Friday 27 December 2013

Elaine Showalter: Towards A Feminist Poetics: The Summary

Elaine Showalter: Towards A Feminist Poetics

Dilip Barad

Department of English
Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University

Citation: Cite this

This content explores the work and ideas of Elaine Showalter, a prominent figure in feminist literary theory and criticism. Showalter's writings emphasize the importance of understanding the feminist tradition and its impact on literary analysis. She criticizes stereotypes of feminism and the tendency to neglect theory, arguing for a poetics of feminist criticism. Showalter divides feminist criticism into two sections: the woman as reader or feminist critique, which examines the representation of women in literature and critiques male-dominated perspectives, and the woman as writer or gynocritics, which focuses on constructing a female framework for analyzing women's literature. Showalter acknowledges the challenges of defining women's writing but sees gynocriticism as a means to understand women's relation to literary culture. She outlines three phases of women's literature: the feminine phase, the feminist phase, and the female phase, each characterized by different goals and approaches. Showalter calls for a cultural perspective in feminist criticism that recognizes the diversity of women's experiences. Overall, Showalter's views on feminist poetics are intelligent, balanced, and thought-provoking, reflecting her belief in the transformative power of feminist analysis.

Keywords: Elaine Showalter, feminist literary theory, feminist critique, gynocritics, women's literature, cultural perspective.

About the author: Elaine Showalter (born January 21, 1941) is an American literary critic, feminist, and writer on cultural and social issues. She is one of the founders of feminist literary criticism in United States academia, developing the concept and practice of gynocritics.
She is well known and respected in both academic and popular cultural fields. She has written and edited numerous books and articles focused on a variety of subjects, from feminist literary criticism to fashion, sometimes sparking widespread controversy, especially with her work on illnesses. Showalter has been a television critic for People magazine and a commentator on BBC radio and television.

Showalter is a specialist in Victorian literature and the Fin-de-Siecle (turn of the 19th century). Her most innovative work in this field is in madness and hysteria in literature, specifically in women’s writing and in the portrayal of female characters.

Showalter's best known works are Toward a Feminist Poetics (1979), The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture (1830–1980) (1985), Sexual Anarchy: Gender at Culture at the Fin de Siecle (1990), Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media (1997), and Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage (2001). In 2007 Showalter was chair of the judges for the prestigious British literary award, the Man Booker International Prize.

Showalter's book Inventing Herself (2001), a survey of feminist icons, seems to be the culmination of a long-time interest in communicating the importance of understanding feminist tradition. Showalter’s early essays and editorial work in the late 1970s and the 1980s survey the history of the feminist tradition within the “wilderness” of literary theory and criticism. Working in the field of feminist literary theory and criticism, which was just emerging as a serious scholarly pursuit in universities in the 1970s, Showalter's writing reflects a conscious effort to convey the importance of mapping her discipline’s past in order to both ground it in substantive theory, and amass a knowledge base that will be able to inform a path for future feminist academic pursuit.

