Well, I’m close to finishing my last uni courses before I can start my M.A. thesis, and I can’t decide on a proper research question.
If you’ve read this blog before, you probably know that I am studying for my Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Communication by distance learning. Unfortunately, that means that I do not know my course-mates and have nobody at uni to actually talk about thesis ideas.
My background is in Journalism and Tourism Management, however, in the 6 years since I graduated with my B.A. (Hons) I’ve gotten more into literature and theatre. I still love writing, but I’m doing more features, theatre and book reviews and occasional interviews than news.
Considering I’m doing cross-cultural communication now, I am very interested in how we see other cultures. Being aware of cultural similarities and differences can take so many forms. I’m not the business management minded person who’d love to spend her life teaching a German business what to consider culturally when expanding to China. I’m more interested in how we form our views and prejudices of other cultures.
I’d love to research how culture is represented in literature. Because an American author writing about America will differ in their descriptions from a British author writing about America. The author’s native culture is always reflected their writing, how their characters behave, how they speak, how they do everyday things. We form ideas of places and cultures based on what we read or watch.
Over the last year, I’ve read a lot of Sherlock fan fiction. And every time, I can immediately tell whether the author is a Brit or not. Sometimes it’s a word (usually “cell” instead of “mobile” or “Sidewalk” instead of “pavement”), sometimes it’s a hospital scene (the US authors always mention insurance and paying for the service, when medical services are free on the NHS).
The same happens with established, traditionally published authors, even after months of editing. Globalisation in literature is just as noticeable as globalisation in theatre. Especially non-Western cultures often get Westernized to appeal more to that audience. An Asian play performed in Asia will differ from an Asian play performed in front of a Western audience, as there is no shared cultural background, and actions and even props need to be adapted to make them relevant and understandable for the audience.
I am just unsure how to word this to make it my thesis. Culture in literature and globalisation in theatre are the two topics I am most interested in. Writing and reading are my two passions next to travel, and cultural understanding has always been a topic close to my heart. I’d love to stay within publishing, but shifting from journalism to literature. And just for your information, my B.A. (Hons) dissertation was market research and analysis comparing four leading UK travel magazines – it counted as a business dissertation and was twice as long as a journalism one would have been.
We’ve focused a lot on psychology and personality types, non-violent communication and language issues, but these modules presume that everybody doing cultural communication wants to go into business and nothing else.
So if any of you have any ideas how I can turn those passions into a thesis idea I’d appreciate some brainstorming. I’ve been pretty much alone in this up to this point, but now I’m in need of bouncing ideas around.