Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Methods and theoretical framework

This is where I figure out what to do with Bourdieu and Giddens and Greenblatt et al.

Greenblatt should serve as a base for looking at how these women framed themselves, then perhaps use B to look at how the field was set up - I need to figure out a consistent language to talk about these women and what they did.

Self-fashioning, a term introduced by Stephen Greenblatt (Renaissance Self-Fashioning,1980), is the creation of oneself according to a set of socially acceptable standards. Female selves, constructed as females, did not have attributes such as smart, independent, philosophical, etc. So my suspicion is that women fashioned alternate - public - selves that downplayed the feminine and emphasized other traits. Todd talks about women hanging out signs, Queen Elizabeth described herself as a prince - emphasizing her royal blood over her gender, and Joan of Arc emphasized being a messenger of God.

- general understanding of the disjoint between the official narrative and what people did, how the official narrative describes a structure that is always negotiated, always manipulated and contested by individual agents. Any description of the structure is going to leave out how that structure was contested and challenged - from within - and so far most history focuses either on describing the structure OR on describing individual challenges, not (which is what I want to do) how the structure lends itself to and enables the challenge.
Furthers interdisciplinarity - using literary theory and close reading to understand history and crossing the divide between history and anthropology (explain how). A historical reading of texts, and a literary understanding of historical individuals (these are non fiction writing women after all, not so often studied by literary scholars.
Future research could/should look at how other groups negotiated the same territory - how did men during this time and place construct selves that increased their legitimacy? How was their authority challenged?