Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning Journal 18: Response to Lee's "Eating Christmas," Remen's "Helping," and Sinclair's "Picturing Polygamy"

On today's front page of The Daily Universe, the student-run newspaper here at BYU, the word "Conquistadors" is printed in huge letters over a story about our #7 men's basketball team's win over #6/4 San Diego State on Saturday. While I'm really excited about the victory and how well our team is doing, I'm a little critical of the DU's choice of words. Titling the story with the word "Conquistadors" is meant to reference how the Spanish Conquistadors came to South America and all but obliterated the Aztecs and their culture. And while sports lingo tends to use harsh words like "destroy," "pound," "wasted," and "swept," I think that referencing the genocide of the Aztecs may be taking it a little far. However, because the genocide was so long ago and most American citizens are ignorant of Aztec culture, it doesn't sound so bad. But if it was more recent or if we had Aztec ancestors, this headline might be as hurtful to us as printing "Lynched," or "Enslaved," when our basketball team beats a team from a university with a high percentage of African-Americans. Although we think our modern society is politically-correct and well aware of cultural diversity and minorities, sometimes we're anything but.
This was a common theme in the readings for today's class, as well as the radio show we were asked to listen to. Of the three, I think Remen's "Helping, Fixing, or Serving?" stood out to me the most. In Young Women, we had many opportunities to do service, but I think that many times we just helped or fixed rather than served. We would go to a neighbor's house and take care of their lawn or help clean their house, but few of us actually talked to the neighbor and made them feel loved. It was more like free labor than service. So many times when I see people going to different countries and doing service, I wonder if they did it because they genuinely wanted to help human beings better their own lives, or if they did it because they want to be someone's savior or superhero. Just because we help another culture doesn't mean we understand them. Helping without understanding is just an ego boost.
This is what Lee discovered in his article "Eating Christmas in the Kalahari." What he thought of as a "totally generous act" which could make him well-loved and respected in the community was viewed by the bushmen as an attempt to gain power and influence. And if Lee were to be honest with himself as a person (not an anthropologist or ethnographer), I think he would realize that his main motivation for slaughtering the bull was to serve his own reputation among the bushmen. Sure, he knew that feeding them such a massive animal would be good for their health and survival, but he also made sure that everyone knew he bought it for them. In my opinion, their taunts were a good comeuppance that he desperately needed. Even in his article, he still doesn't quite make the connection that there's a difference between serving and fixing. Instead of saying that he needed to learn to respect and serve the bushmen, he just categorizes their "independence of spirit"--as shown through their mocking his bull--as an excellent means of anthropological survival. Obviously, the bushmen have been helped too much and not served enough.
Even though we are all going out on field studies to research a topic and present it academically, this doesn't mean that we can't act like humans as well. And while we aren't on service missions to these countries, we also aren't supposed to view them like exhibits at a museum. We may be going out to study humans, but studying them in this way actually removes their humanity in our minds, and they become lab rats rather than people. Hopefully, I won't experience much of this in England because 1) I'm not studying the living people, 2) I'm not ridiculously wealthier than the people, and 3) I'm not really that much of a cultural oddity in a diverse city like London. But I still need to stay mindful of how I treat the people with whom I associate. Like the terribly inappropriate DU headline today, or Lee with his ego-inflating bull, I don't want to insult a culture just because I don't take the time to understand its people. And I'm not talking about the culture's customs or traditions or history, but its people. I personally think I know a lot about London's cultural heritage and traditions. But I know that I know nothing about its people--I'm not even sure if I've ever met a native Londoner in my life. Like Remen and Sinclair, I want to recognize the people in the culture, not overlook the people in my attempt to study the culture.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning Journal 17: Response to Class Discussion 2/24

In our last class, we discussed Plummer's "Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome." For the most part, we just reviewed the article and reemphasized key points, but we also had a very interesting discussion on Plummer's theories. There are two points of the discussion that I'd especially like to expand upon.
The first was what a student said about Plummer's idea of keeping multiple opinions in view while discussing a topic. This student commented on his tendency to only see one side of an opinion, and to rarely look at the other side (or even consider its existence). He liked Plummer's example of another student who wrote journal entries in dialogues, with different people arguing different sides--much like Plato's dialogues. While I consider myself somewhat practiced in looking at a topic from different angles, I can see how I might have to consciously remind myself to do this when I am working on my field study project. My project will involve a lot of analysis of literature, art, artifacts, and historical accounts. In my preliminary studies of such analysis, I've noticed how easy it is for an expert to say that a certain portrait or poem means such-and-such, point out a few reason to prove themselves correct, and then assume everyone will believe them. And many times, people do believe them, because no one takes time to look at the subject from a different viewpoint. Like Ophelia, in Plummer's example, they assume that Polonius knows everything and they just take his word for it. It takes a very creative, dedicated, and clever mind to come up with newer, better ideas about something after everyone else has collectively decided to believe the old, established opinion. Newer, better, and more innovative ideas are exactly what my subject area desperately needs.
The second point of discussion was about how to live as an independent, self-motivating student when so much of college success depends on jumping through hoops and repeating professors' ideas back to them to get good grades. Lately, I feel as if my classes are getting in the way of my education. I've already found something I love and am passionate about, that I want to study for the rest of my career (coincidentally, it's a major part of my field studies project). However, because I have to graduate with good grades in order to go to grad school, I am forced to be distracted by other classes which have little to do with my focus. Furthermore, most of these classes are run by Polonius-esque professors, and thus foster no real synthesis of knowledge. I feel as if I'm possibly being a little harsh, but there's a real possibility that I may lose my chance to go to grad school and become a professor simply because I got a few C's or B's in classes which have little to do with my major and were run by Poloniuses. Seriously, this is a nightmare for me.
However, Maggie brought up a point which was amazingly comforting. She said that she had read an article by a BYU professor about the dilemma of choosing between self-motivating, actual learning and just grabbing GPA points to get into grad school. He said that in all cases, the right decision was to put the Lord first. As frightening as it is to let someone else take the reigns, I have to remember that the Lord's decisions will always make me happier, better, and stronger than anything I could pick with only my own guidance. If He wants me to go to grad school, then somehow everything will work out and I'll get accepted. If He doesn't, then it's because I have a bigger, better mission to fulfill, and I can always pursue my passion for 16th and 17th century British literature in another way. Besides, I'd rather be just a minimum-wage worker and put the Lord first than be a professor but never have time for prayer or scriptures or pondering. In the long, long run, there is much more to life than grad school or a career.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning Journal 16: Response to Class 2/21 and "Ophelia Syndrome" Reading

