Today I am beginning a new phase in my life, I have stated an online course with Futurelearn, the subject being "Developing your Research Project" I wish I had used this last year during my degree course as it has already proved useful.
They suggest keeping an online journal in order to record your steps in the research process. This is something I enjoyed when I was working on my degree, so I am glad to have a good reason to continue with it.
The first and most difficult problem is to choose your research topic and formulate it into a suitable hypothesis.
I am still interested in using the woodcuts from Pepys' Cries of London collection. The only thing which intimidates me is that other people on the course seem to have very detailed scientific projects and I suspect this is what made me try and expand my research topic in order to make it "worthy".
All a little pointless since it only matters to me anyway.
At present I have narrowed my topic down to :-
Subject - Early Modern History
Theme - Change in status of Itinerant Traders
Context - 1590 – 1690's
Topic - London Cries and their portrayal of Itinerant traders
1. Can the costumes depicted in the woodcuts/engraving be used to show a change in status during this period?
2. Is there a change in gender roles within the images/documentation?
3. Do statutes exist which verify the notion of a change in status?
4. Is there evidence to show that the way goods are manufactured and sold in this period changes?
Hypothesis - Does the perception of the role and status of itinerant traders in London as portrayed in the sets of London Cries change during this period, and is this due to a change in trading and shopping habits among the middle classes?
But have already had feedback that my hypothesis is too muddled. Alasdair has suggested that the shopping habits and middle classes are two very big areas of research on their own and that I should just stick to the Cries themselves. I am not sure that there is enough scope in the hypothesis if I remove that though?
Hypothesis - Does the perception of the role and status of itinerant traders in London as portrayed in the sets of London Cries change during this period?
Hypothesis : Is there evidence that the role and status of itinerant London traders underwent a change during this period?
or possibly better still
Does analysis of the images of itinerant London traders depicted in the woodcuts and engravings of the London Cries indicate a change in social standing?
I like my last hypothesis because if I can show that it does indicate a change then I can look for other evidence.
My next step will be to collect all the known images to gather and start to compare them.
Also I need to read the journal article on The Royal Society and their interest in the education of tradespeople.