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Brainstorming Unique History Dissertation Topics

Writing your dissertation in history will be one of the most exciting assignments you’ve had so far, and one of the most challenging. Your dissertation is a culmination of all the learning you’ve done up to this point. It shows off not only your command of your topic but also your ability to write professionally and academically, to research intellectually, and to think critically. In order for your dissertation to live up to its full potential, however, you need a great topic. The following brainstorming ideas can give a strong start in choosing one.

Read, read, and read some more (and watch!)

If you’re writing a history dissertation, you must have some interest in history, and you very likely have some specific interests in different aspects of it. Expand your horizons by watching documentaries on your favorite topics, reading peer reviewed articles about them, and venturing outside of your comfort zone by reading about opposing viewpoints.

People, events, eras

Narrow down your interests after doing your reading and watching, and choose some people, events, or eras that you find particularly fascinating. These probably won’t directly provide you with a truly unique topic, however. After all, many of the fascinating things we like about history have been written about to death. But you’ll also want to cater to your own interests to make your dissertation, so it’s a good place to start.

Train yourself to pick out details

Laypersons only understand the broad strokes of historical happenings and personages. However, in writing a dissertation, you’re setting yourself apart from lay people. Amp up your consumption of materials by focusing on niche topics and reading more serious academic works about them.

Sidekicks, small events, and unusual themes

History’s major players aren’t usually a great choice for dissertations—unless you can come up with a new angle. If you’re absolutely determined to write about Napoleon or Lincoln, try and find some small event or topic that relates which hasn’t been scrutinized much. A better tactic, however, is to choose to write about someone who is tangential to their lives. You’ll find that to even be a “minor” character in history, they probably were an intriguing and influential person. After all, we only think of them as minor characters because we’re comparing them to giants. As an added bonus, you’ll get to write about your favorite “giant” quite a bit too.