To many undergrad students, the third and final year of university means one thing: the dreaded dissertation. Or not so dreaded, depending on who you are. But a big deal. Luckily as an art & design student there’s less focus on essays and assignments and more on actual design projects, so a 10,000-word essay isn’t on the books. Instead we’re required to write a 5-6,000 word Critical Research Paper. It’s me. I’m writing about Steampunk.
I don’t really mind writing essays. I write for fun on occasion (surprise surprise, why else would I be blogging?) and have anyways done well in essays in school and my first two years of university. The biggest challenge I’m finding is choosing a damned topic. I’m interested in a lot of things, I quite like reading about things to research them. But finding something to sustain a not insignificant amount of words for an argument is difficult. The first problem I encountered was finding something that actually had academic sources about it – then I found I had so many ideas and sources that it was difficult to narrow it down into an argument to make/question to answer. I found myself looking back at A level Philosophy questions that seemed horrible at the time with something akin to fondness.
Despite it having been around for some time, academic writings about Steampunk are quite difficult to come by, probably as it’s only really become well known in the past ten years or so. But there are some great articles; and a question that people are still trying to answer. “What is Steampunk?” What counts? I’m not going to answer that question. It’s a constant, evolving debate that will never be settled, as the Steampunk subculture and community is ever evolving itself. So I’ve found myself a different question and hopefully through my research will be able to come up with some kind of answer.
How ‘punk’ is ‘Steampunk’? It’s a question that’s been asked before, and the answers range from ‘not at all’, to ‘well…’ and a vague explanation. Let’s hope I can pull together enough research (including primary research at October’s A Splendid Day Out, which is coming up fast!) to come to a well-informed conclusion myself.
(And don’t accidentally quote anything I’ve said here and get done for plagiarising myself).