My dissertation plan, please help! add anything to the list if you must. thanks

missgiggles's picture

Please add anything you think is appropriate to the list if you must. Thank you :)

The Art of Persuasion


-What power is and how it affects our attitudes and
reactions to certain thing in society.
-It’s influences on people and how it psychologically
works with our minds.
- How it affects us and our daily lives generally.
Have a part that can leads into referring to the past
of Christianity, Egyptian Era and beyond.

Part 1

- Christianity and how people saw it as their lives.
Christianity made their lives. It was some form of
- Egyptian Pharaohs etc. They had power over the
people. They Pharaohs had gold which equals power
because rich and wealthy and therefore able to have
anything and everything they ever wish for, thus
making them hierarchy and powerful.
- Alexander the Great. His statue was made to look
powerful and so the people chose him as leader
although they had never seen the guy before! He was
noway like he was in real life so they were persuaded
by the power of the statue to remind them who their
leader was and who t hey should aspire to.
- Renaissance onwards, talking about church, mosques
(architecture and how it helped people to believe in
religions etc - Not sure on the architecture bit
because I have not yet looked into it).
- You once mentioned the Notre dam Cathedral (again,
need to research, not sure what it is about though.)
- Are Romans important enough in this context? Should
they be included? And if so, in what form?

Part 2

- Propaganda posters = World War I (Hitler and how he
was backed by his people even though he was in the
- Uncle Sam War posters 'WE WANT YOU'
- You mentioned at one point about Goebbels, Minister
of Germany (need to look into, I am not sure what it
is though).
- Triumph of the Will film which is a propaganda film
by Leni Riefenstahl (German film maker)
- Eternal Jew film from 1940. Anti Semitic.
-Would I have to mention quotes from Genesis?
- Italian Fascism ruling between World War I and World
War II. Hitler was inspired by Italian Fascism.
- deconstruct advertising after World War I and II
- Barbara Kruger, born 1945 and worked as guerrilla
artist. Guerrilla art is philosophical thus, focuses
more on ‘cause and effect’ Her work was
black, red and white therefore relates to Hitler in
some form; also the Russian Constructivism.

- You mentioned Robin Hood so I might speak to you
about it I think. Is it because he was seen as a
legend and a hero because he gave money to the poor
but then was seen as bad because he robbed passers by
to do it?

Part 3

-Advertising, packaging etc How we decide on what to
buy and which brands. is it because they stand out as
quality via packaging design or are they well
established companies and so they tend to appeal more?
Or what would people on a budget generally go for and
why? Is it financial situations that help us decide
which brand of product to buy or some other
psychological aspect that needs looking into i.e.
colour psychology advertisers and designers use to
attract people to buy their products. Is it the
'celebrity endorsement' technique they use to persuade
people to buy to represent 'quality' ?
- I might choose certain design pieces of advertising,
branding or packaging that I can expand on in terms of
persuading the consumer to buy. How and why? Including
colours used which have certain connotations, choice
of graphics and typeface used etc and why? Who are
they aiming for and how successful they are in
targeting their chosen T.A and how they do it. What
methods and how ideas work.
-TV advertising. Effective use of type, image and
sound and how long they last for. Humans don't have
long attention spans, therefore advertisers have to
accomodate in a short, clear, concise manner.


Overall message and what i found out etc Sum out my
findings. Should be strong and to the point so reader
left to make their own mind up whether they agree or
not. Not sure at this moment in time.

FlorianCH's picture

Well, that is ample material for at least a dozen dissertations. Reduce to the max.


charles ellertson's picture

Persuasion can come from reasoning, and the tool of reasoning is the argument. Arguments an be (1) conclusive, such "All A is B, All B is C, therefore All A is C." Conclusive arguments are usually what are termed "truths of logic, or formal truths, and are pretty boring.

Arguments can also be (2) compelling, which take the same form as (1), but disputes arise because the premises aren't commonly agreed to, and the form of disputation is usually an attempt to refine the premises so both parties reach agreement. Usually agreement over premises isn't reached, but it is a lot more fun than formal logic. Another term for this would be "critical thinking."

It appears this is a form of persuasion (rational argumentation) is not what you are after. Taking a convenient dicotomy (reason versus emotion), you appear to be after chronicling persuasion that appeals to emotional issues. But this is a terribly presumptive dicotomy; read Blink. I found Chapter 3 particularly interesting; my understanding of this chapter was that the very thing that lets us function well without a syllogistic analysis also requires us to rely on generalizations. Generalizations are quick, useful summations which are known to contain untruths as well as truths, so don't lend themselves to becoming "absolutes." One form of this is the "stereotype," which is, roughly, a generalization once useful, but either not currently useful or far less useful than formerly. Stereotypes lead to, in Gladwell's terms, "the dark side of thin-slicing."

