On the 24/10/2019, myself and around 15 other OCA students who were either about to or had embarked on the final part of their studies, attended a study presentation led by Dr. Ariadne Xenou to help us understand how to tackle Body of Work and Contextual Studies simultaneously and appropriately.
Ariadne talked of a ‘high-powered microscope’ analogy to study in-depth smaller details making up a ‘grand narrative’. I found this extremely useful as before I had either generalised too much, concentrating on the grander narratives or got caught up in small details without looking for a bigger picture. By looking for ‘relevant details’ that linked the details or ‘microhistories’ to the grand narrative, I would be able to develop a coherent argument for my project.
Ariadne then went on to point out choosing a subject that interests you is crucial. It is important to be interested in your subject to keep you motivated throughout your project. She asked questions like ‘Why does it interest me?’ so it is possible to break down the subject and explain what constitutes the grander narrative for the specific subject. I felt I was definitely interested in my subject of regeneration in the area of Deptford, although perhaps I could make the subject even more specific. I started envisaging the grander narrative for my project was change in general, rather than just regeneration as I had previously thought.
The next thing Ariadne gave us to think about was how we addressed our ‘problem’. She said to think about it as a riddle that has to be addressed methodologically – made up of the problem, the subject and the solution.
The problem: For me the problem is regeneration in Deptford. By thinking about regeneration in Deptford in its wider context and complexity (change in general), I would be identifying the grander narrative. I am aware I need more details than ‘regeneration in Deptford’ in order to ‘make a statement which is relevant to a wider issue’. Therefore my more in-depth detail might be: ‘how does the old and new Deptford interact and do these more global shifts (regeneration) affect everyday change?’
The subject: Identifying key aspects and terms of change in general is something I need to do in order to establish it as my grand narrative.
The solution: Working methodologically once I’ve established the problem and the subject will allow me to reach a solution.
We then covered writing a research proposal; a topic which I feel is extremely timely to discuss. This is because soon I will have finished my literature review and will be required to come up with a question for Contextual Studies framing my extended essay. Again, Ariadne broke down the research proposal into parts. Things I picked up on were firstly to acquire lots of primary sources so you are able to pinpoint your question. Use these sources to find a plausible answer to your problem, then subsequently fine-tune the plausible answers. If this goes well you can make a claim.
I did have a specific question for Ariadne that developed as I was hearing her presentation concerning research for a proposal to frame the extended essay or project around. The question was: ‘Say I have two avenues of my research but they don’t connect, what course of action should I take?’ The reason I was asking this was I was aware that there seemed to be two divergent strands of my research. This consisted of the layering of the old and new in juxtaposition within the image. This was as well as the composite technique where people appearing in the image who were not there at the same time took prominence in the image. Ariadne’s answer to my general question made sense and seemed promising. She said: ‘Research both strands and analyse both for a bit and look for a connection. If you see a connection between two things, that’s good, if not it’s slightly more problematic. Often just by researching you will find connections and new answers you never thought were there’.
These suggestions from Ariadne applied to concerns I had for my literature review, concerns I posted about here. Since raising this question in the presentation and discussing it with my tutor for Contextual Studies, my progress for the literature review has picked up. I now feel I have a clear plan.
Overall I found this study hangout very useful and productive. I will try to employ a more thorough, methodological approach to my studies as I could see it working well going forwards.