I am struggling to write a literature review for my dissertation portfolio due on Monday. Help?!
My dissertation is on literary gerontology (the study of ageing in literature). Aside from being unsure how to write a good literature review, my tutor has criticised my work saying that I am slipping into general sociological discussions: "if that is what the critical reading you're looking at does, then you need to tell us that rather than rehearse it." Unfortunately the research I have found in this field is heavily dependent on sociology, so I am unsure how to go about reviewing their work without addressing the sociological points that they make (in, I suppose, a sociological way). He also says at the moment my literature review is too much of a "survey" and needs more structure, but I thought a literature review kinda was a survey!
Help! I really want a First...
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No, what your instructors want is an annotated bibliography of the literature you intend to examine as you move toward your dissertation thesis and development. It is like the opposite of a Bildungsroman, the novel about growing up. You want to find and list, with a short description, the literary works you are going to deal with – Pere Goriot? Steppenwolf? The Summing Up (Maugham)? Shakespeare’s line, “san eyes, sans teeth…”? What English novel treats the old-age years of the protaganist? Or perhaps Mrs. Haversham? Find those works which show how a person’s personality and behavior change as they age. Bartleby? Lear? The instructors are interested to see where you are going with your gerontology study, and they seem particularly interested in philosophical or aesthetic changes, rather than social or physiological changes.
If this is a dissetation in the field of philosophy, my answer may be off-base. "Gerontological literature" may mean "scholarship in gerontology," as "Engineering literature" means "literature on the subject of engineering." The word "literature" is ambiguous here.
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