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Clark Kent

English EE on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Series?

Hey guys. I'm deciding on a topic and research question for my English A1 EE. I'm in my 2nd year of IB and am currently in the middle of my summer holidays, so i figured i should get a start on my EE.

Basically i've talked to my supervisor about authors and when I brought up Pullman she actually thought it was a good idea and since there weren't many other authors I was interested in writing on, I decided to stick with it. Firstly, is this a good idea writing on modern, fantasy literature? Like do examiners tend to dislike this type of EE, do they prefer more traditional, older, more literature-renowned works?

For the topic on Pullman's series, i'm mainly intrigued by the religious aspect of the series, and think it would be interesting for me to write about and for others to read if i was able to do a good enough job. So far i've thought of "the treatment of religion in Pullman's series", which i decided was way too vague. So i came up with "to what extent can Pullman's series be considered an anti-Christian work?".

I'm not entirely sure if these questions sound stupid or if there are other better research questions and topics out there. I know i should consult my supervisor but the trouble is its summer holidays and the school emails currently down, and i want to get started on this while im still motivated, so any help would be appreciated. Let me know if u need any more details. Please help me out. Thanks a bunch :)

dan

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This all sounds good. A lot of people will go for the more traditional classic/set-texts to write on - but that's not necessarily a good idea, since, by definition, a lot of (other) people must be doing so too. Better to be original and new, not rely too much on secondary sources, refer closely to the text etc. All well and good with Pullman, who is quite a literary author despite his intended audience.

Religion seems to be the obvious one of course and it's a good idea but you're going to have a hard time confining the topic to 4000 words. It is almost certainly an anti-Christian work but you want to be looking at how Pullman achieves that effect, why he does so, etc. I recommend rereading the whole series making detailed notes, floating ideas, discussing with your teacher to whittle down the topic so it fits into that 4000-word gap. Religion-related quotes won't be hard to find (death of God, for example?) and they should be versatile (i.e. usable in different situations) so you can probably record them even before you have a clear-cut and precise idea about your topic.

good luck.

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As a rule it's not a big deal whether you write on a classic or a more modern book. Pros of classics are that there's usually more supporting literature other people have written... cons would be that the examiners often know the book really well, so if you get something a bit wrong, or miss something out, they'll know :P

I'd call Pullman's stuff a modern classic so those pros and cons might actually apply anyway, ahah.

Your line of enquiry and general question sound good to me. Just be sure to focus on the literature and not accidentally get carried away by writing in the christian bit is my advice, in case you get tempted. I'm sure you will, but it never hurts to say.

My advice at this point would be to re-read them all with your question in mind and begin pulling out all of the aspects of your argument. The biggest thing to make sure is that your question is going to take exactly 4,000 words -- no more and no less! You don't want a question that's too big or too small. By starting to pull your argument out you should get a feel for how much you have to say and whether you'll need to consider narrowing it down or widening it out a little bit.

Also start investigating supporting literature you can reference :) Sometimes you can get some decent ideas from it.

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Yeah a lot of people at my school are doing there's on Twilight and stuff, so you should be alright.

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Yeah a lot of people at my school are doing there's on Twilight and stuff, so you should be alright.

For real? :P I'm not going to pretend that there's nothing addictive about Twilight, but I'd be hard put to identify anything intentional about the way it's written. It's probably easier to find literary features in your maths book... it's just, what, speech and the odd simile. If that! I can't believe somebody would even attempt to write a serious essay on it :)

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Thanks heaps for the replies guys! Um well I was thinking, if i was to reread the series again, I would annotate all those quotes and ideas to do with religion as a whole, and as I identify all of these I'll come up with a more detailed research question. Daedalus, for your suggestion on exploring how Pullman achieves it, i came up with 'How does Pullman successfully make a traditionally "good" body (The Church), into the main, "evil" antagonist in HDM?' The wording still needs a bit of work because i just came up with it in a couple seconds... I thought there might be enough to write about how Pullman is able to exchange the two main bodies of the Church and the Rebellion, making the Church evil and the Rebellion (that which Satan began) seem good in the story. What are your thoughts on that? I will most definitely reread the series to gather some more knowledge and quotes.

Sandwich, do u think that if i changed the focus to something more like above, i would be able to focus a bit more on literature? But I just want to clarify what you actually mean by focusing on the literature? Do u mean I should have some literary analysis in it? Because I've seen an A-grade essay on LOTR about feminist aspects and it didn't have much literary analysis in it... But I'm pretty sure that my definition of 'literary analysis' is incorrect and is probably why i think so. :) could u clarify that for me please?

Thanks again for the help :P

dan

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