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AOA7001 Research Methodology in Literary Studies

How to Write A Research Proposal

aApplicants for higher degree programmes by research are required to submit a
ccomprehensive statement of the research programme which they propose to carry out. The
pproposal should comprise the following elements:-

• Field of Research
• Topic of Research Proposal
• Background or a brief literature review on the research topic
• Objective of Study
Explain the objective(s) that influence the research
• Methodology of study
Explain the methods used in study such as library research, lab work, field work,
historical documentary, interview, survey, evaluation and analysis, etc.
• Work schedule
• Equipment required (where applicable)
• Please give details on the estimated cost (where applicable)
• Brief bibliography

The research proposal should contain between 1,500 - 2,000 words or about four (4) pages.





Submitted by:

1. Field of Research

Nineteenth-century British Literature

2. Topic of Research Proposal

Images of Domesticity in Romantic Orientalist Fiction by Women, 1800-1850

3. Literature Review
Much of the critical scholarship in the field of Romantic literary studies dealing with
the drawing room annual as a genre tends merely to emphasize its role as a symbol of
wealth and social status in nineteenth-century popular culture. Authors like Anne
Renier in Friendship’s Offering: An Essay on the Annuals and Gift Books of the
Nineteenth Century (1964) and Anne Mellor in Romanticism and Gender (1993), for
instance, both reinforce the idea that these books were purchased primarily for public
display in the homes of fashionable ladies of “taste and refinement,” or those who
wanted to be perceived as such.
Yet, as Glennis Stephenson observes in Letitia Landon: The Woman behind L.E.L.
(1995), the annuals were more than visually attractive books marketed for an
undiscerning, female audience. In fact, they played a crucial role in the construction
and consolidation of a middle-class female domestic ideal, one that was achieved
through the linking of the female images that appeared within them with English
national character. These idealized depictions of womanhood--embodied in the visual
and poetical illustrations of beautiful young women, both English and foreign--were
highly influential in the perpetuation of such middle-class domestic virtues as
monogamy, Christianity, and the imperial civilizing mission, and were thus used to
“[help] legitimize both England’s sense of moral superiority and the imperial
ambitions this superiority underwrote” (144). Mellor’s later study, Mothers of the

Nation: Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780-1830 (2000), extends this

argument by calling attention to how British women authors created and sustained a
sense of cross-cultural sorority through the celebration of the domestic sphere,
especially in their role as benevolent Christians who empathized with the colonized,
subjugated Eastern woman.
My Ph.D. dissertation, “Bandit Queens and Eastern Sisters: Byronic Heroines and
British Nationalism, 1770-1840” (2005) builds upon the feminist ideas that underlie
the work of Stephenson and Mellor on nineteenth-century women authors. In my
chapter on Letitia E. Landon, especially, I argue that the annuals provide important
insights into how women authors like Landon displayed a sympathetic view of
Eastern women, and deployed them as images of sentimental womanhood in her
Orientalist fiction in order to assert notions of English national identity in an era of
colonial expansion. In doing so, I demonstrate how it is inaccurate to assume that
xenophobia is a conceptual given in Romantic literary discourse, as Rajani Sudan
claims in Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720-1850 (2002),
since female authors like Landon clearly rejected an overly simplistic view of the
Oriental woman as passive and morally depraved.
More importantly, my research on Landon’s literary output in the drawing room
annuals revealed the as yet untapped potential of this genre as a source for
understanding how nineteenth-century British female authors perceived the Oriental
woman -- not as an overtly sexualized, exotic “other” to be abhorred, but instead as
the feminine West’s “recognizable image in the mirror,” as Billie Melman notes in
Women’s Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718-1918 (1992). The
proposed research project aims to extend my study of British women writers who
published in the annuals during the latter half of the Romantic period, hence the
emphasis on writings from 1800 to 1850 (the year in which the popularity of the
annuals showed a marked decline). Many of the authors and editors of the annuals
like Mary Howitt, Sarah Ellis, and Lady Blessington adopted the literary style made
popular by Landon in the 1830s, choosing poems and illustrations that focused on the
interior of Eastern homes, and that displayed a concern with the daily lives and

common experiences of Eastern peoples--one made possible through the emphasis on

Although the Orientalist fiction that appeared in the annuals of the 1830s
continued to reflect elements of negative cultural stereotypes (as seen in its
dependence on such figures as the harem slave, for example), the female contributors’
persistent use of images of domesticity in their depictions of the Orient and its
peoples also underscores the idea of sorority through an emphasis on sameness over
difference. Such an ambivalent attitude towards the East suggests that the annuals
enabled these women authors to embrace their roles as Christians through their
sympathy for their “oppressed sisters,” while simultaneously cultivating a sense of
national pride in the moral superiority of England and its women--a mitigating
outlook that served to consolidate the role of England as a colonial power. The
annuals, in short, reveal invaluable insights into the ways in which literary texts not
only reflect the socio-historical conditions of their time, but are also highly influential
in the transmission of nationalist propaganda.

4. Research Objectives

i. To examine the domesticated representation of the Orient and its peoples in

British literature written by female authors between 1800-1850
ii. To emphasize the role of the drawing room annual in the cultivation and
perpetuation of racial and cultural stereotypes about the Orient and its peoples
iii. To illustrate how images of domesticity in such fiction were used to assert and
strengthen English national identity in an era of colonial expansion
iv. To demonstrate the significance of female-authored Orientalist fiction as a
vehicle for the promotion of cross-cultural understanding in nineteenth-
century England.

5. Significance of Research

As a literary genre popularized by female authors, and produced primarily for the
consumption of women, the drawing room annual has yet to receive sufficient
attention in terms of its role in nineteenth-century popular culture. Despite its

reputation as a form of writing that was blatantly commercialistic and lacking in taste
and artistic merit, however, the annuals were highly influential in the perpetuation of
such middle-class domestic virtues as monogamy, Christianity, and the imperial
civilizing mission. Drawing upon selected poems and prose published between1800
to 1850 in such annuals as Fisher’s Drawing Room Scrap Book and Heath’s Book of
Beauty, my research will attempt to reveal how Oriental images and characters found
in these texts enabled women authors to foster cross-cultural understanding among
their readers through the foregrounding of similarities in the domestic life of East and
West. By “domesticating” the Orient for the consumption of the English reading
public, these female authors also demonstrate their rejection of negative cultural and
racial stereotypes about the East in favor of a more inclusive nationalist ideology
based on the primacy of the domestic affections. Such a view not only enables these
authors to promote a feminine bond of sympathy between English women and their
“eastern sisters,” but also reflects the notion of the British Empire as maternal and
nurturing toward her colonies--a form of propaganda which proved eminently useful
in the consolidation of the colonial civilizing mission.

6. Research Methodology
This project will be handled predominantly through library research, both locally and
abroad. However, due to the esoteric and antiquated nature of the drawing room
annuals mentioned, many of which were published in the nineteenth century, and are
thus fragile and highly valuable, most of the materials will need to be sourced and
photocopied (when permitted) from the archives of such specialist libraries as The
Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Houghton Library of Harvard
University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the British Library in London. Please
refer to Attachment A for the project schedule, which outlines in greater detail the
various stages involved, namely sourcing of materials, data collection, textual
interpretation and analysis, synthesis and conclusion and publication of findings, as
well as the estimated time in months required for the completion of each.

7. Work Schedule

Please refer to Attachment A (Lampiran A).

8. Estimated Cost of Research Project

Please see Attachment B.


Units Qty Rate Sub total

(a) Kelengkapan & Alat


Interlibrary Loan per document 25 RM 75.00 RM 1875.00

Typing services (2 drafts + 1 per sheet 75 RM 5.00 RM 375.00

final of 25 sheets each)

Photocopying of research per sheet 200 RM 0.10 RM 20.00


(b) Bekalan-bekalan (bahan

kimia/bahan kaca/alatulis
per ream 2 RM 10.00 RM 20.00
per unit 1 RM 200.00 RM 200.00
Laser jet printer cartridge

TOTAL RM 2490.00

9. Brief bibliography

Please refer to Attachment C (Lampiran C).