Showalter is concerned by stereotypes of feminism that see feminist critics as being ‘obsessed with the phallus’ and ‘obsessed with destroying male artists’. Showalter wonders if such stereotypes emerge from the fact that feminism lacks a fully articulated theory.
Another problem for Showalter is the way in which feminists turn away from theory as a result of the attitudes of some male academics: theory is their property. Showalter writes: ‘From this perspective, the academic demand for theory can only be heard as a threat to the feminist need for authenticity, and the visitor looking for a formula that he or she can take away without personal encounter is not welcome’. In response, Showalter wants to outline a poetics of feminist criticism.
In Toward a Feminist Poetics Showalter divides feminist criticism into two sections:
The Woman as Reader or Feminist Critique : ‘the way in which a female reader changes our apprehension of a given text, awakening it to the significance of its sexual codes’; historically grounded inquiry which probes the ideological assumptions of literary phenomena’; ‘subjects include the images and stereotypes of women in literature, the omissions of and misconceptions about women in criticism, and the fissures in male–constructed literary history’; ‘concerned with the exploitation and manipulation of the female audience, especially in popular culture and film, and with the analysis of woman–as–sign in semiotic systems’; ‘political and polemical’; like the Old Testament looking for the errors of the past.
One of the problems of the feminist critique is that it is male–orientated. If we study stereotypes of women, the sexism of male critics, and the limited roles women play in literary history, we are not learning what women have felt and experienced, but only what men thought women should be. […] The critique also has a tendency to naturalize women’s victimization by making it the inevitable and obsessive topic of discussion.
The Woman as Writer or Gynocritics (la gynocritique) :
Showalter coined the term 'gynocritics' to describe literary criticism based in a feminine perspective. Probably the best description Showalter gives of gynocritics is in Towards a Feminist Poetics:
In contrast to [an] angry or loving fixation on male literature, the program of gynocritics is to construct a female framework for the analysis of women’s literature, to develop new models based on the study of female experience, rather than to adapt male models and theories. Gynocritics begins at the point when we free ourselves from the linear absolutes of male literary history, stop trying to fit women between the lines of the male tradition, and focus instead on the newly visible world of female culture.
This does not mean that the goal of gynocritics is to erase the differences between male and female writing; gynocritics is not “on a pilgrimage to the promised land in which gender would lose its power, in which all texts would be sexless and equal, like angels”. Rather gynocritics aims to understand the specificity of women’s writing not as a product of sexism but as a fundamental aspect of female reality. Its prime concern is to see ‘woman as producer of textual meaning, with the history themes, genres, and structures of literature by women’. Its ‘subjects include the psychodynamics of female creativity. It studies linguistics and the problem of a female language in literary text. It reviews the trajectory of the individual or collective female literary career. It proposes ‘to construct a female framework for the analysis of women’s literature, to develop new models based on women’s experience’. Its study  ‘focuses on the newly visible world of female culture’; ‘hypotheses of a female sub–culture’; ‘the occupations, interactions, and consciousness of women’. It projects how ‘feminine values penetrate and undermine the masculine systems that contain them’. And at its extreme, it is ‘engaged in the myth of the Amazons, and the fantasies of a separate female society’.
Showalter acknowledges the difficulty of “[d]efining the unique difference of women’s writing” which she says is “a slippery and demanding task” in “Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness”. She says that gynocritics may never succeed in understanding the special differences of women’s writing, or realize a distinct female literary tradition. But, with grounding in theory and historical research, Showalter sees gynocriticism as a way to “learn something solid, enduring, and real about the relation of women to literary culture”.
Showalter then provides an exemplary feminist critique of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge to demonstrate that “one of the problems of the feminist critique is that  it is male-oriented,” meaning that, in some sense, every feminist critique, even when criticizing patriarchy, is focused toward the male. As an alternative, Showalter presents gynocritics as a way “to construct a female framework for the analysis of women’s literature, to develop new models based on the study of female experience, rather that to adapt to male models and theories.”
To begin to trace out this radically female-centered theory, Showalter notes excerpts from feminist historians and sociologists. She then moves on to an engaging discussion of the experiences of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and other female authors to show the need for “completeness” in discussing women authors’ work way in which “it is necessary to leave oneself room to deal with other things besides [women writers'] work, so much has that work been influenced by conditions that have nothing whatever to do with art.”
Beauvoir, Cixous and Showalter: The Trio of Feminist Literary Thought

