Choosing an appropriate research topic in English Literature for a PhD is difficult. There are numerous research subjects available. Here are some pointers on how to find an English Literature PhD research topic that is perfect for you.
Asking your professor what they researched while working on their Ph.D. is a tried and true way to find a research topic in English Literature. After that, you must look for new themes that are currently trending. Take someone who has won an award or received the Nobel Prize; it is always the best. Every year, honours are offered to authors who have made significant contributions to English literature. Select a topic from the list.
1. Pick the correct author to research.
You’re about to select an author for your Ph.D. in English literature research. This is important, and you should take your time with it. You want to ensure that the author is interested in pique the interest of everyone in the literary academic community. The author’s words must elicit thought, questioning, and analysis in the reader.
Start with a wide overview, looking at a variety of authors. Reduce the scope of your search gradually. You must establish a connection with the author: what is the significance of their work, why does it appeal to you, will it appeal to academics, is there enough to write about, and is it relevant? Examine how much work they have written and make certain you can obtain copies of the books.
Relevance is important. Gender, history, politics, art, feminism, sexism, and the way tales are presented and who tells them, is a primary priority in our time. This author will be the basis for your PhD. Their words should be relevant, challenging, and meaningful. This author should be interesting to read and whose work you enjoy.
2. Learn more about the author’s books
Reading and research are the two most important things you will do as an academic. You should read all you can about the author of your choice, not simply the books written by that author. Reading not only educates you, but it also excites you and helps you develop your unique writing style.
The more you know about the author, the easier it will be to develop an English literature research topic. Read as many of their books as possible and books or articles written on them. You’ll start to feel as if you know and understand the author after a while. This is exactly what you’re looking for. In every way, the more you read, the more knowledgeable you become.
Spend time in libraries if you can’t find the books — some are obscure. Libraries, for example, are ideal for writing a PhD because of the bookshelves, space, isolation, and, of course, history. Remember, you’re looking for new perspectives or information on the author. Look online, at libraries, and don’t be afraid to ask your professors if they have any books you may borrow.
3. Learn out more about the author’s private life
You may already be aware that an author’s work does not have to reflect their own personal experiences. Which means you don’t just want to learn about an author’s written words when you’re researching them? These are important words. Their words, on the other hand, are as important. Personal life also provides valuable insight into the author. Did they work alone if they had children, and how did they die?
When we talk about personal words, we’re also talking about personal lives. An author can have multiple personalities since the written word differs from the ‘living word.’ Perhaps they openly write about sexuality yet are profoundly conservative in real life. This is an interesting Ph.D. topic. It’s important to understand how the author lives her personal life.
To learn about an author’s personal life, you’ll have to go into vast worlds of information. This will be interesting for both you and your reader. You must also be cautious in today’s age of bogus news. Always double-check your sources to ensure sure you’re getting and selecting the correct information. Read, read, and then some more.
4. Read all of the novels thoroughly
This may appear severe, but as we’ve already stated, a successful Ph.D. in English Literature is all about reading and research. You’ve written on an author and compiled a list of his or her books. Now you’re going to read in a quiet area or at your desk. We’ve said it before, but the more you read, the more you’ll learn.
Spend the next ten days doing nothing but reading. You will be immersed in the author’s words, subjects, feelings, emotions, history, religion, characters, sexuality, gender, and more in this way. The more you read, the better you will understand your chosen author and begin to feel and think as he or she did or does. Remember that reading not only informs but also inspires you.
As you read, make notes. Select a pen or highlighter and underline the passages that make you to think deeply. Paragraphs, characters, emotions, and metaphors can all be cross-referenced. Make a mental note of everything that strikes you as significant, amazing, odd, or surprising. Return to your notes. Your Ph.D. might be able to relate to your first few notes. Keep all of your reading materials as well; you’ll need them one day. All Ph.D. students appear to be purchasing new bookcases!
5. Write a list of the summaries on your own
Writing is the most effective way to comprehend and remember information. The more you write, the easier it will be to remember things. Write your own summaries after reading a book or a few chapters. Because your time is likely limited, summaries are beneficial. Additionally, when you write a summary, things start to become clearer, and you may have an epiphany.
