Dissertation Corner with Hannah Tetlow: American Masculinity at the end of the Nineteenth Century

In this week’s instalment of Dissertation Corner we talk to Hannah Tetlow about her project on American Masculinity at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

Tell us about your dissertation, what is it about?

My dissertation is about the changing nature of American masculinity and identity at the end of the 19th century, and how the anxieties that were felt by American men at this time were explored in literature. 

How did you choose the texts for your dissertation?

I’m looking at two texts by Stephen Crane and Jack London, that are similar in style but very different in terms of addressing these anxieties. I chose to study London because I had read some of his work before and just loved his style and felt that there was a lot of close reading that I could get from his writing. I chose Crane after having studied his ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ in second year for American Lit, Space and Place and feeling very overwhelmed (in a good way) after that – there is no holding back in his realist style which makes his work very emotionally impacting.

Has your project changed much since the proposal stage?

My project has changed loads since the proposal – I originally was going to look at femininity and thought about studying Kate Chopin, but since having my tutorials with Fraser Mann I’ve narrowed down my project loads and focused on masculinity, it’s actually something I haven’t written on before so I’m enjoying writing and researching this topic.

What have you enjoyed most about the project?

I think the research aspect is something I’ve enjoyed most because I’ve found so many great, informative and useful books that have both helped with my dissertation but also just expanded my knowledge in general.

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

Working with a supervisor who is as helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic as Fraser has definitely made this project a lot easier and rewarding, its so encouraging when an academic supervisor praises your work and helps you to constantly improve.