Now there is a point to all this. Most of us allow that there is some -- and sometimes a lot -- of truth of generalizations. Advertisements appeal to generalizations, while trying to get us to ignore the places where the generalization breaks down. How successful they are depends on how well they get us to ignore that breakdown. Not much has changed since Generation of Vipers.

I find your inclusion of Religion strange. Religious truths are revealed truths. If the truth has not been revealed to you, you do not accept it; i.e., if it has not been revealed to you, no reasoning process will change your mind. This isn't to say religious truths are wrong, simply that they are of a different form.

I once had a professor who, when we complained about the Ph.D. exams told us "Exams are puberty rites. Get past them." His view on the dissertation was that it was one more term paper, designed to please the small audience of your adviser and his friends. Success there lead to a degree, a job, and eventually tenure. Any search for truth could wait until after you had tenure. He persuaded me. After passing exams, I quit academics; time was too precious.


blank's picture

Your writing is not very coherent, so I may not understand where you are going at all, but here goes:

Keep in mind that that while imagery as a persuasive tool did exist in the past, the reasons leaders stayed in power and religions were a greater factor in life are far more complicated than anything that can be boiled down to the visual arts. For example, while Alexander may have sent forth a stone simulacrum as an emissary, people were probably caving in to him to avoid their nations being razed by his armies.

If you do examine Nazism look into Albert Speer. He was essentially Hitler’s head of design, and wrote a big fat memoir about his work in the Third Reich.

Trying to connect propaganda from the second world war with modern advertising is too much of a stretch. The war propaganda was total (as any true propaganda system must be); governments put out their messages in every media in existence. Aside from Coca-Cola’s ubiquitous advertising, there has never been any commercial advertising that comes close to reaching the level of propaganda at all, much less WWII propaganda.

Florian is right, you really need to boil this down to something much simpler. What you seem to be proposing would generate a stack of research notes larger than the Mahabarata, getting a dissertation out of that would be a nightmare.

sandrosandro's picture

You wrote World War I and Hitler in the same line. He was house decorator in that time. :D

timd's picture

Hitler served in the Imperial German army through the First World War and was wounded and decorated, it is not unreasonable to link the propaganda of the time to his subsequent life.

The line that he was “backed by his people even though he was in the wrong” reveals a hindsight view of history that will confuse the issue.

I, like others, suspect that this is too broad a topic for a dissertation and making some of those links coherent will be problematical.


hrant's picture

Hitler was elected democratically! :-/


blank's picture

Hitler was elected democratically! :-/

He was, but the Nazi party did not get unchecked power until it used the Reichstag fire as an excuse to suspend the Weimar constitution. I doubt that many German voters saw that one coming, although they probably should have.

hrant's picture

> I doubt that many German voters saw that one coming

As a rule voters don't get much.


William Berkson's picture

The idea that Hitler was elected democratically is misleading, as he never got a majority, but was appointed over a divided opposition. Then he used criminal means to secure power. Here is a version of the story. I don't know about the guy who writes it, but he quotes pretty reliable historians.

hrant's picture

More bogus democracy apologism.


William Berkson's picture

I once talked with the widow of the man who was head of the Communist Party of Germany during the time of the Nazi takeover. She said that the party did not ally with the center parties--which would have created a majority--because they thought that Hitler was so bad that the people supporting the center would soon react against him, and go over to them, and then the Communists could take over. In other words, they did not try to make democracy work, but relied on a reaction to put them in power. "That was our guilt," she said.

Of course it was not surprising that the Party did not try to make democracy work, as Marx, like Hrant, was contemptuous of democracy.

William Berkson's picture

I am feeling guilty about participating in hijacking Miss G's thread, so I'll make a suggestion:

Miss G., focus on one clear question about persuasion, and look at different competing answers to it.

Your proposal so far sounds like one of those papers I got from students that whose first words were, "Ever since the beginning of time...". Whenever I saw that phrase I would have to restrain myself from throwing the paper into the trash, and instead steel myself to try to be fair. Not the reaction you want.

hrant's picture

> I am feeling guilty about participating in hijacking

Don't worry, you have much more serious things to feel guilty about.


William Berkson's picture

>you have much more serious things to feel guilty about

No doubt I have done worse things. But you don't know me, nor what I have done for good or ill in the world.

drinktoomuch's picture

so we've got a stupid idiot who shold soak a tyre in petrol, hang itaround her neck and set fire to it, anazi, and a religous fanatic. why dont u all find aplace to be to getherand get laid?