If the book you’re reading includes 15 chapters, you might want to summarise each one. This is a personal choice – and it obviously depends on the books – but more summaries are preferable over fewer. Summarize in your own words, and you’ll find that summaries help you find your own style. Make sure your summaries correspond to the books you’re reading.
When we say write, we mean that you may enjoy both writing and typing. This is a private matter. Academics are frequently seen pounding away at their keyboards in front of their laptops. You can type all you want, but writing with a pen and paper can occasionally get your creative juices going in a new way. Writing forces you to think and allows you to perceive things in a new way. Always, as much as possible, write.
6. Study literary theories in a class
There are numerous online literary theory courses from which to choose, and we recommend that you enrol in one. The literary theory may appear academic and intimidating at first, but after you understand it, you’ll be well on your way to writing a successful and well-respected Ph.D. Take a peek at how many top universities provide literary theory courses. That way, you’ll realise how important it is to complete one.
A literary theory course will alter your way on language, literature, society, and self-identity. You will understand your critical reading abilities and better understand theoretical words like postcolonialism, deconstruction, and Marxist criticism by taking a course. A literary theory course will provide you with all of the tools you’ll need to dissect, criticise, analyse, and comprehend your author, subject, or topic.
You must find a literary theory course that will assist you with your subject. A literary theory class will understand how to approach literature, criticism vs. theory, structure, analysis, and psycho-analysis of the subject and author. You can enrol in one literary theory course and complete it on your own time. There are numerous online courses available; take one to ensure a successful Ph.D.
7. Learn to relate the various theories
You’re writing on a Ph.D., which is a significant step. You’ll be bringing in a variety of literary theories, which means you’ll need to understand not only the theories themselves but also how they relate to one another. To be successful as a Ph.D. candidate, you must talk, analyse, criticise, and be open to discussion. You must also be open to criticism.
Consider the numerous literary theories. Traditional literary theories, as well as formalism and new criticism, are all available. There’s Marxism, critical theory, structuralism and post-structuralism, to name a few. Some theories are likely to make you feel at ease, while others may not. Remember in mind that your academics will question and criticise your theories. Criticism isn’t always a negative thing. It’s academic criticism, and there’s a purpose for it. Your research must be finished.
A literary theory course can aid you once more. Which theories you’ll need to bring in will depend on your subject and author of choice. Others include new historicity and cultural materialism, ethnic studies, and postcolonial criticism, to name a few. You’ll need to relate the dots between them. A course can pick you in selecting a solid PhD English literature topic.
8. Consider how the author followed theories in his writings
It’s worth noting that there are frequently multiple nuanced opinions on literary theories in the academic realm. You should research your chosen author and see how he or she applied literary theories to their works. Was there a pattern? Was there a particular literary theory that was adhered to?
Sometimes the theories are easy and simple to follow. In certain cases, a book has only one theory or idea. There are instances when theories are muddled or when many points of view are presented. You must be able to read, review, analyse, and understand the theories that your author chose to follow. Furthermore, your research must be of such good writing that fellow academics can analyse it and derive brainwave moments from it.
Regardless of the type of reading, it must be fascinating. It should also make you think. Reading should elicit a response. Multiple theories are sometimes used, resulting in opposing viewpoints, ideas, debate, and discussion. Take a close look at the author you’re researching, their books, and the ideas they present. Do they follow to the theories you’ve been learning? If so, which one or ones are you talking about? Have you come up with any theories of your own?
9. Pick a theory that piques your interest
Some literary theories may pique your interest more than others. Perhaps you’re interested in postcolonialism or Marxist criticism. The goal is to avoid becoming overly fixated on a single theory too soon. Read it again, take notes, summarise it, and go over it again. Also, have a look at different literary theories. You’ll discover that some theories excite you while others are completely irrelevant to you. Make notes and you’ll be led to the theories that are right for you over time.
The more you read and jot down ideas, the more one particular theory will stand out. It may be a long process, but the longer it takes, the better. This means you’ll be able to think more clearly and critically. You’ll know where you’re going once you’ve narrowed in on a specific theory.
Let’s imagine you’re interested in poststructuralism. You will now begin to think in a different way. You’ll find yourself formulating your own theories, perhaps linking them together, or finding clarity in just one. Make a list of everything you want to remember – you won’t use them all, but they’ll come in handy when you’re trying to tie everything together. And theorise, theorise, theorise.
