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Shepherds Purse: Methodology

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The first section of this article is concerned with how I came to research the topic, and how I went about it. In addition to talking about this specific project, I'm going to talk about some general approaches that can be taken when researching medieval material culture in general, but will be especially applicable to topics being researched primarily via artistic depictions. Of course, there isn't a single correct method of doing this sort of research, and the best approach will depend not only on the type of artifact, but on the researcher's background knowledge and the available resources. Some of the approaches I took were strongly shaped by two resources I had easily available: the University of California library system, and the World Wide Web. At the time when this topic first impinged on my interest (back in 1981), I had neither of these available, and if I had attempted to pursue the topic at that time, I would have done it rather differently, and probably not as well.

A General Methodology for Researching Medieval Artifacts in Art

Here is a general outline of how I approached this project (with some additions that may apply better to other types of artifacts). In following pages, I'll discuss in detail how this approach played out in the current case.

I. Initial Stimulus

II. Expanding the Search

III. Focusing the Search and Exploring the Limits

IV. Questioning the Results

V. Experimentation

VI. Presentation

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