Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Research Proposal for 'the Prince's Shirt'

As I begin the process of formulating my research project and setting in motion the various elements of research it seems appropriate to set out my plans. Here I will share some of my research proposal which outlines my research questions, methodology and proposed outcomes.

This project aims to investigate the provenance of the 'Prince's Shirt', a historical garment in private ownership, which has a family story connecting it to royalty. The project will try to ascertain the likelihood of royal ownership and the wider historical and contextual reading of the garment through Object Analysis (see below). The project is an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of Object Analysis in costume and textile research, and to present this case study to students and researchers in the field in order to further subject knowledge.

The garment is owned by my maternal Grandmother, and has been stored away in the family linen chest. It has never been researched and there is no known documentary evidence associated with it, only a vague, limited verbal account of it's supposed history.

Methodology & Research Questions
The methodology for this research project is also key to formulating the research questions. By using Prown's system of Object Analysis (1982), along with subsequent observations and suggestions from  Montgomery (1982) and Steele (1998), I can formulate questions based on the three stages of analysis:

Observing and recording the physical construction and appearance of the shirt by looking, studying, photographing, measuring and drawing; How big is it? What is it made of? How is it constructed? What is the visual appearance? Is there any decoration or ornament?
Sensory exploration of the garment by handling, recording responses and considering te garment as a whole: What does it feel like to wear? How might it be worn? How does it cover or fit the body? How does it function? What is the emotional response of the researcher to the shirt?
Formulate questions and/or hypothesis based on the first two stages, any previous subject knowledge of the researcher; What is the age and provenance of the Prince's Shirt; how old is it? Where was it made? What is the status of this object and the wearer? How does it compare to other similar garments and textiles? This will involve museum and archive research, Literature research and possibly input from experts in the field. Possible sources may include: Bradford Textile Archive, Bradford College; V&A museum, London; Whitworth Art Gallery and Platt Hall Costume Gallery, Manchester; Strangers Hall Museum, Norwich and the Royal Costume Collection at Kensington Palace.

Finally, and key to this research project, I want to explore how effective Prown's system of object analysis (1982) is in gaining a greater understanding of this historical garment? By documenting the research process throughout I aim to demonstrate this methodology  and how useful it is in understanding cultural artefacts.

Research Outcomes
An article appropriate for publishing in a specialist journal.

This blog is also an outcome of the research and aims to record the research process in an accessible format in order to reach a wider audience for textile and costume research.

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