The reading on the "Ophelia Syndrome" got me thinking more deeply about the conversation we had in class today, especially in regards to the information that is gathered from certain locations, informants, and gatekeepers. As students doing research projects, I think we're all under a lot of pressure to come up with successful, interesting results. If everything goes well, we'll go into the field and our hypotheses will be proved true. If a few things go wrong, our hypotheses will be proved false, but they'll still show that we're on the right track. And even after hundreds of hours of research, if our results show nothing conclusive, we'll probably consider that a failure.
This is because we've been taught most of our lives that there is a wrong answer and a right answer. While some of our professors and teachers have let us discover concepts for ourselves, most teach with the lecture/regurgitate style, either because they haven't been introduced to student-motivated learning, or they think it isn't feasible (for whatever reasons). At least this is what I assume are their reasons, from my experience with both types of teachers.
Growing up in a world where the teacher tells you the right answer, waits a little bit, and then gives you a test in which they ask the right answer creates a mindset in which you honestly believe there is always a "right answer" waiting to be discovered. In a field study, setting out with the idea that there is a "right answer" to your hypothesis, or even that there's any sort of unified answer at all, can seriously bias your findings. As we discussed today in class, the type of location and type of access which we work with in studying a certain population can have a huge effect on the research we generate. Furthermore, the gatekeeper through which we access the population can have a big influence as well. This is where the "Ophelia Syndrome" can get very ugly in field studies. For instance, imagine a student who wants to study prison inmates and their opinions on police and other authority figures. The student reads a few articles on the topic, all of which suggest that prison inmates view authority figures very negatively. Unless the student purposely looks for other viewpoints on the topic, they will most likely assume the role of Ophelia and believe the idea that inmates view authority negatively is the "right answer." Thus, their study becomes a mission to reaffirm the accepted viewpoint rather than to search for what is actually there. When the student visits the prison to conduct interviews, having a "right answer" in mind will bias what he actually sees. He may study the locations which highlight a negative reaction to authority, and ignore other locations which show a positive or neutral reaction. He may only want to gain access to the locations and the people insofar as the access continues to prove the "right answer" correct, or he may stop gaining deeper levels of access if they show the "right answer" to be false. His choice in a gatekeeper to help him gain access may also be biased: he may gain access through a prison guard, and not someone who is more sympathetic to the inmates.
This example is rather extreme, but it proves the point: in our Ophelian efforts to please our mentors and regurgitate what is taught to us, we may travel all the way to Ghana, Mexico, Tonga, etc., only to see what we wanted to see, not what is really there. This is especially important in my own field of study, in which up-and-coming scholars may be all too eager to agree with more established scholars in order to build their own reputation, even at the price of misrepresenting their findings.

(p.s. In truly anti-Ophelian fashion, I am going to have to disagree with Plummer's characterization of Ophelia. I believe she is a much stronger character than popular culture makes her out to be, and I think the analyzation of a few lines is not strong enough to condemn her as weak and infantile. I also think there is a cultural gap between our time and Shakespeare's time, which makes Ophelia appear even more ignorant and helpless than Shakespeare may have meant to portray her. However, I do agree with Plummer's concept and opinions of a dominating teacher and a mentally lazy, spoon-fed learner. But a more accurate name for it may be Glenn-Beck-viewer Syndrome, or Stephanie-Meyers-fan Syndrome.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Learning Journal 15: Response to Neuman's "Choosing a Site"

