has ensured that I work my hardest to achieve my desired outcome. Having this opportunity at the end of your degree is extremely rewarding and makes you feel somewhat accomplished as a literature student.