50+ Important English Literature Dissertation Topics

Choosing a dissertation topic in English literature can be both exciting and daunting. With a wealth of genres, historical periods, and critical approaches, the possibilities are vast. This comprehensive guide presents over 50 important dissertation topics across various themes and periods, helping you find inspiration for your research.

1. Renaissance Literature

1.1 Shakespearean Tragedies

Explore the complexities of human nature, fate, and morality in plays like “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” or “Othello.” Analyze themes such as ambition, revenge, and madness.

1.2 Metaphysical Poetry

Investigate the works of poets like John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell. Focus on their use of metaphysical conceits, religious themes, and exploration of love and mortality.

1.3 Female Voices in Renaissance Literature

Examine the representation of women in the works of male authors or explore the writings of female authors like Mary Sidney and Lady Mary Wroth.

2. Victorian Literature

2.1 Social Criticism in Dickens’ Novels

Analyze Charles Dickens’ critique of social issues such as poverty, child labour, and class disparity in novels like “Oliver Twist,” “David Copperfield,” and “Bleak House.”

2.2 The Brontë Sisters

Compare and contrast the themes of gothic elements, gender roles, and family dynamics in the works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë.

2.3 The Role of Women in Victorian Society

Explore the depiction of women and their societal roles in the works of authors like Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy.

3. Modernism

3.1 Stream of Consciousness in James Joyce’s “Ulysses”

Examine the narrative technique of stream of consciousness and its impact on modernist literature through Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

3.2 Alienation in Franz Kafka’s Works

Investigate themes of alienation, bureaucracy, and existential angst in Kafka’s stories like “The Metamorphosis” and “The Trial.”

3.3 Gender and Identity in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

Analyze Woolf’s exploration of gender, identity, and consciousness in works like “Mrs. Dalloway” and “Orlando.”

4. Postcolonial Literature

4.1 Identity and Displacement in Salman Rushdie’s Works

Explore themes of identity, migration, and cultural hybridity in Rushdie’s novels such as “Midnight’s Children” and “The Satanic Verses.”

4.2 Postcolonial Feminism in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Novels

Examine the intersection of postcolonial themes and feminist issues in Adichie’s works like “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Americanah.”

4.3 Representation of Colonialism in J.M. Coetzee’s Novels

Analyze how Coetzee portrays the impacts of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa in novels like “Disgrace” and “Waiting for the Barbarians.”

5. Contemporary Literature

5.1 Environmental Themes in Margaret Atwood’s Works

Investigate the portrayal of environmental issues and dystopian futures in Atwood’s novels like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Oryx and Crake.”

5.2 The Digital Age in Dave Eggers’ “The Circle”

Examine the critique of technology, surveillance, and privacy in Eggers’ novel “The Circle.”

5.3 Multiculturalism in Zadie Smith’s Novels

Analyze how Smith addresses themes of multiculturalism, identity, and social dynamics in novels like “White Teeth” and “Swing Time.”

6. American Literature

6.1 The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

Explore the critique of the American Dream and the pursuit of wealth in Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

6.2 Race and Identity in Toni Morrison’s Works

Investigate Morrison’s exploration of African American identity, history, and culture in novels like “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon.”

6.3 The Southern Gothic Tradition in William Faulkner’s Works

Analyze the use of gothic elements, decaying settings, and complex family dynamics in Faulkner’s novels like “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying.”

7. Gothic Literature

7.1 The Role of the Supernatural in Edgar Allan Poe’s Stories

Examine Poe’s use of supernatural elements, psychological horror, and themes of madness in his short stories.

7.2 Female Gothic in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Explore the representation of gender, creation, and monstrosity in Shelley’s seminal gothic novel.

7.3 Victorian Gothic in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

Analyze the themes of sexuality, fear of the other, and the clash between modernity and ancient evil in Stoker’s “Dracula.”

8. Science Fiction and Fantasy

8.1 Dystopian Themes in George Orwell’s “1984”

Investigate Orwell’s critique of totalitarianism, surveillance, and control in his dystopian novel “1984.”