I read Neuman's "Choosing a Site and Gaining Access," keeping my location in London in mind as I read. As he explained, "A site is the context in which events or activities occur, a socially defined territory with shifting boundaries. A social group may interact across several physical sites." In my own research, I'm not exactly studying a social group as much as a social idea, and while its territory is literally unbounded, its origins are very concentrated and accessible. And since a great part of my study is of this idea while it was yet in its infancy, studying its origins is especially important. I am also very fortunate in studying this social idea, because as a result of research and historical endeavours, scholars have attempted to move as much of its territory into a few physical field sites.
Another concept that I really connected with was the idea of a "gatekeeper." In my general studies of Tudor Queens here at BYU, I feel as if I learned the concept of gatekeeper through trial and error. Luckily, I was able to find my mentor early in my undergraduate career. Equally fortunate for my research is that she has already been researching the Tudor period for 20+ years, is very widely read in the area, and has many connections with other scholars. However, my other attempts to find gatekeepers at BYU have not been as successful. Although there are dozens of reference librarians who focus on periods or movements near my research area, their knowledge is usually too broad to help me find new or pertinent research.
My plan for finding "gatekeepers," and even potential informants, in London, is to use the connections I have with my primary mentor, and maybe the connections of one or two other professors I'm working with who have connections in London. I'm afraid that if I start from scratch and try to find my own gatekeepers, it will take me much longer than I can afford, and I may only find what I'm looking for very late in my field study, if at all.
One particular concept that I'm especially concerned with is Neuman's idea of "freeze-outs," especially in relationship to "presentation of self." In my previous experience, professors, librarians, historians, and other scholars have usually been very helpful and accommodating, even if I had difficult questions or was very misinformed/plan stupid about a topic that seemed common sense to them. But I know that a major factor in their helpfulness is that as BYU employees, they are here to help BYU students. Faculty mentoring for undergraduates is also an integral part of BYU, unlike many other universities. I worry that in London, I will have a much more difficult time trying to find experts who are willing to spend an hour or so helping a student doing undergraduate research. I expect to find many "freeze-outs." I'm not implying that experts in London are not as nice or accommodating as those at BYU, but I do believe that helping an undergraduate who doesn't attend their university or isn't otherwise part of their organization is not very high on their list. While I hope that most of my professors' connections will be accessible (because I'm a friend of a friend), I'm guessing that most of the connections I try to make by myself--and maybe even a good number of my professors' connections--will simply not have the time or want to go to the trouble of helping an undergrad on their research project.
This is why "presentation of self" is so important. I'm expecting to locate and arrange interviews mostly through email, and so it's absolutely vital to have a professional tone in my emails. Furthermore, since I might interview these experts multiple times over the course of my field study, it's important that I make a good first impression and continue to act professionally. I don't want to put so much effort into an email and a first interview only to find out that the expert is rejecting my second interview because he thought the first was a waste of time. And although I'd enjoy having friendly conversations with these experts and to feel a little relaxed around them, I don't want to cross any lines or act unprofessional in any way. I'd rather seem a little stand-offish than too familiar, and I want to keep the relationship of expert-and-learner very intact. Since I'm not there to find out their personal opinions or their private histories, I have little need to get close and personal, unless over the course of a few meetings their actions point towards a more relaxed conversation and atmosphere.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project Proposal Draft

The Accessions of Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth:

Redefining Royal, Religious, and Sexual Power in History and Literature

A Field Study Proposal

A. Statement of Intent

i. In my field study project, I intend to show the lasting effects of the accessions of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I on theories of royalty, religion, and gender. I will analyze seventeenth-century plays featuring these regents to illustrate three new ideas which entered into the English imagination as a consequence of these three queens’ monarchical refashioning. The three new ideas are as follows: one of the king’s two bodies can be female; acting as a monarch is as theatrical as playing a character onstage; and kingship is created by the imagination of the people, not by brute force, gender, or lineage. By living in London, I hope to access many historical documents and sites which may not otherwise be available to me, and understand the relationships between a monarch and their people.

ii. Outside of my project, I hope to experience the diversity of the many cultures which are present in an international city like London. In light of the coming royal wedding and the celebrations which will take place, I also hope to understand how the English relate to their royalty, especially the role royalty play in popular English thought and culture. And of course, I am excited to visit the country whose literature I have studied for the past three years, and see documents and historical sites which will influence my research as an undergraduate, grad student, and professor.

iii. I am framing my project as a rhetorical analysis of the public images and self-fashioning of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. I will use close readings and interpretations of play scripts and other media to examine the myths generated by particular use of language and the arts. I will use my findings to explore the impact which these three queens had on English thought, especially their impact on views on monarchical gender, the theatrical aspect of monarchy, and the interplay between kingship and imagination.

B. Background, Significance and Literature Review

i. Significance

Interpreting the success of women’s royal rhetoric and self-fashioning through the reigns of Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth is currently a very active field, but most scholars get bogged down in researching the biographies of these women and miss the significant socio-political changes brought about by their conjoined influences. Furthermore, the scholars studying these women are impaired by becoming mere fact-seekers rather than social historians: although Jane might not have been as much of a martyr, or Elizabeth a virgin, as they were mythologized to be, it is these myths, rather than unknown, obscure facts of their lives, which have influenced and shaped society. On the other hand, many of the scholars studying these queens make assumptions and assertions based off well-believed and well-disguised myths, rather than reality. Because of this, it is necessary to discover the myths and realities between these monarchs, and to track the development of these myths. By studying these women together rather than separately, and by focusing on the artistic and literary myths which each queen fashioned for herself, I hope to reveal the process by which these women were transformed symbolically from unlikely queens to a Protestant martyr, a Catholic heroine, and Gloriana.

ii. Location-specific Information

With the 500th anniversary (1509-2009) of Henry VIII’s coronation and the upcoming royal wedding in April 2011, my field study could not come at a better time. These events have created a renewed interest in monarchy, monarchical ceremonies, and the Tudor monarchs. The location of my field study in London is also very important. Not only does London have almost all of the historical sites which are necessary to my project—such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), St. Margaret’s Church, Greenwich Village—but it also is the hub of research, libraries, and museums in England, such as the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery.

iii. Topic-specific Information

A study of the rhetoric of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I begins with a discussion of Aristotle’s Rhetoric and his three modes of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos. In studying self-representation ethos is the essential mode. Ethos has been popularly and even traditionally defined as “ethical appeal” to an audience or “ethical proof”; in modern usage, many rhetoricians use ethos to mean “something like zeitgeist” (Reynolds 327). Although these definitions reveal some parts of the ancient Greek word, ethos, their meanings differ enough to call for a short etymological inquiry. In contrast to the modern definitions denoting morals and the spirit of an age, the ethos (εθοs) of ancient Greece seems to denote a specific place or society: Michael Halloran’s most accurate definition for ethos is “a habitual gathering place,” while Nedra Reynolds translates the word as “an accustomed place,” and Aristotle himself “used ethos to refer to the function of the polis” (Halloran 60, Reynolds 327-328). Thus, one’s ethos is dependent on location and society as well as one’s position within their location and society. For the purpose of my project, the term ethos will be defined as a rhetorical art of persuasion influenced by “the individual agent as well as the location or position from which that person speaks or writes” (Reynolds 326, italics mine).