Three Phases:
From these experiences, Showalter then begins a rough sketch of some of the elements that have characterized women’s writing: awakening, suffering, unhappiness, and matrophobia, among others. She concludes with her classification of women’s writing into three phases that “establish[es] the continuity of the female tradition from decade to decade, rather than from Great Woman to Great Woman.”
Thus, Showalter traces the history of women's literature, suggesting that it can be divided into three phases:
  1. The Feminine phase (1840–1880): Showalter sees the first phases taking place from roughly 1840 to 1880; she calls this “the Feminine phase” and declares that it is characterized by “women [writing] in an effort to equal the intellectual achievements of the male culture… The distinguishing sign of this period is the male pseudonym… [which] exerts an irregular pressure on the narrative, affecting tone, diction, structure, and characterization.”
  2. The Feminist phase (1880–1920): The second, Feminist phase follows from 1880 to 1920, wherein “women are historically enabled to reject the accommodating postures of femininity and to use literature to dramatize the ordeals of wronged womanhood.” This phase is characterized by “Amazon Utopias,” visions of perfect, female-led societies of the future. This phase was characterized by women’s writing that protested against male standards and values, and advocated women’s rights and values, including a demand for autonomy.
  3. The Female phase (1920— ) is one of self-discovery. Showalter says, “women reject both imitation and protest—two forms of dependency—and turn instead to female experience as the source of an autonomous art, extending the feminist analysis of culture to the forms and techniques of literature”. Significantly, Showalter does not offer a characteristic sign or figure for the Female phase, suggesting a welcome diversity of experience that is too broad to be encompassed in a single image.
Rejecting both imitation and protest, Showalter advocates approaching feminist criticism from a cultural perspective in the current Female phase, rather than from perspectives that traditionally come from an androcentric perspective like psychoanalytic and biological theories, for example. Feminists in the past have worked within these traditions by revising and criticizing female representations, or lack thereof, in the male traditions (that is, in the Feminine and Feminist phases). In her essay Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness (1981), Showalter says, "A cultural theory acknowledges that there are important differences between women as writers: class, race nationality, and history are literary determinants as significant as gender. Nonetheless, women’s culture forms a collective experience within the cultural whole, an experience that binds women writers to each other over time and space".
Conclusion: On the whole, we may conclude that her views on feminist poetics are intelligent, largely devoid of rhetorical extremities, and confidently provocative. Showalter speaks with calmly convincing authority, as one who firmly believes in the verity of what she’s saying. She is both earnest, in that she sees change needing to occur immediately, and patient, in that she expects that, given time enough, the wisdom and truth of her cause will prevail.

Additional Resources:

An extraordinary criticism of the dangers of trying to talk for those who have no voice in society. Why? Because it is extremely hard to truly understand what you have only heard about, and not experienced. Watch Macat’s short video for a great introduction to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”—one of the most important essays in the field of postcolonial studies ever written.


  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.
  • Eagleton, Mary, editor. Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader.
  • Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination.
  • Leitch, Vincent B., editor. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.
  • Showalter, Elaine. ‘Toward a Feminist Poetics’. The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory. Ed. Elaine Showalter. London: Virago, 1986. 125- 143
  • Showalter, Elaine. A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing.
  • Showalter, Elaine. “Toward a Feminist Poetics,” was originally published in Mary Jacobus's anthology Women Writing and Writing about Women (1979)
  •  Thompson, Zoë Brigley. The Midnight Heart. 'Toward a Feminist Poetics' by Elaine Showalter. <<>
  • Tolan, Fiona. Feminisms. An Oxford Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Patricia Waugh. OUP. 2006.
  • Wikipedia contributors. "Elaine Showalter." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Dec. 2022.
  • Witalec, Janet. Ed. Introduction" Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 169. Gale Cengage 2003 27 Dec, 2022

Thursday 26 December 2013

Cleanth Brooks: The Language of Paradox (The Well Wrought Urn)

This is compiled from various web and book resources

Cleanth Brooks’s concept of Paradox and Irony and their importance in poetry as discussed in his essay “The Language of Paradox” in The Well Wrought Urn (1947).

“The language of poetry is the language of paradox” Elucidate with reference to Cleanth Brooks’s essay The Language of Paradox.

