skinner02 at sprynet.com
Wed Apr 23 08:21:30 PDT 2003
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IMHO research in embroidery history is as any other research - necessarily a look at primary source material (i.e. the textiles or primary documents about them) and then reading the opinions of other researchers and reading supporting material.
I go back and forth between original textiles and "the books" and learn from both. A book is a wonderful start to research as it can point us to the primary source material and then we develop a critical eye and a feeling for which authors we respect and whose opinions seem "right on" to us.
Virtually all of us have within driving distance a museum with primary source material. It is a great place to start.
When I teach others about research methodology I try to teach "the critical eye". Document others' opinions and findings for yourself. Take a broad view. Look at originals or photographs of all the existing textiles of a particular class. Read all the opinions about them. Read other source material - socio-political and economic history of the period and area. Put it all together and come up with opinions of your own.
As to opinions of historians, I can recommend "Inventing the Middle Ages, the Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century" by Norman F. Cantor ISBN 0 688 09406 6 A look at how scholarship changes fashion and research changes opinions and shapes how we perceive a period and its culture.
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