8.2 World-Building in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”

Examine Tolkien’s creation of Middle-earth, focusing on themes of heroism, power, and the struggle between good and evil.

8.3 Gender and Power in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Analyze the depiction of gender, power dynamics, and resistance in Atwood’s dystopian novel.

9. Children’s Literature

9.1 Moral Lessons in Aesop’s Fables

Explore the use of anthropomorphism and moral teaching in Aesop’s classic fables.

9.2 Fantasy and Reality in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” Series

Investigate the blend of fantasy and reality, the hero’s journey, and themes of friendship and bravery in the “Harry Potter” series.

9.3 Colonialism and Race in “Peter Pan”

Examine J.M. Barrie’s portrayal of colonialism, race, and the concept of the “other” in “Peter Pan.”

10. Romantic Literature

10.1 Nature and the Sublime in William Wordsworth’s Poetry

Analyze Wordsworth’s depiction of nature, the sublime, and the human experience in his poetry.

10.2 Love and Loss in John Keats’ Poetry

Investigate the themes of love, loss, and mortality in Keats’ poetic works.

10.3 Gothic Elements in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Explore the blending of Romantic and Gothic elements in Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein.”

11. Feminist Literature

11.1 Feminist Themes in Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”

Examine Woolf’s arguments about women’s rights, creativity, and the need for financial independence in her extended essay.

11.2 Intersectionality in Audre Lorde’s Works

Analyze Lorde’s exploration of intersectionality, identity, and resistance in her poetry and essays.

11.3 Gender and Power in Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”

Investigate Plath’s portrayal of gender roles, mental illness, and societal expectations in her semi-autobiographical novel.

12. Historical Literature

12.1 Historical Accuracy in Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”

Examine Mantel’s depiction of Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor court, focusing on historical accuracy and narrative style.

12.2 The Representation of War in Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Analyze Remarque’s portrayal of the horrors of World War I and its impact on soldiers.

12.3 The French Revolution in Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities”

Investigate Dickens’ depiction of the French Revolution, class struggle, and redemption in “A Tale of Two Cities.”

13. Comparative Literature

13.1 Comparing Dystopian Societies in “1984” and “Brave New World”

Analyze the similarities and differences in the dystopian societies depicted by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.

13.2 The Hero’s Journey in “The Odyssey” and “The Lord of the Rings”

Examine the use of the hero’s journey archetype in Homer’s epic poem and Tolkien’s fantasy series.

13.3 Themes of Revenge in “Hamlet” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”

Compare and contrast the themes of revenge, justice, and morality in Shakespeare’s play and Dumas’ novel.

14. Mythology and Literature

14.1 The Role of Myth in James Joyce’s “Ulysses”

Investigate how Joyce incorporates and reinterprets classical myths in his modernist novel “Ulysses.”

14.2 Greek Tragedy in Modern Literature

Analyze the influence of Greek tragedy on contemporary works, focusing on themes of fate, hubris, and catharsis.

14.3 Mythical Motifs in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” Series

Explore the use of mythical motifs, creatures, and archetypes in the “Harry Potter” series.

15. Queer Literature

15.1 Queer Identity in James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room”

Examine Baldwin’s exploration of queer identity, love, and societal norms in his novel “Giovanni’s Room.”

15.2 Gender and Sexuality in Oscar Wilde’s Works

Analyze Wilde’s depiction of gender, sexuality, and societal hypocrisy in his plays and novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

15.3 The Intersection of Race and Sexuality in Audre Lorde’s Poetry

Investigate Lorde’s exploration of the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality in her poetry.


Choosing a dissertation topic in English literature requires careful consideration of your interests, the scope of available research, and the depth of the material. The above list provides a diverse array of topics across different periods, genres, and themes, offering a solid foundation for your academic exploration. Whether you are drawn to the timeless works of Shakespeare, the social critiques of Victorian literature, the innovative narratives of modernism, or the diverse voices of contemporary literature, there is a rich vein of material to explore in your dissertation.