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Research Methods in Literary Studies. Some possible topics/Issues. Internal Dynamics of the Asian family Young Adult Preoccupations and their reflections in literature Social Problems and their reflections in literature Various types of Feminist Agency

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some possible topics issues
Some possible topics/Issues

Internal Dynamics of the Asian family

Young Adult Preoccupations and their reflections in literature

Social Problems and their reflections in literature

Various types of Feminist Agency

Conflicts between cultures/cultural values

Oppression – Race/Gender (or both)

some possible topics issues5
Some possible topics/issues
  • The Shadow of Imperialism
  • Aspects of Nationhood in various Countries as expressed through literature
  • Diasporic Communities and Memories of Space and Place
  • Archetypal Echoes (Myth and Archetypes)
  • Cultural Variations of the various topic/issues above
types of texts
  • Magazines
  • Comics
  • Advertisements
  • Movies
  • Mini Series
  • Computer Games
identifying your theoretical method
Identifying your theoretical Method
  • Identify the Framework that you will use when discussing the chosen topic/issue.
    • If you have chosen a text that is not conventional literary fiction, i.e Film, Mini Series, Computer Games, Advertisements etc., you must clearly show that it contains/depicts topic/issues that can be analysed via an approach that you can similarly use to analyse a literary text.
identifying your theoretical method8
Identifying your theoretical Method
  • Identify certain key concepts/aspects that you will be using to aid in your discussion of the topic/issue chosen.
  • Explain how these will help you identify relevant scenes/ episodes/ items that are connected to the topic/issue.
  • These would generally be found in a particular READING APPROACH/ THEORY or a combination of them:

(Formalism/Marxism/Feminism/Psychoanalysis/ Postcolonialism etc.)

theoretical framework sample 1

Topic : Shadows of Imperialism

Theoretical Framework – key aspects of colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory in general

  • ORIENTALISM - (definition of orientalism, sub-categories of orientalism –
  • Dominance of a particular ideology (linked to imperialism)

ADVERTISEMENTS – British India,East India, Housing Projects (Marrakesh), Ads that convey an imperialistic nostalgia

theoretical framework sample 2

Topic : Archetypal Echoes (Myth and Archetypes)/ Revisionings

  • Identify the archetypes and the source (cultural texts – Ramayana, Mahabaratha, Sejarah Melayu, Egyptian Myths, Persian Myths)
  • Establish key aspects linked to archetypal theory –
    • Archetypal women – maiden, mother, crone
    • Archetypal personas : Wizards/ Sorcerers/Witches/High Priestesses/Kings/Queens/Biblical Parables and Parallells etc
  • The ways in which these are projected via modern revisionings (in literary texts/adverts/computer games etc
theoretical framework sample 3

Topic : Young Adult Preoccupations and their reflections in literature

  • Aspects from Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Gender etc
  • Repression
  • Conflicts with Parental authority
  • Oedipus/Electra Complex
  • The Return of the Repressed
    • Ways in which the above are presented in ways that appeal to young adult readers (types of characters/ characterisation)
theoretical framework sample 4

Topic : Diasporic Communities and Memories of Space and Place

  • Hybridity
  • UnHomeliness
  • In Between Spaces
  • Alienation
  • Adaptations
  • Syncretism
  • Xenophobia
  • Friction (Conflicts) between first generation and subsequent diasporic generations in a particular country
  • Dialogism (internal –within diasporic community and between a diasporic community and the Other within the nation)
theoretical framework sample 413
  • Examination texts, methods, curriculum, teacher competence, teacher/student attitude or motivation, mode of assessment, development of critical/creative thinking, cultural awareness, etc.
  • May be qualitative or quantitative
comparative framework
Comparative Framework
  • Establish a comparative paradigm – theme, genre, influence, form, etc.
  • Establish a validity for comparison between text and text or text and other areas of choice
  • Establish the issue for comparison – thematic, stylistic, archetypal, etc.
  • Develop a critical/literary theory-based framework to make comparison
  • Discuss points of convergence and divergence as part of findings
elaborating on framework methodology
Elaborating on Framework (Methodology)
  • Introduce the key aspects that you have selected to help frame your discussion of the topic.
  • Explain in detail how each aspect is extremely relevant to your analysis of the text selected.
  • Explain in detail how you will show the link between the aspect and specific scenes/episodes/items of the text chosen.
elaborating on framework methodology16
Elaborating on Framework (Methodology)
  • Develop your framework by showing the evidence of the key aspects discussed earlier in specific scenes/episodes/items in the chosen text. These need to be briefly introduced as you will discuss the details in your analysis.
  • This is necessary as you must show that you are able to link the theoretical aspects to the text.
  • If you merely talk about the aspects without showing the link, it does not reflect critical awareness of identification and explication.
explaining your theoretical framework
Explaining your Theoretical Framework
  • You must show that you understand each aspect by discussing it fully.
  • Do not merely let the external reference materials that you select as evidence of theoretical issues speak for you.
  • Explain what you understand of the external reference, show your understanding of it and comment on relevance to thesis/text.
explanation of theoretical framework
Explanation of Theoretical Framework