In literature, the paradox is a literary device consisting of the anomalous juxtaposition of incongruous ideas for the sake of striking exposition or unexpected insight. It functions as a method of literary composition - and analysis - which involves examining apparently contradictory statements and drawing conclusions either to reconcile them or to explain their presence.
Cleanth Brooks, an active member of the New Critical movement, outlines the use of reading poems through paradox as a method of critical interpretation. Paradox in poetry means that tension at the surface of a verse can lead to apparent contradictions and hypocrisies. His seminal essay, "The Language of Paradox," lays out Brooks' argument for the centrality of paradox by demonstrating that paradox is “the language appropriate and inevitable to poetry." The argument is based on the contention that referential language is too vague for the specific message a poet expresses; he must “make up his language as he goes." This, Brooks argues, is because words are mutable and meaning shifts when words are placed in relation to one another.
In this essay ("The Language of Paradox,"), Cleanth Brooks emphasizes how the language of poetry is different from that of the sciences, claiming that he is interested in our seeing that the paradoxes spring from the very nature of the poet's language: “it is a language in which the connotations play as great a part as the denotations. And I do not mean that the connotations are important as supplying some sort of frill or trimming, something external to the real matter in hand. I mean that the poet does not use a notation at all--as a scientist may properly be said to do so. The poet, within limits, has to make up his language as he goes.”
In this passage, Brooks stresses that poetic language is inherently different from scientific language because the poet constructs his language as he goes and defines his own rules. The poet, then, has control over language, and must take an active role in the shaping of what literature means. The poet, then, is not limited to the denotations of words, but, instead,  revel in the possible connotations of words. The individual poet is given a great deal of power, then, in the process of knowledge making and the reader is isolated from the production of meaning.
In the writing of poems, paradox is used as a method by which unlikely comparisons can be drawn and meaning can be extracted from poems both straightforward and enigmatic.
Brooks points to William Wordsworth's poem “It is a beauteous evening, calm and free.” He begins by outlining the initial and surface conflict, which is that the speaker is filled with worship, while his female companion does not seem to be. The paradox, discovered by the poem’s end, is that the girl is more full of worship than the speaker precisely because she is always consumed with sympathy for nature and not - as is the speaker - in tune with nature while immersed in it.
In his reading of Wordsworth's poem, “Composed upon Westminster Bridge,” Brooks contends that the poem offers paradox not in its details, but in the situation which the speaker creates. Though London is a man-made marvel, and in many respects in opposition to nature, the speaker does not view London as a mechanical and artificial landscape but as a landscape comprised entirely of nature. Since London was created by man, and man is a part of nature, London is thus too a part of nature. It is this reason that gives the speaker the opportunity to remark upon the beauty of London as he would a natural phenomenon, and, as Brooks points out, can call the houses “sleeping” rather than “dead,” because they too are vivified with the natural spark of life, granted to them by the men that built them.
Brooks ends his essay with a reading of John Donne’s poem "The Canonization," which uses a paradox as its underlying metaphor. Using a charged religious term to describe the speaker’s physical love as saintly, Donne effectively argues that in rejecting the material world and withdrawing to a world of each other, the two lovers are appropriate candidates for canonization. This seems to parody both love and religion, but in fact it combines them, pairing unlikely circumstances and demonstrating their resulting complex meaning. Brooks points also to secondary paradoxes in the poem: the simultaneous duality and singleness of love, and the double and contradictory meanings of “die” in Metaphysical poetry (used here as both sexual union and literal death). He contends that these several meanings are impossible to convey at the right depth and emotion in any language but that of paradox. A similar paradox is used in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” when Juliet says “For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch and palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss.”
Brooks' contemporaries in the sciences were, in the 40's and 50's, reorganizing university science curricula into codified disciplines. The study of English, however, remained less defined and it became a goal of the New Critical movement to justify literature in an age of science by separating the work from its author and reader, and by examining it as a self-sufficient artifact. In Brooks’s use of the paradox as a tool for analysis, however, he develops a logical case as a literary technique with strong emotional affect. His reading of “The Canonization” in “The Language of Paradox,” where paradox becomes central to expressing complicated ideas of sacred and secular love, provides an example of this development.