This definition is especially significant for the role of ethos in the self-fashioning of royalty because it identifies two influences on the rhetoric: the individual and their role in society. The same two roles are essential in creating the character of a monarch, for as sole ruler of the realm, a monarch’s body is at the same time a physical, personal corpus and an incarnation of the entire country. This theory of royal power is best explored in Ernst H. Kantorowicz’s landmark book, The King’s Two Bodies. According to Kantorowicz, the monarch is both body natural and body politic, and the potential for the (in)separability of the two is built on centuries of English law, religion, politics, and tradition. To further muddle the concept of kingly identity, under Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, the king had two genders as well as two bodies (Herrup 496).

The interactions which create the monarch’s two bodies in many ways parallel the same process an actor completes when he plays a character onstage. During a performance, actors have both a personal body and a public body which have the same potential for (in)separability as the two bodies of a monarch. This commonality can be used for the benefit of the monarch, as was employed in Shakespeare’s propagandistic vilification of Richard III and acclamation of Henry VII, Elizabeth’s grandfather, in Richard III. However, there was also a great danger in portraying royalty in theatre: it was possible for an actor to represent a monarch so perfectly that they were too alike. In Selling the Tudor Monarchy, Kevin Sharpe explores the practice of “theatrical representation” as a potential danger to the regality of the throne because it made the hierarchy of monarchy appear fake and acted (17-18). This was truly a radical, “subversive” notion in a time period when the popular belief was that, “God ordained monarchs… as a sign of his remaining faith that a people who seemed incapable of obeying him might one day be redeemed” (Herrup 497).

But whether or not the subjects or the monarchs believed royal power was genuinely divine and royal actions divinely inspired, there is no doubt that careful rhetoric and self-fashioning was the real power behind the authority of sixteenth-century monarchy. Just the century before, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III had all lost their monarchical powers as the results of rebellions caused by people who were obviously not convinced of these kings’ divine right to rule. Yet convincing the people of one’s divine right to rule is only a small part of what astute self-fashioning and rhetoric can do for a monarch or for any public figure. As sixteenth-century English theatre proved, representation could be powerful enough to rewrite the past, present, and future. Tudor monarchs were experts in “selling an image”; they carefully crafted their public appearances, spoke with studied language, and dressed to fulfill the expectations and imaginations of their people (Cust 201). But Tudor monarchs also attempted to control their self-imaging among other media: coins, medallions, portraits, miniatures, seals, and even dinnerware (Sharpe xii). Furthermore, they took full advantage of the burgeoning print culture and consequently the realm was flooded with various representations of the monarch.

However, as Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth all recognized, once their speeches or woodcuts or miniature portraits were in the hands of their subjects, their self-representation was controlled by their subjects’ collective imaginations. The queen could not control mass opinions, but only react to their responses and build off it. Many of the myths which these queens created to further their influence and prestige among their people had more control over the queens than the queens had over them. For example, after years and years of styling herself as “The Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth had no option but to continue unmarried for the rest of her reign. The myth held so much symbolic weight that it simply could not be cast off at a whim.

Even after their deaths, there were certain myths about Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth which lasted much longer than the true events which occurred during their lives. For instance, the myth of Elizabeth as “Gloriana” and Mary as the hated “Bloody Mary” has biased many historians against the possibility of Mary’s accomplishing anything positive during her reign. In the article “Mary Tudor as ‘Sole Quene’?: Gendering Tudor Monarchy,” Judith M. Richards points out that many scholars forget Mary I dealt with problems of gender as the reigning monarch years before Elizabeth I did (895). Dazzled by Elizabeth’s rhetorical prowess and political skill, they prefer to think of her talents as original and self-taught, rather than influenced in any way by her less than popular half-sister.

As we have seen in this simple example of monarchic myths, these myths have infused themselves into our culture and practices to the point that even trained historians have a difficult time distinguishing between myth and historical reality. Through the different media from the Tudor period, we have insights into how Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth spoke, dressed, acted in public, treated friends and enemies, etc… or at least we have insights into what these women wanted us to believe about how they spoke, dressed, and so on.

Theatre is especially significant in providing insights into the myths/realities of these queens, for, when staged, a play incorporates all aspects of a monarch’s being and actions, not just their appearance or voice. While attending a play in which a monarch featured as a main character, the audience could see how the monarch spoke, looked, dressed, walked, danced, or whatever other actions the actor chose to portray onstage. Thus the refashioning of a monarch was intensified in theatre. In studying the reigning Tudor queens, three seventeenth-century plays particularly apply to the continuation and remaking of the queens’ myths: Thomas Heywood’s If You Know not Me, You Know No Bodie (1605), Thomas Dekker’s and John Webster’s The Famous History of Sir Thomas VVyat (1607), and John Banks’ The Innocent Usurper (1694). These three plays are especially useful to the subject of self-fashioning and myth-making for a few reasons: they were written long enough after the actual events to allow for some myth development; they were close enough to the actual events that they are still, to some extent, products of the sixteenth century.