“otherness includes doubleness, both identity and difference, so that every other , every different than and excluded by is dialectically created and includes the values and meaning of the colonizing culture even as it rejects its power to define”

“the western concept of the oriental is based, as Abdul JanMohamed argues, on the Manichean allegory (seeing the world as divided into mutually excluding opposites): if the west is ordered, rational, masculine, good, then the orient is chaotic, irrational, feminine, evil. Simply to reverse this polarizing is to be complicit in its totalizing and identity-destroying power (all is reduced to a set of dichotomies, black or white, etc.)”

Lye, John. 1998. Some Issues in Postcolonial Theory (1997 ). Accessed Friday, February 01, 2008. Available online from

explanation of theoretical framework19
Explanation of Theoretical Framework

“The term 'hybrid' … refers to the concept of hybridity, an important concept in post-colonial theory, referring to the integration (or, mingling) of cultural signs and practices from the colonizing and the colonized cultures ("integration" may be too orderly a word to represent the variety of stratagems, desperate or cunning or good-willed, by which people adapt themselves to the necessities and the opportunities of more or less oppressive or invasive cultural impositions, live into alien cultural patterns through their own structures of understanding, thus producing something familiar but new). The assimilation and adaptation of cultural practices, the cross-fertilization of cultures, can be seen as positive, enriching, and dynamic, as well as as oppressive. "Hybridity" is also a useful concept for helping to break down the false sense that colonized cultures -- or colonizing cultures for that matter -- are monolithic, or have essential, unchanging features. “

Lye, John. 1998. Some Issues in Postcolonial Theory (1997 ). Accessed Friday, February 01, 2008. Available online from

explanation of theoretical framework20
Explanation of Theoretical Framework

The term ‘subaltern’ was first used out of its military context of inferior ranking soldiers by Antonio Gramsci as he adopted it to refer to the subordinate classes that made up the Italian peasantry in his “Notes on Italian History”. The constitution of that subordinate class depended on there being always a party that dominated the space within which they were situated, a domination that extended also to the configuration of the “identity of the represented and the representative” (55). The power of representation was almost always in the hands of the dominant.

Pillai, Shanthini. (2007) Colonial Visions, Postcolonial Re-visions: Images of the Indian Diaspora in Malaysia. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p.xii

linking theoretical framework to thesis focus
Linking Theoretical Framework to Thesis Focus

This is notably best viewed against the backdrop of JanMohamed’s concept of the ‘economy of Manichean allegory’ that he sees as characteristic of most colonialist narratives in articulating the opposition between the “putative superiority of the European and the supposed inferiority of the native” (2000: 1059).

Pillai, Shanthini. (2007) Colonial Visions, Postcolonial Re-visions: Images of the Indian Diaspora in Malaysia. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p.19

linking theoretical framework to analysis
Linking Theoretical Framework to Analysis

The issues raised in the passage above are doubly executed in the colonial narratives that I investigate in this chapter. They emphasise the nature of colonial writing as similar and interrelated with the economic manipulation of the colonial capitalist venture.

Pillai, Shanthini. (2007) Colonial Visions, Postcolonial Re-visions: Images of the Indian Diaspora in Malaysia. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p.19

literature review
Literature Review
  • Identify past work done on the text that you have chosen.
  • Do not merely look at past project papers.
  • Do not use mere book reviews as literature review.
  • You need to look at works by critics on the text, on the subject and on the socio-cultural backdrop of text.
literature review24
Literature Review
  • Literature review must be specific to the area chosen. Avoid quoting articles that have no relevance to your research project.
  • Articles should be from literary scholars or theorists as much as possible.
literature review25
Literature Review
  • Discuss whether the articles you have reviewed deal with the specific issue that you have chosen for your research project.
  • Identify the points in which you think you can offer a fresh perspective if possible.
  • Discuss the works. Do not merely quote.
  • Do not let the quotations speak for you either. Elaborate on their specific details as far as possible.
  • Different kinds of formats depending on the kind of research carried out.
  • Qualitative type research is written differently from quantitative type research
  • The type of research you conduct will determine the way in which you write it
  • Format A (in the style of a scientific research)
    • Chapter 1