Lex Kominek's picture

Welcome to Typophile, drinktoomuch.~

- Lex

hrant's picture

I'm much worse than a nazi, I'm a monarchist. You peon.


lherrou's picture


Not to hijack the thread too far off the current course (heh heh), but I have to agree with some of the others that this is, to say the least, an ambitious self-assignment. Wouldn't hurt to narrow it down a little. What's your field, or what would the Ph.D be in?

Just as a starting point, here's a reading list on "Advertising and the art of persuasion" someone already compiled. Note that it's 40+ pages long, yet at a quick glance I can already see holes in it, and it doesn't even venture into the historical perspective as you propose to do.

Any SINGLE one of the bullet points in Part 2 and Part 3 would probably be enough to build a dissertation around. I suspect you are looking to do a dissertation which is a more comprehensive whole than a focused inquiry, but there are problems with that approach, one being that there will always be holes that your dissertation committee can, should they choose, drive trucks through. If you focus enough, you should be able to wow them with your detailed level of knowledge, yet be able to fit your topic into larger ones (typically one near and dear to their hearts - be sure to do the research on your committee members!).

Nick Shinn's picture

Faz, I agree with Todd, it's probably better to draw general conclusions from a few deeply-analysed examples.

To get a sense of history, you don't need the whole narrative, just compare a couple of points in time, the rest will fall into place.

ebensorkin's picture

Nice posts Nick/Todd!

missgiggles's picture

Hmmm...I know it is soooooo vast. I don't know what to do and how should I narrow it down? Should I change the title and focus on, I don't know? Just posters or advertising or...any other suggestions? What about Pursuasion of German graphics during the war? Please help. Thanks.

timd's picture

Narrow it down by choosing a subject you are either interested in or already know about, my impression is that German graphics during World War II is a subject that might be interesting but as has been noted it was propaganda and was backed up by men in leather coats, it would be difficult to gauge the persuasiveness of the graphics separate from the secret police and the full state apparatus without deep understanding of the situation Germans found themselves in.


missgiggles's picture

hmmm...okay but do you think I could find enough info for an 8000 word dissertation?

pattyfab's picture

Please don't take offense, Faz, but isn't this the sort of thing it makes sense to sit down and talk to your tutor about? Is it not part of their job to advise you on selecting and narrowing your focus? I'm just not sure throwing it out there onto a typography forum is going to give you the kind of answers you're looking for. Your dissertation is a really big deal—you're going to spend the next year writing it, you're going to have to defend it—and I for one feel you should be doing this sort of legwork yourself rather than asking us to do it for you. This is problem you've encountered here before...

missgiggles's picture

I am not asking anyone to do my dissertation for me am I? I am asking for people's advice. I'm not asking for a title or anything either? I'm the one who has done the thinking here. Now I jsut need advice. I could have just asked 'what should I do my dissertation on?' but no! I haven't so what is the problem here? Sorry but if you're out to get me again, you can forget it. I know you said 'no offence' but I have spoken to teh tutor and he said it is all absolutely fine but i'm not sure whetehr I can tackle such a vast subject so I just wanted help on narrowing it down from my original idea, that's all. Nothing more. I can put it forward again and see the responce I get because it is going to be massive and squashing it in 8000 words, could be bigger and because I have dyslexia, its harder as I get frustrated really easily with too much words, reading and too much info so yup.

timd's picture

Faz, I think Patty is correct to warn that we might not be the best people to advise you, your tutor knows you and what you are capable of, he is, therefore, in the best position to advise you. You have consistently received the advice that you are taking on a vast subject and you have expressed your own doubts, my feeling is that there is more than enough to write 8,000 words from your topics in your introduction without relating to historical (pre-1960) references. The Barbara Kruger/Guerilla Art reference in your list could make for interesting comparison to an advertising campaign and what happens when marketing tries to co-opt guerilla art.


missgiggles's picture

Ok sorry but he says its ok. I don't personally believe that because it is far too big to research. It's going to drive me mental don;t you think? I have to tell him I want to narrow it down. See what he says? I haven't expressed my concern to him yet but jsut thought it would be useful asking on here because my tutor may not be aware of something missing and someone else could looking at it from d different perspective. Nevermind.

typequake's picture

You should start by reading The Craft of Research.
It'll teach you a great deal about writing a dissertation.

missgiggles's picture

Haha! funny...I have done reaserch to help me come to the above conclusions. All i asked was did I miss anything? That's all...and an additional joke is a bonus.

wormwood's picture

"worse than a nazi, I’m a monarchist"

Now you're just splitting heirs.

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