Through close reading and interpretation of the events and people of these plays in comparison to the events and people as portrayed by history, I hope to track the origin of the myths surrounding Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, and determine, if possible, their impact on the collective English imagination. How did these monarchs actively participate and promote their own myths? How did they present their female bodies playing the role of king in such a way that was acceptable to their subjects? Did myth-making ultimately help or hinder the queens in their goals as monarchs? And finally, what new ideas entered into English thought as a direct result of these queens’ self-fashioning and myth-making?

C. Methodology/Procedures

i. Entry: I hope to find a host family through either online agencies or connections from friends. I plan on becoming familiar with the British Library and National Portrait Gallery, and using the connection I have with BYU professors who have connections in London to network with professors, historians, librarians, and other scholars in London.

ii. Informants: I am hoping to represent the Tudor Queens, both mythic and real, and I hope to learn from scholars who specialize in these areas.

iii. Sampling and Recruitment: The people I interview will be professors, historians, librarians, and any other scholars who live in the London area and specialize in Tudor England, myth, 17th-century theatre, gender, or any other aspect of my project. I hope to find my first contacts by networking with professors at BYU who have English connections, and then to work from there.

iv. Description of Method:

Conduct secondary research on Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:

This will involve a survey of literature which focuses primarily on the factual aspects of the queens’ lives. Because my thesis focuses on the interaction between myth and fact, it is absolutely necessary to distinguish between the two. Research on the mythical aspects of the queens’ lives and legacy will be conducted later. As I conduct this secondary research, I will write short introductory histories of the queens’ lives to include in my thesis.

Conduct primary research on Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:

Once I have collected a number of primary sources from the bibliographies of the secondary sources, I will research journal entries, royal decrees, letters of state, parliamentary documents, and any other texts which help elucidate aspects of the queens’ lives. In this part of the research, it may be hard to separate the factual queens from their mythic acting. This step may involve a visit to the British Library to see the texts firsthand. The texts I find here will also be included in writing the introductory histories to the queens’ lives.

Study the popular myths and stereotypes of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:

In this step, I will track the historical developments of the queens’ myths. This will involve a general study of “mythistorical” texts from the 16th century to the present, but will focus more specifically on the three 17th century plays. This step may also involve a visit to the British Library to see the texts firsthand. After I complete this step, I will begin the “mythistorical” sections of my thesis.

Research current theories on mythology versus factual history:

I will read articles, books, etc. expounding these theories, and make note of how they apply to Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth. This step may involve an interview with Dr. Carole Levin, a professor of history and a leading scholar of women in the English Renaissance, representations of women, and the role of imagination/myth in history. This step will help further complete the “mythistorical” sections of my thesis.

Conduct a textual analysis of the plays and compare their mythical representations of the queens to the factual queens:

This will involve an in-depth study of the literary aspects of the plays. Each play’s study will then become a section of the thesis. This research, in conjunction with all the other research, will also become the conclusion to my thesis.

D. Ethics and Approval

In interviewing professors, historians, and perhaps other scholars on topics regarding my project, I will maximize benefits and minimize risks by only asking about historical or literary subjects, and not posing any personal questions. Any personal opinions or private information which may happen during the course of an interview will not be shared within my project. I will use email or other means to contact these scholars and ask for an interview, but if they would not like to be interviewed, I will not contact them again. I plan to practice appropriate reciprocity with my host family by paying for my own meals and whatever portion of the rent they deem necessary for me to pay.

Note: To prevent accusations of plagiarism, it is necessary for me to record the names of the scholars I interview. Again, I will not be including any other sensitive information about them, only their viewpoints in regard to Tudor England, myth, gender, and other areas of my topic.

E. Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application

The paper I intend to write to present my research will also function as my Honors thesis. I plan on presenting chapters or a condensed version of my thesis at The Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, hosted by Moravian College in Pennsylvania. I also plan on publishing a chapter in one of the English Department’s undergraduate journals, Criterion or Literature and Belief. Further in the future, I hope to use the information and skills which I will learn on the field study to aid my research in masters and P.h.D. programs.

F. Qualifications of the Investigator

In my previous two years attending BYU, I’ve focused my studies primarily on 16th and 17th English literature. I have taken English 382 and Honors 303R, both Shakespeare classes which discussed Elizabethan culture in great depth. I have taken English 236, 291, 372, all of which primarily studied 16th century England, or at least had large units devoted to this period. My experiences in English 495 and 385, classes which studied the period just after Elizabeth, have helped me to understand some of Jane’s, Mary’s, and Elizabeth’s earlier impacts on English culture. I took WS 222 specifically to understand feminist rhetoric so I could better analyze these three English queens, and English 251, 451, and 311 have prepared me to critically assess primary and secondary sources. I have also used term paper assignments from WS 222, English 372, and English 495 to write in-depth papers about Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth, which I hope to turn into thesis chapters.

Furthermore, I’ve had experience in research and attending conferences. From June 2009 to June 2010, I worked as a research assistant, exploring medieval and renaissance European texts. I researched such areas as religious symbolism, biblical history, representations of Julius Caesar, medieval Irish poetry, and 16th century poetical theory, among many other subjects. As part of this job, I was also able to attend the Margaret Cavendish Society Conference in July 2009 and listen to the newest scholarship on 17th century English literature, which was very much affected by the monarchs of the previous century. Finally, I attended the Hawaii International Conference for the Arts and Humanities last January and presented a paper on 16th century English culture and its role in Shakespeare’s Othello.

My limitations in this project are my inexperience with London culture, as well as with big city culture in general. I hope that by contacting native Londoners/friends who currently live in London before my field study, I will be able to prepare myself as best as possible. I am also planning on living with a host family while in London, which will hopefully help me become better accommodated to the culture.

