(Re)shaping the question

My primary area of interest – other than archival studies – is English literature, and in particular Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. When writing my research proposal, the greatest difficulty that I found was how to articulate my interests, which are literary (and therefore belong more to the ‘humanities’ school) in nature, within the framework of the social sciences. In particular, the methodology section was confusing, as I am used to thinking of ‘the method’ as simply reading a text, thinking about what the work says, researching the criticism that has been written about the work, and then attempting to contribute to the scholarly tradition with my own analysis. I thus found myself having to think of how the project, originally entirely theoretical, might have some practical applications which could be researched and established through a more ‘sociological’ approach.

Overall, however, I found the experience of writing a SSHRC proposal extremely rewarding. In particular, it helped me to refine my interests and general objective. I will try to use this approach again (if I am ever put again in the position), when I write literary criticism. By thinking of how my analysis can be applied to practical, real-world questions, I should be able to present my work in a more convincing shape.

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