Thesis or Dissertation Survival Guide

Sample Topic:  Post-Colonial Over-Compensation in V. S. Naipaul's In a Free State, The Enigma of Arrival, and A Way In the World 
flowchart by susan smith nash, ph.d.

I was first drawn to the travel writing of V. S. Naipaul because his descriptions of the cultures he observed were not superficial, nor were they processed through the typical "Western filter" that typifies so many travel narratives.  Instead, V. S. Naipaul approaches travel and cultural writing from a position of extreme dislocation -- from his own cultural identity (an ethnic Indian born in Trinidad),  from the fraying colonial geographical and "values" maps of the world, and from deep within the subsurface social machines that drive cultures, despite surface  indications and official rhetoric.  His characters are deeply conflicted, and they seek a place in the world.  Often that requires them to create a new identity, or to refurbish their old one by realigning it with values that served well in the past.  It is an interesting interplay of psychology, culture, groups, and change.   

Below is one approach to a study of the work of V. S. Naipaul.

1---Abstract:  One-paragraph overview, 250 words or less.


         Thesis statement - This study investigates how three of V. S. Naipaul's novels explore and offer explanations for the often vexed issues of self and society, identity, values, exile, and diaspora in the 20th century through a phenomenon that could be characterized as colonial overcompensation.

Why the work is needed - three reasons / justifications

Key Terms and Definitions

*** What is Post-Colonial Overcompensation??
Colonial psychology - identity / values / hierarchies
Post-colonial holdovers - values, attitudes, internalized attitudes toward self and others
Colonialist literature
Exile vs diaspora
Social structure
Perceived hierarchy

Previous Work (Literature Review) - V. S. Naipaul
Primary Works
Secondary Works (by category) - about V. S. Naipaul and his writing
Other similar works -- Author / Researcher / School
Other secondary works that deal with post-colonial writers / critics
(an analysis focused on critical construct or concepts)

Necessary Background (Bio):   V. S. Naipaul

6 -
Historical Contexts:   V. S. Naipaul and the settings and circumstances of his novels

Analysis of Each Work - analyzing the concept of post-colonial overcompensation to each work - each includes a) background and contexts of the work; b) themes and issues; c) prevailing critical responses; d) application to the concept of post-colonial overcompensation; e) specific examples.

In a Free State
b---The Enigma of Arrival
c---A Way in the World

8---Meta-Analysis  -- toward a deeper understanding of post-colonial overcompensation as manifested in literary texts

graphics & survival guide © 2004 by susan smith nash, ph.d.