G. Qualifications of the Faculty Advisor

Dr. Brandie Siegfried has published extensively on sixteenth and seventeenth century women writers, and is president-elect of the Queen Elizabeth I Society. She teaches courses in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature. Her special interests include Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, early modern women writers, gender studies, and Irish literary history. She also has an interest in film, and often teaches an Honors course called Film Adaptations of Shakespeare.

Dr. Siegfried tends to take a cultural studies approach to literature, often providing interdisciplinary perspectives from ethnography, history, science, and art as lenses through which to read Renaissance texts. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Brigham Young University, an M.A. in Women's Studies from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature, also from Brandeis University. She joined the BYU English Department in 1993.

H. Justification of Infield Coursework and Faculty

During the Spring and Summer 2011 terms, I will take English 490R, English 480R, and either English 391 or 396. English 490R is a course for “English majors working with full-time faculty members in the English Department on readings that cannot be obtained in a regularly scheduled course.” I am planning on taking this course under the direction of Prof. Rick Duerden, and the readings which I will study (as referenced in the course description) will be primarily the three plays which I am analyzing for my project, as well as any other primary texts that assist in my research. English 480R is a course for students working with faculty members on research projects, such as ORCA grants, Honors Theses, and even field studies. I will be taking this course under the direction of Prof. Brandie Siegfried, and this course will focus on my project as a whole. For the last three hours of credit, I plan on taking either English 391: Women in Literature, which will enhance my study of gender in regards to Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I and their roles in literature; or I will take English 396: Introduction to Folklore, taught by Deidre Paulsen, which will introduce me to current scholarship and ideas about myth and its influence in literature.

I. Schedule

Jan 15 2011 Apply for the Robert K. Thomas Scholarship

Winter 2011 Write thesis draft

Spr/Sum 2011 Meet online twice weekly with Prof. Siegfried

April 27 2011 Leave for Field Study in England to complete research at libraries, museums, and various historic sites

June 15 2011 Second Draft of Thesis

July 30 2011 Third Draft of Thesis

August 3 2011 Return from Field Study in England

Oct 1 2011 Submit abstract to Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Nov 15 2011 Complete copy of thesis to Prof. Siegfried

Dec 15 2011 Final Field Study Paper submitted

Dec 31 2011 ORCA Final Report Due

Jan 2012 Submit chapter to Criterion and Literature and Belief

Jan 15 2012 Submit polished copy of thesis

Mar 1 2012 Complete thesis defense

Mar 8 2012 Submit four copies of thesis on bond paper for binding

J. Expenses/Budget

ISP expenses 275.00

Passport fees 135.00

Airplane ticket 1,120.00

Room (estimate) 2,000.00

Board (estimate) 600.00

Travel (estimate) 200.00

Tuition 2,210.00

Total 6,540.00

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning Journal 14: Babakiueria Response

At Cultural Inquiry last night, we watched a short film entitled Babakiueria. The film is basically a satire on the relationship between white Europeans and native Aboriginal Australians, and reverses the roles. Thus, white Europeans are the misunderstood second-class citizens, and the native Australians control the paternalistic government which subjugates the Europeans in the attempt to "help" them assimilate and improve. After the film, we had a discussion in which we talked about how Babakiueria applies in cross-cultural situations, like our field studies. Most of the comments focused on how we as students try to be understanding and helpful to people of other cultures, but we may appear fake and ignorant. In these situations, cultures clash rather than complement.
The point came up that in many countries throughout the world, Latter-day Saint temples can be clashing rather than complementing. I think this can be very true, in fact, I think most temples clash with any culture in which they are located (except possibly in Utah). Let's face it, a huge white building (as most temples are) with beautiful architecture and acres of manicured gardens, fountains, and walkways is bound to stick out amongst suburbs and commercial districts. But in some cultures, not only do Latter-day Saint temples stick out, their richness and architecture seem to be excessive, as if the LDS church built a temple in a poor city so they could show off how wealthy they are in comparison to the other churches. In cities and countries in which poverty is a huge crisis, one may be tempted to ask why the LDS church spends money on a high-maintenance temple when they could easily give the funds to the poor.
This can be a very tricky situation to explain to others, in fact, sometimes I find it a little difficult to explain to myself. What helps me understand why the LDS church builds temples when they could use the money for humanitarian work consists of two doctrines: 1) All Latter-day Saints need to go to the temple to receive ordinances and be sealed (and these eternal covenants are more important in the long run than a few dollars of ecclesiastical aid), and 2) if we believe the temple is the Lord's house, then assembling a cheap temple (or none at all) shows a seriously dangerous lack of respect for Him.
But these points are probably not easily explained to the native people, and even if they are LDS, they may be so burdened by their poverty that they don't understand why cheaper temples could be built. Then again, since I've never been outside the United States/Canada and I've never really lived in poverty, I don't know what people could be thinking. But I do know that wherever I go in the world, I will most likely face questions and criticisms about the church. Some of our beliefs and practices (like building expensive temples in poor countries) make no sense to the outside world, and can even be viewed as offensive, self-centered, and definitely holier-than-thou. My job as a representative of the church is to present our beliefs as clearly and as true as they really are, and hope that the people I talk to can understand and honor our doctrines. However, as we saw in Babakiueria, it's possible that my beliefs will be so foreign to others that they cannot understand me, and that I will appear fake and our cultures may clash a little. In a world of cultural studies, relativism seems to be the key in understanding each other, but in religion, there are some things which simply are or are not true (for everyone, at every place, at every time). I think that in going to London, one of my biggest challenges to face will be deciding what about my religion is actually doctrinal truth, what is just cultural beliefs, and how present doctrinal truth (when asked) without sounding naive or ethnocentric.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Learning Journal 13: How to Read a Book/Article