Background / Context of research

Provide information on text/author, the historical/socio-cultural context to the study

Statement of the Problem

      • What you will be analysing in the form of an ARGUMENT, where you describe the ‘problem’ using the theory/concepts that will be utilised in the analysis.
      • You input/stand on the issue should be clear

Research Aims

Research Questions

      • 3-5 research questions

Significance of Research

Limitations of Research


    • Chapter 2: Literature review
    • Chapter 3: Conceptual Framework & methodology
    • Chapter 4: Analysis
    • Chapter 5: Conclusion
  • Format B
  • Chapter 1: Background and Aims of Research

Summary of Chapters

  • Chapter 2: Setting the Context (Literary History/ Historical Background)
  • Chapter 3: Literature Review
  • Chapter 4: Conceptual Framework and methodology
  • Chapter 5: Analysis
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
example women in malay court narratives
Example: Women in Malay Court Narratives
  • I used format B
  • Introduction (why I am writing the thesis and what to expect in the following chapters)
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Context – what are court narratives/ their characteristics
  • Chapter 2: review of literature
  • Chapter 3: feminist dialogics
  • Chapter 4: Social Exchange
  • Chapter 5: Islamic Lens
  • Chapter 6: Women of Silence
  • Chapter 7: Consenting Women
  • Chapter 8: Dissenting Women
  • Chapter 9: Conclusion
comparative literature
Comparative Literature
  • Comparing literature of two nations
  • You need to show the literary histories of both nations
  • Eg nationhood in Scorpion Orchid vs nationhood in Petals of Blood
  • The historical settings of both texts
  • Format
  • Introduction
  • Contexts (literary traditions and Historical backgrounds) of both Novels
  • Literature review
  • Conceptual framework and methodology (theories of nationhood; how you are going to analyse)
  • Analysis: 1 chapter per book or issues? (colonial experience, independence, development)
  • Conclusion
action research
Action Research
  • The basic steps of an action research process constitute an action plan:
  • We review our current practice,
  • identify an aspect that we want to investigate,
  • imagine a way forward,
  • try it out, and
  • take stock of what happens.
  • We modify what we are doing in the light of what we have found, and continue working in this new way (try another option if the new way of working is not right)
  • monitor what we do,
  • review and evaluate the modified action
action research32
Action Research
  • What issue am I interested in researching?
  • Why do I want to research this issue?
  • What kind of evidence can I gather to show why I am interested in this issue?
  • What can I do? What will I do?
  • What kind of evidence can I gather to show that I am having an influence?
  • How can I explain that influence?
  • How can I ensure that any judgements I might make are reasonably fair and accurate?
  • How will I change my practice in the light of my evaluation?
  • This thesis is the narrative account of my research programme that has enabled me to make my original claim to have developed a living epistemology of practice that is grounded in dialogical, holistic and creative ways of knowing. From my belief that each individual is capable of developing their potential for learning and knowledge creation, I have come to see the interconnectedness of people and their environments as a locus of learning which may be embraced through technology.
  • Through my research I have developed my capacity for critical engagement, especially in relation to critiquing many normative practices in dominant forms of education; specifically in terms of their underpinning technical rational ontologies and epistemologies of fragmentation. My original contributions to knowledge are to do with how I show that I can account for how I have transformed my own erstwhile fragmented epistemologies into holistic and inclusional forms of knowing and practice. From the grounds of my research-based practice, I am able to make my original claim that I have developed my living theory of a holistic educational practice, through collaborative multimedia projects, and I ground my evidence in the multimedia narrative of my research account.
  • A distinctive feature of my research account is my articulation of how my ontological values of love and care have transformed into my living critical epistemological standards of judgement, as I produce my multimedia evidence-based living theory of a holistic educational practice. Through working with collaborative multimedia projects, I explain how I have developed an epistemology of practice that enables me to account for my educational influence in learning.
  • “Working with collaborative projects: my living theory of a holistic educational practice “ - Máirín Glenn
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One What were my concerns? Examining the background and contexts of the research
  • Chapter Two Why was I concerned? Examining my understanding of my practice as I clarifies my ontological values
  • Chapter Three What could I do about my concerns? Examining issues around methodology
  • Chapter Four What did I do about my concerns? Developing key insights around my research in terms of am emergent understanding of my practice
  • Chapter Five How do I use technology to enhance a dialogical and inclusional epistemology? Examining how technology and holistic approaches to education can merge
  • Chapter Six Developing epistemological justification - demonstrating validity
  • Chapter Seven How do I contribute to new practices and theory and to the education of social formations? Examining how I show the significance and potentials of my work
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices