Gale Flament
Research Methods
April 18, 2006
 
Master’s Thesis  
Preliminary Draft of Idea/Methods
I  Idea
            I plan to write my thesis about Fanny Brawn.  She was an English woman who lived from 1800 till 1862.  When she was a young woman of twenty, the poet John Keats was in love with her.  Because there is so much interest in Keats, and because so much has been written about him, quite a bit has also been written about Fanny Brawn. There is a lot of interest in her character, her feelings for Keats, her effect upon him, and so on. 
I plan to write about Fanny Brawn from a different perspective.  From my preliminary reading, I learned that Fanny Brawn was very knowledgeable about the history of costume and fashion.  Several writers have mentioned that she was something of an expert.  She was a fashionable person herself, but her interest in fashion seems to have gone beyond that.
Fanny Brawn kept two scrapbooks, which were formerly on display at Keats House in Wentworth Place, outside of London.  They are now being stored in the London Archive.  With the help of Joe LaRose, I searched all the appropriate data bases to see if anyone has ever written about the scrapbooks, or about Fanny Brawn’s interest in fashion history.  We could find no record of any such research, here or in Great Britain.
I have contacted the archive, and they have given me permission to see the scrapbooks.  There are direct flights from Cleveland to London through the end of September.  Since there is no language barrier, and I have enough frequent flyer miles, I do not see any impediment to my going. I would like to find a free or very cheap place to stay while I am there, though.  Dr. Gunn seems to think that one week is more than sufficient time to examine the scrapbooks.
I have two possible focuses for my research.  If I can find enough information about Fanny Brawn’s knowledge of, and interest in fashion history, then I would like to write about her, as a fashion-interested person of the Romantic period in England.  I would use the scrapbooks to help document the research.  If, on the other hand, I find that there is not enough information available about this aspect of her personality, I will make the scrapbooks the focus of my thesis.  I will conduct an artifact study of them.  This may include some content analysis.  I will use the information I find in my reading as background to understanding the scrapbooks.
 I will not know which way I am going until I get into the research more.
 
II Information Gathering
My background research, from secondary sources, will focus on the following areas:
1.  Beau Brummell – Fanny Brawn was a first cousin to this famous dandy.       Apparently, the fashion interest ran in the family.  I want to know how much, if any, contact they had with each other.  He is a lot older.
2.       Fashion plates of the Regency period and Romantic period- I need to have a good knowledge of these, as they are most likely to be the sources she used to make the scrapbooks.  Who published them? When?  Where?  Who were the artists?  How and where were they purchased, and so on.  I need to be knowledgeable about these.
3.   Writings by people who knew Fanny Brawn-    Two of Keats’ friends have        written about her.  There may be other accounts as well.
4.        Anything else written about her-  I have read the one and only biography about her.  There are some works of fiction, and numerous references to her in books on Keats.
5.       Letters she wrote-  Fanny Brawn wrote to Keats’s sister, also named Fanny, for about two years after his death.  There are references to her fashion interest in those letters that I can use. Letters she wrote to Keats, and he to her, do not touch upon this subject.
6.       Background information about the English Romantic period-  I will need to research this era, so that I can understand the culture in which she lived. Fashion is so much a mirror of culture, I believe that I must be well-versed in this area.
 
III The Scrapbooks as Artifacts
            I will be able to determine from the scrapbooks, how Fanny Brawn got her knowledge of fashion.  What sources did she look at?  What was the extent of her knowledge?  Did she know about folk costume, for example, or was her interest limited to fashionable clothing in western cultures?
            I have not seen the scrapbooks, but I expect to be able to analyze their content, tracking sources, number of times used, areas of interest, etc.
 
IV Timetable:
Summer I, 2006                       I will finish my course work at University of Akron
September, 2006                      I hope to be finished with my reading.
October, 2006                         I will go to the London Archive to examine the scrapbooks. 
January, 2007                           I will have written my thesis.


Here are some things I found:
Brawn or Brawne??
http://www.antiqbook.com/boox/cum/21077.shtml
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/keatsltr.html#excerpt3