The aim today was to read some past dissertations, which are all available in the department reading room. There are about 10 dissertations per year on average, on a wild variety of subjects. Last year's marks ranged from between 71 and 57, but one on Marvell, which scored an admirable 65. I selected this and the lowest marked piece, reading the latter first. Perhaps I got scared very quickly: it looked like a complex, detailed piece of writing, on a topic I've got no clue about - and this would gain a 57. However, I was bored of it after about four sides, and chose not to read any more. The other was on Marvell and Architecture, and a wonderful piece of writing. This was far more encouraging in my eyes: generally simpler and more accesible to read, very well structured, and let down by occasional mistakes in academic conventions, and a loose bibliography. And again, it looked as though so much research had gone into this: looking into the intricate history of Palladian architecture, and it was easy to see how this person had picked a terrific subject, quite right to acclaim that very little has been written about it, and I really learnt something from it, perhaps which I could use in my own.
I took a break from that for my 10:00am lecture, and felt huffed that, because of essay due in tomorrow and weak attendance, I was not only the only person in the front row, but almost the front two, and yet the lecturing PhD student didn't give me a handout, he just passed them all straight to the back. Not used to feeling huffy in the Lecture Theatre; but it was a decent lecture, and I was cheered by the fact that my departmental idol, Dr. S.C / Stephen Cheeke will give every Thursday lecture now until the end of the term. Sat with machine coffee and organised file, trying to get everything in order, and then back to the dissertation pile, where I searched further. Over the past 11 years, I've found, as Simon informed me previously, the mark range between 85 and 45, and more specifically for my own cause, found two more dissertations on Marvell: one scoring 68 and the other 70+. I looked at the first: remarkably colloquial in intentions: 'Marvell and Choice', and spends the first two sides talking about the inability to find a title, so just thought they'd 'choose' a handful of Marvell's poems ~ I could do that - for 68! I need to remember that my effort is not based on Marvell alone ~ far from it. Some of the topics within the pile were fascinating, none I saw like my own, and not all rewarded with massive marks. The encouraging and terrifying fact is that 3 pieces have been written on Marvell, and the lowest, a wonderful piece, only scores 65. I am starting to feel very scared inside about this.
All English students with the exception of a few Year 3 Dissertating students have an essay to hand in tomorrow. Simon has been in to see his tutor regularly, prepared it and written it comfortably in advance, and is so expertly prepared that he deserves to do so well. Thinking back to this period last year, I feel envious of the luxury of time and non-illness he has had, but am delighted to see him take full advantage and can't wait to see the rewards. But with that said, it feels worse not handing in an essay, because it feels like I've done nothing, and in coinciding with this time of year, I have done, in relative terms, very little over this past fortnight - it doesn't feel like too much in the context of the 15/16 weeks available, but I just hope the panic that's creeping in proves to be a positive catalyst and not an uncomfortable one. All in adding to the confusion, which I knew would happen from spending half the night thinking and writing 'I'm set to leave Bristol soon', I spent time with Simon today realising the benefits of possibly staying for Postgrad. work here: but it's all getting a little tangled and complicated. Coincidentally, the best source of funding, Arts Bursaries, has a deadline of tomorrow, which is impossible. Mind is leaping from idea to idea, place to place, changing mind every week, and if this dissertation doesn't go well, it's all fairly futile anyway. So many options make for a good headache, but getting pretty confused now with this all piling in at once. Leave the Bitterness Behind, a song by the electronic synth group The Second Sight helped me get over my grandad's death forementioned on Valentines Day a few years back; I wouldn't mind some music to magically soothe the mind again. I'll see what I have, and must crack on like mad.