10. Make a list of what others are researching
If you haven’t chosen a topic yet, make sure you’re aware of what other students are researching or thinking to research. You don’t want to be caught off guard and find you’re doing the same thing. You don’t want to squander your time. Make a list of other people’s ideas. Make a list of any ideas you have, and it will all come together at some point. Make a list of notes to remember when you wake up. Make notes while sitting with other researchers.
The thing about choosing an English literature PhD research topic is that you’ll have to listen, read, listen to some more, research, and read some more. You must also be willing to open in dialogue with other researchers, Ph.D. students, and lecturers. Even if your literary topics are different, talk to others. Alternatively, to make that they are distinct.
The academic community is always bouncing ideas off each other. It’s crucial to talk about your ideas, seek feedback on them, and listen to what others have to say. Carry a notebook with you at all times and scribble down what and how other people conduct their research. You are not going to imitate anyone, but you will find inspiration and share it with others.
11. Don’t use topics that have previously been covered
Finding the proper PhD topic will take time and effort. This can take a long time and be excruciating. It may appear that every topic you’re choosing has already been covered. Take your time to find a topic that interests you, challenges you, and excites you. Find a topic that will give you to provide new and exciting information.
The literature accessible, the amount of time it will take you, and whether or not the topic is worthy of research and analysis are all factors to consider when choosing a topic for your PhD in English literature. You’ll need to completely immerse yourself in all of the available literature on the subject — choose wisely.
If you want to look at new viewpoints and find different analyses than the ones that have already been done, choose a topic that has already been done. Only selecting a topic that you are clear will become clear to you as you research it, and so to others. You might choose a topic that interests you but has already been covered, as long as you can write about it in an interesting and exciting way.
12. Choose at least 5 topics at random and be creative
Before making a decision, most students will research up to five different topics. Picking a topic, changing your mind, picking another, doing some research, putting it aside, looking at a third topic, and so on is quite normal. This is a good procedure. You must be proactive in your decision, which means you must spend time considering what you will write and how you will write it.
The reason you should choose at least five research topics in English literature is so that you can find something that both interests and challenges you. Consider why you want to research the topic and what your findings will signify to you and others. Bring your topics to the attention of other researchers or academics. Inquire about their opinions. Listen topic to what others have to say about the people you’ve chosen.
You have the option of selecting the first topic and sticking to it. Perhaps you can’t find much information on it, or, even worse, you can’t find enough. It’s possible that the topic has been over-researched. It’s time to move on to the next topic until you find the one that’s appropriate for you. Don’t rush into making a choice.
13. Review topics with a literature specialist
Request time with a literature expert once you narrowed down your list of potential PhD topics. This person could be a professor, a speaker, a colleague researcher, or an author. Present your ideas and make sure you have all of the necessary information. Ask about feedback. Listen without being defensive when you ask for feedback. You’ve requested a re-review of your topics. Listen to attention to the feedback.
It doesn’t have to be someone you know to be a literature expert. Ask a meeting with a specialist in your field of interest if you know of one. Also, remember that you can approach a professional group and request a meeting. Academic academics are usually eager to assist. You can meet academics from your university, but you are also free to talk to academics from other universities.
Finally, take advantage of the Internet. You can get answers to any queries you have about your proposed topic from a variety of sources available online. You’ll be able to obtain ideas online about your proposed topics, including if they’ll work, whether they’ve been done before, whether you’re on the correct track, and whether there’s interest.
14. Consult 5 English teachers and show the topics
Because you’re choosing a PhD research topic in English literature, it’s a good idea to talk to an English teacher about your topics. You’re approaching the people who are most likely to be interested in your ideas, and you’ll find that good English teacher are eager to speak with you. You can find teachers at your own learning, but you can also ask for meetings with teachers you are unfamiliar with but who are experts in their field.
Inform them of your ideas. Inquire about their opinions and whether they would urge you to pursue the given topic. Inquire if they believe your topic has merit and could be developed into a dissertation. Ask about their knowledge of the topic and whether they feel it is significant. Pay attention to the advice you’re provided.
You wish to learn something fresh about your topic. Although you may believe you have new information, experienced English teachers may disagree. Chat with them, and more importantly, listen to them, and solicit their candid ideas. To be honest with you, the academic environment is an inclusive one, and specialists are going. Pay attention to what they’re saying.
