What have been the major obstacles you have faced in putting a research project together?
I found it hard to specify my dissertation topic and analyse an original argument. Although I wanted to study representations of Otto Von Bismarck between 1870 and 1914, it would have been too difficult to gather primary sources due to many of them being in German. Thus, I managed to narrow down my topic to examine British historians biographies on the German Chancellor between 1890 and 1936. This gave me an original argument and plenty of historians I could pursue online such as Charles Grant Robertson.
What strategies have you adopted to overcome these obstacles?
My tutor gave me excellent advice in order to pursue the topic but from a different angle. Instead of focussing on German sources, I could analyse British historians in a certain period and how they could be influenced by certain dates. Furthermore, there are many books which incorporate German views within the period I am studying. Therefore, I can compare and contrast them with my own findings.
What has this taught you about approaching your dissertation?
This has taught me that it will be hard to analyse British historians biographies on Bismarck from the period. I will need to plan in proceeding with this topic in order to study the many different views of Bismarck from within the period without getting confused due to vast amounts of reading. It would be helpful to set myself deadlines in order to not fall behind and keep focused on the work at hand. Thus, organisation and planning are key to completing my dissertation.
Which aspects of the 9X6 module have been the most useful in helping you get your project ready to start?
Throughout the semester, the 9X6 module has been useful in understanding the dissertation and how to go about it. It has allowed me to understand the topic I will be undertaking for my dissertation and to analyse a wide range of books and primary sources which I will be able to develop on. The seminars have given me a good understanding of what a dissertation actually is and how to prepare for it. Ultimately, the module as a whole has been very supportive.
For my dissertation topic, I am planning to research about Otto von Bismarck’s foreign policy between 1871 and 1890. I will base the dissertation around his desire for peace during the period and view if this made him successful according to historians.
- Abrams, Lynn. Bismarck and the German Empire. London: Routledge, 1995.
I found this article while searching through the University of Stirling library. This article, published in 1995, records Bismarck acting as an ‘honest broker’ within Europe as he consistently pursues treaties to consolidate Germany’s gains while maintaining peace. The author of the book argues that the treaties Bismarck implemented were not long term but to avoid crisis. Moreover, when Bismarck took his leave of office, this left Germany with a system ill-suited to the new configuration of power within Europe. This relates to my chosen topic as it shows that Bismarck’s peaceful foreign policy only acted as crisis management and delayed an inevitable war.
- Eyck, Erich. Bismarck and the German Empire. Allen & Unwin, 1968.
Eyck argues that the alliances that Bismarck enacted were strenuous. Bismarck’s domestic policy became intertwined with his foreign policy which resulted in the emergence of the First World War. Bismarck made the mistake of placing his German nation first. This meant he could never form any lasting alliances with others. After his forced resignation, Eyck argues that the peace he had attempted to retain diminished as it proved too much for his successor. Thus, his argument somewhat connects to Abrams.
- Stone, James. “Bismarck and the Great Game: Germany and Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia, 1871-1890.” Central European History48, no. 2 (2015): 151-75.
This journal article discusses one of Bismarck’s accomplishments as German chancellor throughout the period. It showed how he managed to maintain peace in Europe while preserving Germany’s dominance. This article is key in showing Bismarck’s success as he managed to tie down Russia’s troops in Asia which kept them far away from Central Europe. This article is important to my dissertation as it examines Bismarck’s successful foreign policy in which he was able to maintain peace without Germany directly intervening within the Anglo-Russian rivalry.
- “The Nightmare of Coalitions”: Bismarck on the Other Great Powers (1879/1898).
This extract is taken from Bismarck’s memoirs. It contributes to my topic due to the fact it gives the reader an opportunity to read Bismarck’s thoughts at the time of establishing alliances. It shows that unlike the beliefs of some historians, Bismarck always planned for the future by forging diplomatic agreements which would provide peace for Germany.
- Dual Alliance with Austria (October 7, 1879).
This primary source demonstrates the effectiveness of Bismarck’s foreign policy. The treaty was made to consolidate the peace in Europe instead of being aggressive towards Russia. This was important as it showed Bismarck’s intelligence in gaining Austria support. Although it was a peaceful alliance, it meant that he had military backing if Russia chose to attack. This is important as it shows his success in handling foreign affairs. However, it also shows that decisions have consequences as it contributed to the First World War.
Hi guys, my names Thomas and I’m from Newcastle. For my dissertation, I am struggling to pick a topic due to the vastness of the subject. My main interests in history take place within the 20th century. Thus, I am looking into events such as the Russian revolution and the First World War, without trying to find topics that are too generic. As for online teaching, it has been far better than I anticipated. However, it can sometimes be hard to keep engaged.