Sunday, April 10, 2005

Working Towards a Proposal for my Research topic: 2

Working Towards a Proposal for your Research topic:

1. The most important terms / concept words that I expect to define, or at least to depend on in the development of my research are myth /mythology and ideology. But myth will come first, and ideology will come much later. Actually, I want to try and totally forget about ideology in an effort to better understand it through an investigation of the relationship between language and mythology in Tolkien’s works. I want to be clear on this strategy for understanding ideology; I am going to try and forget about it! I will intentionally avoid the use of this term (though perhaps not the concept, as it may arise under a different name) in my research on Tolkien’s purported production of mythology through his invention of Elvish languages, but precisely in order to understand it better later, perhaps in a master’s thesis. But by the time I finish this research paper, I might not care about ideology anymore, and that would be ok. So to revise my answer accordingly, the terms I expect to define are myth and mythology, and it might be a good idea to discriminate between myth and mythology. I expect to discuss different theories of myth / mythology in order to better understand a theory of mythology which depends upon its relationship to language.

2. Tolkien created languages, Elvish in particular, but also other languages for other beings in his Middle-earth. As a philologist, he was an expert in how languages change over time, because, for example, he had traced the development of Anglo-Saxon and Gothic forms into modern English. Tolkien’s assertion was that the stories he wrote grew out of the languages he invented. Scholars who claim that Tolkien created a mythology stress this aspect of his creative process in their theories of myth. So this is a curious link between language and mythology, and it’s this connection that I want to learn more about. Because my previous studies of ideology suggest a similar link between language and the production of meaning. I hope that learning more about Tolkien’s contribution to the scholarship on the relationship between language and mythology will help me to explain a similar theory for understanding ideology. But again, I want to stress that I only expect to join in a separate discussion about ideology after I have completely investigated the theory of mythology held by Tolkien scholars who claim he created it in his literary works set in Middle-earth through his invention of languages.

The basic question I will try to answer through my research is something like, “how is language related to mythology?” A more focused version would be, “how does a particular mythology relate to the language of the culture in which it emerges?” Actually, that pre-supposes a role for culture, and I don’t want to do that if it doesn’t have anything to do with Tolkien’s demonstration of the relation between language and myth. So maybe it is better to focus it another way, like, “how is the relationship between language and mythology demonstrated in Tolkien’s work?” Maybe it’s better to formulate the basic question as, “what is the relationship between language and mythology demonstrated in Tolkien’s work?” I’ve already formulated the line of questioning that grounds this inquiry in Tolkien’s work. I’ll put it in the final version of the proposal. I don’t have the Craft text.

3. Many scholars have addressed theories of myth, and several Tolkien scholars have espoused a theory of myth which is consistent with the claim that he created mythology through his invention of languages. My research will seek to test the validity of this claim by investigating conflicting theories of myth. It may be that I will find in my research that this issue has been entirely resolved in such a way as to make any further inquiry into the theory of mythology that agrees with the claim that Tolkien created one through his invention of languages utterly unnecessary, or perhaps even absurd. As I read the critical works of my mentors in Tolkien scholarship, I am frequently abashed as my own ignorance becomes more apparent. Titles of articles, such as Joseph Campbell and Tolkien, blah, blah, blah, which I have seen in different bibliographies, for example, make me think that this issue of qualifying what we mean by myth when we talk about Tolkien’s mythology has been addressed. But I am not sure, as of yet. And I’ll have a list of such articles to look through before too long. I’ve got a line of questioning that qualifies the relevance of this inquiry. And I’ll put it in my proposal. But probably the most honest answer to this question lies in the fact that my perspective is uninformed on this issue. I just haven’t looked at this issue carefully enough in the reading that I have done, but it seems important to me whenever I come across this notion in reading Tolkien criticism. Maybe it reminds me of something I thought about ideology, but I’m sure it’s worthy of being investigated as an end in itself.

What is it about the reliability of scholarly resources in Craft (pp. 75-78)?

All right, I’ll identify a documented essay that comes close to showing the approach I want to use. What is it about Mann’s and Harner’s lists …? Check the specialized encyclopedia or dictionary for the name of a reputable research-writer? Then I could look up that name and see if they wrote anything that comes close to showing the approach I want to use? Ok, that’s a good idea, but I’ve got a whole slew of them right here. Let’s see…

Well, it’s time to look over a little existing scholarship and add to the bibiliography…


Post a Comment

<< Home