15. Your teachers will automatically recommend a topic for you
It’s not easy to pick a PhD topic in English literature. Your research should be significant and beneficial to future scholars. It has to be a game-changer. It ought to shed light on topics or at the very least present opposing viewpoints. For these reasons, picking a topic might be quite difficult. Some of your teachers may actually assign topics, which is a convenient way to make a decision.
You might choose a topic that is suggested to you by your teachers. You’ll know the topic is significant and hasn’t been over-researched or examined in this way. Chat to your teacher and ask out why they chose the topic. Take their suggestions into advice.
You want to gather feedback from people who are “in the know” when you choose a topic for your research. Don’t just go with the first topic that comes to mind. Choose a subject that interests you and one you know will be difficult but also interesting, creative, and challenging. Choose a topic that will cause the academic world to think and question in a positive way!
16. Do not reveal your topic to your friends before joining your PhD
You may believe that this is not a topic for debate, but the truth is that the academic world is a competitive one. You don’t want a fellow student to follow your idea if it’s wonderful and food for thought, which we hope it is. Keep your research topic a secret until you begin your PhD programme. You don’t want your idea to be stolen, but you also don’t want to lose your idea in it, especially if you believe in it.
Another reason not to reveal your topic ahead of time is in case your friends dismiss it. You may believe your topic is worthwhile, but someone could undermine your conviction. Keep it as long as you’ve done your research ahead of time and you’re passionate about it. Academic advice should always be followed, but you should be a little more cautious with your friends. Do this solely at first.
When working on a PhD, you need to be confident. When you question and then re-question what you’re doing, you can actually drive yourself insane. Unless you’re seeking their advice, don’t allow friends or academics to second-guess you. Otherwise, keep going as long as you feel confident.
17. Attend a variety of interviews on the topic
This is a useful suggestion for when you’re choosing a research topic, as well as after you’ve chosen one. Special interest lectures, interviews, seminars, and other events are held at universities all the time, and you can find them all on your topic of interest. When we say interview, we’re referring to an interview, a meeting, or a lecture.
You should try to attend as many interviews as possible. When you’ve decided on a topic, you should aim to attend as many public lectures, book readings, and similar events as possible. If you’re still undecided, ask as many experts on the subject as you can to interview and speak with you. Before deciding on a topic, remember to interview a variety of people. People are fascinating and have fascinating ideas; one person will provide you with something that no one else has considered.
Interviews or meetings with one thing at a time can be really effective. As the researcher, you’ll need to listen a lot. An interviewer will make you in every way possible and force you to think. Imagine how you’ll make your readers think one day if an interviewer can make you think.
18. Read some popular novels
Have you ever seen a professor’s library? They’re usually crammed with books from floor to ceiling. Academics, on the other hand, have numerous bookcases, not just one. You’ll be going about your research topic for a long time. You are going to read, research, write, and defend your Ph.D. It is and always will be yours.
Buy all of the novels and books you require. You are the expert on your subject, and you are the expert on your topic. Everything you can get your hands on should be read. And print is far superior to online. Take the books to bed, the bath, and the coffee shop with you. Increase your reading time.
Making a note of all the books you make read is also a great idea. You will have a Ph.D. literature file in English. Have an index, and one of the chapters should list all of the author’s books, as well as all of the author’s books you’ve read. Make a summary of the books and summarise notes on them. Make a list of everything you want to remember in the book. If the book appeals to you, read it a second time.
Because academia is changing, this is a sensitive issue. There are two schools of thought on whether to read novels in print or on a computer. Don’t try to do both. The truth is that you can do whatever you want. It is preferable to not read at all if you want to read online.
The reason academics advise against reading novels on computers is that they believe you would retain less information. When you read in print, you may easily take notes, underline specific lines or chapters, dog-ear pages so you remember where you left off and read at your leisure.
Books, especially in print, are amazing. You always have them; you don’t have to look for them on the internet; they are true gems that should be handled as such. And having a full series of novels or books on the subject of your thesis is truly unique.
19. Use your time wisely and with some interest.
It is so easy to become distracted, especially in this world of the internet. The one thing you cannot afford when writing a Ph.D. is a distraction. You must be extremely disciplined and efficient with your time. Many academics write that they eat, drink, and sleep their Ph.D.s.