One of the most interesting things that I'm learning as part of my field study project is the correct methodology of reading books and articles. Before I started doing intense research on this project, I had the idea that if you were smart enough to get a non-fiction history published, you were smart enough to have all your sources correct. I thought that publishing companies were the guardians of world knowledge, who would grant you a contract if your ideas were sensible and well-researched, and if not, they'd kick you out to outer darkness.
But as crazy as it seems, not all publishing companies have the means (or motivation) to source-check the manuscripts sent to them. As I've discovered, most books on Lady Jane Grey tend to get away with all sorts of errors because 1) the truth and lies about Lady Jane are so closely intertwined, they're hard to separate, and 2) publishers probably do not have an expert on Lady Jane (a very minor character in Tudor history) to fact check the manuscripts. Luckily, Elizabeth I and Mary I are more important, historically speaking, and thus the books written about them tend to be better edited because of their celebrity status.
Another lesson I learned is that "reinventing the wheel" happens in disciplines as professional as historiography. A few weeks ago, my project was all about "mythistory" and its effect on the legacies of Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth. I had read some articles on "mythistory," and I had checked out the first books establishing mythistory as a historiographical trend. But then I discuss mythistory with my faculty advisor, and she said she hadn't heard anything about it, so she advised me to speak with one of her friends who was a history professor. I spoke with the history professor, and she said that mythistory was basically a reworking of the current historiographical practice, which is currently called "The Cultural/Literary Turn." She said that other than having a wittier name, mythistory was basically right in sync with the type of history that is being taught and studied today. This was rather depressing, since my project was built around setting modern historiographical methods up as an inadequate way of interpreting the past, and then suggesting mythistory as the new historiography. However, I'm glad she saved me from this mistake, because it'd be quite laughable to set mythistory up as battling against an outdated historiography which didn't actually exist.
As I've continued in my research, I've realized that reading books and articles is, in many ways, like interviewing people. When you interview someone about their lifestyle or opinions or culture, you don't assume that every story they tell you is 100% correct, and you don't interview only them. You interview many different people, as many as it takes until you finally feel like you know the "truth" about something. Or, at least, as close to the truth as you think it is possible to be. Most of the time, the people you interview are not trying to deceive you, but they may have just gotten their sources wrong or are too strongly affected by a bias. It's the same way with books and articles, which are difficult to analyze because they are created by biased, flawed individuals, but then are expected to be judged as truth.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Methods Practice II: Participant Observation

Setting: Evening at Springville Art Museum

Descriptive notes:
There were three or four children (probably siblings) running around the museum and asking a man (probably their father) to take pictures of them near certain works of art. He told them to pose like the person(s) in the work of art, and then would take a picture. This happened four or five times, and eventually a child would just run up to a work, pose like it, and call to their dad. This meant that they wanted a picture. One girl wanted her picture taken next to a sculpture of a man on a horse, so she posed next to it and called to her dad. He didn't respond, so she called louder and knocked on the glass box which the sculpture was housed in to try to get his attention. This got his attention, and he told her to stop knocking. She kept knocking, he repeated what he had said, and she stopped. She asked to have her picture taken, and he took her picture, along with her little brother who had joined her and posed with her.
Most people kept a certain distance from the art, although it wasn't uncommon to see someone touching it. People tended to keep a further distance from paintings rather than sculptures.
There were many families (I'm assuming they were families, considering they were groups of people with a man, a woman, and similar-looking children who all seemed to know each other well) at the museum. Most stayed together as they looked at the art, with the children either leading or following the parents.
A few young girls were wearing pioneer-looking clothes.
Many children were holding papers and pen/pencils. They were reading clues from these papers and using these clues to find certain pieces of art throughout the museum.
A lot of people walked with a certain "looking-at-art" gait, which is different than when someone is walking to a class or appointment, walking down the street, or just going on a walk.
Some people, especially children, spoke loudly when in the museum. Most spoke in a lower volume than usual.
Parents pointed out certain works which they found interesting to their children.
Most people looked at art in groups.
Most people had no real object or destination; they tended to wander through the exhibit.
A few people sat on the benches in the exhibit and talked instead of looking at the art.
People moved around someone even if they were in the way of a piece they wanted to look at.
The children with papers wrote on their papers.
People tended to look around when they walked, rather than looking at the ground or at a specific point.
A museum employee who needed a bench moved asked two young men to help her with it, and they agreed. They did not seem to know each other.
The museum employees struck up conversations with the visitors, and in most cases they did not seem to know each other.
No one other than the museum employees started conversations with people they did not know.
When the museum employees did start talking to visitors, the visitors usually talked back and were friendly.
A woman was talking to a museum employee. Her toddler (I assume) walked around one of the exhibits. The woman kept glancing at her child, and did not move to get the child unless she wandered out of eyesight.
The children writing on the papers did not have clipboards or notebooks to write on, so they used the walls or even pedestals holding sculptures as hard surfaces for writing.
The museum employees also struck up conversations with the children, and most of the children talked back and were friendly.
The children with the papers seemed to have more direction and purpose in their exploring of the museum than anyone else.
Some parents provided help/affirmation to their children who were searching for certain works of art.
One parent helping a younger girl told his older son not to give her any hints, to "let her figure it out herself."
A man was taking a picture of a work of art some 10 or 15 feet away, and people tried to stay out of the space between him and the work of art.
People who knew each other were more often physically closer together than those who didn't.
People who had coats either wore them or held them in their arms, they didn't put them on a hook or try to find a coat closet.
Groups of 3 or more people tended to stand in a curve or circle to talk.

