Constellation feedback – essay and dissertationPosted: January 30, 2015
In my appointment with my constellation tutor from last term, Andrew Broadey, we spoke about both my performance last term and what I plan to do this term in regards to my dissertation. My feedback from last term was overall good, saying that I had consistently contributed lots of good points to the group and engaged people in discussion, however my essay grades were not what I wanted them to be. Although this was only formative feedback on a 500 word essay on Greenberg’s view on Avant Garde vs Kitsch, I still can’t help but be disappointed my grades fell under “good” and “satisfactory”, even though these are not bad grades. Andrew suggested that I make more references to specific examples of Greenberg’s dislike of kitsch, as well as compare him to his contemporaries, but my difficulty was in fitting this all into an essay of only 500 words. I found that by the time I had outlined the general points I had already run over the word count and I’m not sure how I would be able to fit all of these points in unless I mentioned them very briefly with a sentence on each. Perhaps that is what I should be aiming to do, but it feels to me like trying to cram in lots of brief statements on lots of things rather than going into any level of depth with anything detracts from the overall writing level of the essay? If this is practice for our dissertations though this should not be a problem, as at least there will be a much higher word count allowing me to go into detail about all the relevant areas.
In terms of my dissertation plan, I am looking at the relationship between humans and objects, specifically in terms of affection, love and sentimentality. The idea of humans bonding and forming an emotional connection with an object, or with another person through an object is something that has permeated through my work and research the past two years, and is a continuing point of interest for me. We often find ourselves treating objects fondly and that they become very important to us, not because of their intrinsic function (for example a mug containing a drink) but for the emotional connection we have with it, perhaps that object was given to us by someone important in our lives, or it is tied to a certain event in our lives, and should that object get damaged or broken it can be very upsetting even though the object itself can be easily replaced. Objects can provide emotional comfort and warmth in our lives which allow us to express and engage with our emotions even when we don’t have other people in our lives to do this with. It is in these times when objects can become especially valuable, becoming an emotional crutch and supporting us through hard times by reminding us that we still are capable of those connections and simulating that relationship that we are missing.
When talking about this with Andrew Broadey, he repeatedly brought up the notion of fetishism and collectors. While I understand the point he was making in that they also attach importance to objects above and beyond their primary function, I feel this is a very extreme end of the scale of what I am looking at. Fetishism is a very loaded and often demeaning term, which refers to a level of attachment that is unhealthy and to be avoided, often obscene, whereas what I am looking at is almost the opposite of that. I think that an affectionate and warm relationship between a person and object is something that is almost to be encouraged, providing them with a gentle and healthy expression of their positive emotions. While there is the risk of this a person then progressing from this into a fetishistic obsession, that is only in the case of a person developing an unhealthy relationship and becoming fixated on the object in question, which is not what I am looking at. It is like saying when looking at the loving relationship between two people and the positive effects that can have, to then be considering jealous and possessive relationships, which while they may in some instances cross over are often very separate from one another and should not be viewed under the same umbrella. I feel perhaps this is Andrew’s view being skewed by the fact this is a strong focus in his area of research, on fetishism and collection, and so he is approaching my topic through that lens as that is what he is trained to do.