Let’s get back to work on the discipline. Your thesis will take a long time to complete. Consider the length of time you have to complete your research topic. You’ll have to be very good at time management. You must be self-disciplined in setting aside time to collect and analyse data.
Everyone requires a break from time to time. In your spare time, do things that you enjoy. But when you’re working on your Ph.D., it’s a different work. Make the most of your time by reading, researching, or writing. If you do this, you won’t have any last-minute snafus when it comes to meeting your deadline.
A pen and pencil are essential items to carry in your bag at all times. Otherwise, bring a mobile device to take notes on. People get ideas at the strangest of times: while walking, sipping coffee, or waiting for a friend around the corner. Always write down your ideas.
Similarly, bring your pen and paper with you when you go to an interview or a lecture. Make a list of your notes so you can refer to them and read them later. Take your notebook home and transfer any relevant information to your PhD folder.
Be mindful of where you are in the interview, lecture, or meeting. If you scribble down everything, you might come across as disrespectful. Use caution when taking notes. Yes, you should definitely write things down. However, do not write the full lecture. Listen, jot down quick notes, and always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always
20. Make a literary survey to see what other people are interested in
Do a lot of research before deciding on a literary Ph.D. topic. Your concept may be brilliant, but what if no one is interested in reading it? You want to pick a topic that is both interesting and exciting, as well as one that will be discussed widely in academia.
Ask about your topic with your lecturers. Make notes and fill out surveys. You may conduct a literary survey on five topics, as mentioned earlier. Ask about your topics with lecturers, academics, and other students. Put it in a survey and see which topic gets the most votes.
Take a close look at your survey’s results. If everyone is choosing the same topic for the same reason, they are probably right. However, this does not necessarily imply that they are correct. You might take your survey a step further and ask them why they are interested in that particular topic. Then, based on how you feel, make a decision.
21. Don’t waste your time on foolish and useless topics
Isn’t this the most obvious one? Nobody is going to read or take your PhD seriously if your top is foolish or irrelevant. Relevance is everything in today’s world. You must be relevant on issues such as gender, feminism, sexism, history, climate change, politics, and art.
Keep in mind that a PhD is something that everyone in academia takes seriously. Your research will be read by your peers, particularly those whom you admire. You want people to read and be blown away by your work. You lose your opportunity of being held in high regard if you are foolish.
You’ll be going on your PhD for a long time, possibly a year or more. You should also enjoy what you’re doing rather than find it a chore. Your research is important, not just for others but also for yourself. Take everything very seriously. PhD studies are serious business, and you must take them seriously as well.
22. Become well-versed in other fields by reading widely
When writing a PhD, you should read as much as possible. To be honest, you should always read as much as possible. Ideas occur to you when you read other people’s work. Reading helps you learn about style and content. Anything you can get your hands on should be read. You’ll be working on your doctoral dissertation. A good writer must read a lot in way to become a good writer.
When we advise that you should read a lot, we don’t mean that you should only read about topics related to your research. You should read anything you can get your hands on. Read academic papers, transcribed interviews, the newspaper, novels, and periodicals, among other things. The more you read, the better you will get at writing. That is something that any writer will tell you.
Books will become the most important thing in your life as a researcher. All books will become significant to you. Keep a book in your bag at all times. When you’re on the bus, the train, or sitting in front of the television at home, read. Reading, whether academic, fiction or non-fiction, stimulates our own creative impulses. Reading causes you to ponder.
23. Keep all of your notes and reading materials close to hand
When it comes to writing a PhD, there will be a lot of material to go through. Even before you’ve chosen a topic, the first thing you should do is open a PhD file. Get a good one because it will be with you for a long time. Make distinct parts.
Your collected notes will be the most important aspect of your Ph.D., and you will refer to them for a long time. Make sure all of your notes are in one place and cross-reference them as much as possible to your summaries or the chapters or books you’re reading. Always double-check your notes. You’ll read something and think, “Oh, that makes sense.”
The same may be said for all of your reading. Keep a watchful eye on what you’re reading. Read first thing in the morning. When you go to bed at night, read. The more reading you undertake, the better off you will be. Make a list of all the books you own as well as the ones you want to buy. As you read them, cross them off your list. Most importantly, keep a copy of your PhD notes and research with you at all times. It’s something you don’t want to lose.