Thursday, 21 February 2013

Research is... not tidy

It has occurred to me recently that while trying to tackle the Princes Shirt as a 'proper' academic project I may loose something of my personal angle. In discussion with a colleague yesterday it seems that many people feel that Prown's methodology for material culture analysis has it's downfall in this area. There is a danger of loosing huge amounts of contextual information by being blinkered to the surrounding story of an object.

I also feel that things are not neat and often cannot be compartmentalised, research cannot always be arranged to happen in the 'correct' order and it is not possible to remove emotion from the process. That said I do appreciate the importance of having a methodology, of avoiding bias as much as possible and of keeping an open mind.

So I have made the decision to look at things in a more holistic manner. Why not make measurements of the shirt and compare them with other examples? Why not look at the garment shape while reading about the evolution of the shirt? I think from now on I will try to use Prown as a framework or a check list for my project, rather than a rule book. I do not think it holds all the answers. I want to look wider, I want to ask experts and get advice. I also want to track my journey in a more honest way; the twists and turns, the dead ends and the don't knows.

Now that sounds like a plan!

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