Although paradox and irony as New Critical tools for reading poetry are often conflated, they are independent poetical devices. Irony for Brooks is “the obvious warping of a statement by the context” whereas paradox is later glossed as “a special kind of qualification which involves the resolution of opposites.”
Irony functions as a presence in the text – the overriding context of the surrounding words that make up the poem. Only sentences such as 2 + 2 = 4 are free from irony; most other statements are prey to their immediate context and are altered by it (take, as an example, the following joke. "A woman walks into a bar and asks for a double entendre. The bartender gives it to her." This last statement, perfectly acceptable elsewhere, is transformed by its context in the joke to an innuendo) take their effect from it. Irony is the key to validating the poem because a test of any statement grows from the context – validating a statement demands examining the statement in the context of the poem and determining whether it is appropriate to that context.
Paradox, however, is essential to the structure and being of the poem. In The Language of Paradox (The Well Wrought Urn) Brooks shows that paradox was so essential to poetic meaning that paradox was almost identical to poetry. According to fellow New Critic Leroy Searle, Brooks’ use of paradox emphasized the indeterminate lines between form and content. “The form of the poem uniquely embodies its meaning” and the language of the poem “effects the reconciliation of opposites or contraries.” While irony functions within the poem, paradox often refers to the meaning and structure of the poem and is thus inclusive of irony. This existence of opposites or contraries and the reconciliation thereof is poetry and the meaning of the poem.


R.S. Crane, in his essay "The Critical Monism of Cleanth Brooks," argues strongly against Brooks’ centrality of paradox. For one, Brooks believes that the very structure of poetry is paradox, and ignores the other subtleties of imagination and power that poets bring to their poems. Brooks simply believed that “’imagination’ reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities.” Brooks, in leaning on the crutch of paradox, only discusses the truth which poetry can reveal, and speaks nothing about the pleasure it can give. Also, by defining poetry as uniquely having a structure of paradox, Brooks ignores the power of paradox in everyday conversation and discourse, including scientific discourse, which Brooks claimed was opposed to poetry. Crane claims that, using Brooks’ definition of poetry, the most powerful paradoxical poem in modern history is Einstein’s formula E = mc2, which is a profound paradox in that matter and energy are the same thing. The argument for the centrality of paradox (and irony) becomes a reductio ad absurdum and is therefore void (or at least ineffective) for literary analysis.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Woksheet: Screening Movie Adaptation of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" - by Kenneth Branagh

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a 1994 American horror film directed and acted by Kenneth Branagh (as Victor Frankesntein) and starring Robert De Niro (as the Creature). The movie is considered to be the most faithful film adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus published in 1818.
The film begins with the narration in the voice of Mary Shelley: 
"I busied myself to think of a story which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror; one to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart."

~ Prepared by Heenaba Zala, visitng faculty, Dept. of English, M.K. Bhavnagar Univeristy, Bhavnagar, Gujarat - India ~
Pre-viewing tasks:
  • ·        What is gothic scientific fiction?
  • ·        What is a frame narrative?
  • ·        What is the point of view of the author?
  • ·        What are the viewpoints of different characters?
  • ·        Do you have confusion about the title of the novel?
  • ·        Who do you think is the real monster, the Creator or the Creature?
  • ·        What is tabula rasa?
  • ·        What is the significance of the subtitle "The Modern Prometheus"?
  • ·        Do you think Mary Shelley's Frankenstein stands on the brick of revolutionary changes?

While viewing task:
  • ·        How is the beginning and the end of the movie?
  • ·        Do you feel the effect of horror in the movie?
  • ·        What do you think about the character of the monster in the movie?
  • ·        What do you think about the conversation between Victor and the monster?
  • ·        Do you think that some scenes are omitted or replaced by other scene? How is the effect of these changes?
  • ·        Do you think the director has used appropriate symbols in the movie?

Post-viewing tasks:
  • ·        What is the difference between the movie and the novel?
  • ·        Does the movie help you to understand narrative structure of the novel?
  • ·        Do you think the movie is helpful to understand the viewpoints of different characters?
  • ·        What do you think about the creation of lady monster in the novel and Elizabeth's look of a monster in the movie?
  • ·        Think about Victor's acceptance of Elizabeth and rejection of the monster.
  • Do you think the director is faithful to the novel?