Methodological notes:
Don't appear too serious or stand-offish when taking notes around people. It makes people suspicious of what you are writing down.
If you are taking notes of children, make sure to appear friendly, and to act as if you're not staring at children (even though you are). You don't want to look like a pedophile.
The museum employees assume that if you're alone, you must be lonely, and they'll come and talk to you.

Analytical notes:
Each family or group of people had different "rules" about the appropriate distance to keep from the art. Most parents asked their children to stop touching the art, but some parents didn't notice or make comments when their children touched a sculpture lightly or rested their hand on a pedestal holding an art piece. They also were more lenient in letting their children touch or get close to sculptures; I guess the idea is that a bronze statue is less likely to be damaged by touch than the delicate pigments of a painting.
I'm guessing that there was a family activity that had just finished at the museum, and that at the end they had given out a sort of "scavenger hunt" activity to find certain works of art. The clues to find these works were written on the paper, and once found, the children were supposed to write the title of the piece on the paper. It was interesting to see how children reacted to the usual excitement and urgency that comes from a scavenger hunt in a museum setting, which usually is quiet and relaxing. Most children lowered their level of excitement over the scavenger hunt since they realized that it was not appropriate for a museum, but their actions were, in general, more hyper than the other children in the museum who were not participating in the scavenger hunt.
The museum employees were probably more apt to start conversations with complete strangers for two reasons: 1) As employees, they felt comfortable in the museum and enjoyed being in the museum. They wanted others to feel comfortable in the museum as well, and they did so by talking with them and sharing their knowledge about the art and the museum with them. 2) The employees knew that the museum would be frequented more if the visitors had a good experience at the museum, and they thought that part of this experience could be provided by a friendly conversation. They talked to the visitors in an effort to "please their customers."
People in groups who were casually looking at the art (not analyzing it or judging it aesthetically) tended to discuss the art in relation to themselves. They made comments like, "I love this [insert aspect of painting here]," or "I would love to like in a place like that," or "In my opinion, this looks like..." They didn't talk directly about a painting, but instead used it to begin talking about something else.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning Journal 12: Response to "Selling the Tudor Monarchy"

Although I did read and prepare an articles for class--

Reynolds, Nedra. "Ethos as Location: New Sites for Understanding Discursive Authority." Rhetoric Review 11.2 (Spring 1993): 325-338. Print. JSTOR

--I found that today I really wanted to discuss some passages which I've been reading in Selling the Tudor Monarchy, by Kevin Sharpe, which is the book I am reading for the class. The passage which I read deals directly with my project, so I'll quote it here:

"From the Reformation (if not earlier), rulers and/or their ministers favoured plays as a means of persuading audiences to adopt a position, or of proclaiming and publicizing power. At the same time and later, a succession of Tudor and Stuart monarchs had occasion to lament the staging of plays critical of the royal policy or person. The danger... lay in theatrical representation itself. On the stage, a boy performed the role of a king (or queen) and so drew attention to regality itself as play and performance. On the stage, too, royal words (scripted by another) were refuted or disputed and the actor playing the king depended, no less than his fellows, on the reaction, the approval and applause, of the audience... theatrical 'representation offers an inherent challenge to the fundamental categories of a culture that would organise itself hierarchically and present that organisation as inevitable', such representations, by refiguring all as performed and enacted, was inherently 'subversive'." (pp. 16-17)

According to Sharpe, the problem with theatre is that it deconstructs social hierarchies (like royalty) into just a bunch of really talented actors. While it may seem like the awesome power of a monarch comes from Deity Himself, seeing a lower-middle-class actor get up onstage and inspire the audience with the same power of a monarch makes one question exactly where royal power comes from. The actor's power comes not from heaven, but from his ability to keep the audience's attention. He is completely at the mercy of the audience: if they are in a bad mood, they might not clap; if they think he's boring, he might get booed off the stage. And so the big question during the flourishing of theatre in Elizabethan England was, "If actors can impersonate monarchs so perfectly, is there really a difference between them? And if the power of the actor comes from the audience, then does the power of a monarch come from the people?" The idea that power came from the people was quite a radical notion in the 16th-century, and seemed to go against everything England stood for.

Two of the plays which I am analyzing for my project have Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I as their protagonists and are written to celebrate and flatter these women. However, just the act of putting a monarch (or other powerful historical figure) in a play actually reduces their power rather than celebrates it. I will explain. There are two different types of power associated with a person like Elizabeth I. The first type is her own personal power: her ability to order people around, her mental capacity for maneuvering complex situations, and her basic physical strength. The second type is her mythical power: by evoking her status as the Virgin Queen, she convinces Parliament not to force her to get married; by evoking the idea that, as a monarch, she has both masculine and feminine characteristics, she convinces her subjects to fight the Spanish; by referencing her famous ancestors, she is able to claim the throne. While the second type of power is infinitely more powerful, it is also more dangerous. In order to get people to obey this power, she must remind them of certain myths about herself; myths which have a dangerous tendency to change or to mean different things to different people. Furthermore, myths can be interpreted differently, and sometimes to the monarch's demise. For instance, the myth of absolute power worked fine for the Tudor monarchs, but when the early Stuart monarchs tried to use it, the people interpreted it differently and committed regicide. In many cases, myths are so powerful that no one can control them.

This is what I find so fascinating about these queens. In order to rule the English people, they had to embrace and create myths about themselves in order to increase their power. However, as time went on, did they still have that power and that control over the myth, or had they become simply a character in the potent myth they had created, forced to obey the rules of the myth?

I hope to answer at least part of this question in my project.