In this week’s visit to dissertation corner, Tia Byer speaks to current student Phil Price.
Tell us about your dissertation.
My dissertation is focusing on dystopian literature from the 1930s-1940s. My chosen texts include George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In particular, I am analyzing the representation of families and the workspace under dystopian government.
My first chapter questions, ‘How does controlling Information and Language aid in maintaining the totalitarian society and Technology’. Here, I analyze the influences and dominance of technology within the dystopian workspace, drawing conclusions between the two opposing lifestyles presented. I will be looking at how although in both texts people are presented in ‘machine-like’ manners; Orwell suggests that this derives from fear, whilst Huxley’s characters suffer from delusions. This chapter also includes things such as consumerism and the governmental control of information and language.
The second chapter focuses on the home and children. This analysis is character specific and looks at how love and relationships are able to occur under to opposing schemes. I contrast Huxley’s use of the biopolitical state, wherein relationships are futile due to the ability to drift between sexual partners without consequences, with Orwell’s totalitarian states where love is a taboo. As a byproduct of love and relationships, children and their societal roles are contrasted in each text. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, children are spies. They constantly observe their parent’s loyalty, whilst in Brave New World, hypnopaedia (sleep teaching) means children are informed of and indoctrinated into their societal roles from their birth.
How has your dissertation changed from your proposal?
The ideas I am using have stayed mainly the same. However, lots of new theories have been implemented in order to build the argument I am making.
How did you come to choose this topic and this research area?
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of the first dystopian texts I read during A-Level, and have been fascinated with it ever since. I felt it would only be right to use for my dissertation, and with the number of similarities and differences which occur between Orwell and Huxley’s work, Brave New World was the appropriate counterpart for discussing families and the workplace.
What are you enjoying about your dissertation so far?
As previously mentioned, Nineteen Eighty-Four was a text I have already studied, however, during A-Level we barely touched the surface. The application of theorists such as Hannah Arendt and Foucault to understand how things such as power can be so similar yet different over the two texts has fascinated me.
What would you say has been the most challenging so far?
Having to manage writing alongside researching throughout the project. I am used to doing all of the research at the beginning and then using it to write my assignment. A lot of the research hasn’t made it into my dissertation but has helped me understand the topic a lot more. Some of the theories I have used have been particularly challenging. For instance, I had to read ’Discipline and Punish’ multiple times because it is so dense.