All Students shall post thier responses to the post-viewing task as comment under the posting on Google Plus community of our Department.

The Cover Page of the Novel pub in 1818

Film Poster

Film Poster
Read A Film Review by James Berardinelli
Read an article on the Novel and the Movie
Examination of the Novel and the Film
Read Kenneth Branagh's Interview

Monday 16 December 2013

Twitter: Chirp you way to Sweet Tweets

'One Hundred and Forty Characters in Seach of a Tweeter' can be an interesting retelling of Luigi Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore (Six Characters In Search of an Author). 
'Handle' (@), 'hashtag' (#), 'Retweet' (RT), 'Real Life Retweet' (RLRT) and 'Follow' (follower/following) are the Pandavas of this tweetekshetra. Curious to learn names of Kauravas? Click here.
Wanna play a role in this play? Here are some interesting tips to get ready for the twitheatre:

Sunday 15 December 2013

How to Make Effective Presentation with Power in the Points and Story on the Slides?

Les us break up the in/famous phrase 'power-point-presentation' to make it effective:

  • Power should not be hegemonic to the presenter - but should centre around the audience

  • Points should not prick - but should tickle the viewers to edutain

  • Presentation shoud not be resentful - but should have recent (of late, fresh, current, topical, hot, modern, up to date, latest, contemporary) examples, images and illustrations.
  • The following presentaion justifies this breakup. I would rate this presentation tips as one of the best I have come across in recent past.
    Enjoy reading and putting it into practice!

    Tuesday 3 December 2013

    Teaching Writing Skills to Engineering Students: Panel Discussion via Google Hangout

    This presentation was a part of online participation via Google Hangout in the panel discussion on 'Teaching Writing Skills to Engineering Students. It was organised by Samvad Faculty forum of Dept. of Communication Skills, Marwadi Education Foundation's Group of Institutions, Rajkot (Gujarat - India).
    It was wonderful learning experience. Unfortunately, we were not able to 'Hangout on Air', instead joined by personal video call and so we missed auto-recording of the entire presentation. Had that been done, it would have supported us with ample learning lessons.
    The organising institue has recorded entire session with the help of external camera. As soon as it is uploaded on YouTube, it will be embedded on this blog.

    Sunday 1 December 2013

    Presentations on Research Methodology: Introduction to Research Methodology, Literature Review and Plagiarism

    Presentations on Research Methodology:
    Introduction to Research Methodology, Literature Review and Plagiarism

    Research Methodology in Humanities, especially, in English literary studies is important to the aspirants of M.Phil, Ph.D. or to the research scholars/teachers who wish to apply for minor or major research projects to UGC or similar funding agencies.

    Some important points to be kept in mind while preparing research proposal for Ph.D. / M.Phil in language and literature are:
    • Method and Methodology: Guba, E.G. (1990) in 'The Paradigm Dialogue' has argued that there are three fundamental research questions that structure any research project:
      1. What is there that can be known – what is knowable?
      2. What is the relation of the knower to the known?
      3. How do we find things out? 
       Ann Gray in 'Research Practice for Cultural Studies' (2003 - Sage Publication) elaborates these questions:
      • What is there that can be known - what is knowable?
      This is an ontological question, it refers to the aspect of social reality to be studied, but it also deals with assumptions we are willing to make about the nature of reality. It requires you to take a position in relation to your project and to define your ‘knowable space’. How you construct your knowable space and how you go about exploring and investigating that knowable space will depend upon your theoretical approach to the social world and the actors
      or texts involved.
      • What is the relation of the knower to the known?                                                      This is an epistemological question and, put simply, asks how we know what we know. The assumptions that are made about this depend on how we perceive of the reality, and, although Guba does not suggest this, how we are located as subjects within our research. What we bring to our work, how our own knowledge and experience is brought to bear on the research itself will certainly shape it. This is not a question of being ‘subjective’, nor to suggest that we can only view aspects of the world from our own perspective. Rather,  it is to acknowledge what we ourselves bring to our research in terms of our lived experience, certainly, but also our politics and our intellectual frameworks. It is important to make these explicit. The point about who we are and how we relate to the project itself is a key issue for researchers and, again, has informed many debates about research practice and the politics of knowledge generation.
      • How do we find things out?
        This is methodological questions. What kind of methods must I employ in order to know, or to put me in a position of being able to interpret and analyse this aspect of the social world? This, then, is where you can begin to think about the kinds of data you need and how to gather it in order to begin to explore your research questions
    • Theoretical framework: A researcher stands on the shoulders of previous researchers. The scholars who have worked and given general theories in the area of research should be taken as frame within which new work is explored. The aim of this new work should be to support, refute or go for new theories. This should be clearly defined in the research proposal.
    • Review of related literature: This makes for the foundation - the stepping stones - for new research. One should have birds-eye-view of the work done in the area of research which is to be explored. After understanding the work done, the research scholar should think of taking a step further in new direction in the research under consideration. The roadmap of this new direction should be chalked out in research proposal. (While doing an online open course (MOOC) on Coursera - offered by University of London, i came across these articles on Literature Review. All three of them are worth reading: 
    • Hypothesis: This makes for the research questions > the problem which is to be solved. If there is no problem, there is no need to solve it and hence no need to do research. So, first of all identify problem. Ask questions, doubt and apply deconstructionist approach to raise questions. The hypothesis will emerge from this exercise. Write hypothesis in clear statements.
    • Objectivity Most of us tend to select topic of research not because there is a problem which requires urgent solution but because we are personally, emotionally attached to it. The very first and foremost thing to keep in mind is 'depersonalization'. It is advised to read T.S. Eliot's Tradition and Individual Talent - Part II on poetic process > "It is not an expression of emotion and feelings but an escape from it."One should practice 'detachment' to be a good researcher. Like an umpire in the cricket match, totally engrossed and right at the centre of the match, yet aloof, detached - completely away from the emotions and feelings that drive players and audience.So, the researcher is engrossed, submerged in the research, yet can detach him/herself to critical evaluate his/her own position. It is observed that most of the research scholars fail to achieve this position and so are not able to raise proper questions > they remain emotionally attached and are, thus, blinded to empirical evidences necessary to make statements in thesis/dissertaion.
    • Plan of research (Chapterization): Normally, there are five chapters in thesis/dissertation:
      • Chapter 1: Introduction: It should include, theoretical framework, concept clarification, aims, objectives, hypotheses, research questions and introduction to writers, key terms etc.
      • Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature: All that can be reviewed i.e. theories to be applied, conceptual notes, similar research theses/dissertations, journal articles, books etc should be mentioned with annotated bibliographic record in this chapter. Remember, this is the foundation / stepping stones on which you have to stand or walk your path towards the climax in your thesis/dissertation. The more sound work is done here, you will find the it easy to write chapter 3 and 4.
      • Chapter 3 and 4: These are core chapters in thesis/dissertation. The research questions, hypothesis, analysis of literary texts, analysis of elt experiments etc are thoroughly discussed in these two chapters.
      • Chapter 5: Conclusion: In the entire thesis/dissertation, if there is any space where research scholar is free to write his/her views, it is this chapter. Do not cite any thing. Do not use in-text citation. This space is all yours. You are free to give your interpretations and make the most of it. What ever you have reviewed in chapter 2, whatever you have analyses in chapter 3 and 4, now its time to connect dots - join the arguments - and bring your story to a beautiful end.   

    In this video, you will find basics of literature review and about 'ontological' and 'epistemological' approaches to research question:

    This presentation gives an outline of model syllabus for such courses. It also presents some views of Richard Altick and John Fenstermaker from 'The Art of Literary Research'.

    Literature Review or Review of Related Literature is one of the most vital stages in any research. This presentation attempts to throw some light on the process and important aspects of literature review.