Research Methods

My main method of research will be engaging with the texts – that is, the episodes I will be watching. I plan to watch these episodes several times, first to get familiar with the story lines, characters, and recurring jokes. I am already very familiar with these things, but it is important to refresh my familiarity, particular when it comes to the specific brands of comedy employed in each program. After engaging with these texts in an informal way, I will begin to collect data. I plan to code these episodes – my criteria, however, remains undecided. I could code instances of sexual harassment, identifying different actions such as sexual jokes, glances, and comments. I can also code leadership behaviors, perhaps through the lens of “masculine” vs. “feminine” leadership traits and behaviors. Once I have this data, I can start to hypothesize about the relationship between female leadership and the occurrence of/response to sexual harassment onscreen.

I can manipulate this data in any number of ways in order to understand the relationship between female leadership and sexual harassment onscreen. We spoke about creating a timeline of events and themes that occurred on the shows, and how those events correspond to real-world events and trends. Relating the ideas I present in my thesis to the “real world” is a crucial part of my research.

I will also look at secondary sources. In order to write about something in the field of cultural studies, I will need to be familiar with the literature that already exists. I can consult reference books, encyclopedias, and books that detail the history of comedy, of female leadership, of women in the media, of American television, etc. I will also consult news sources to examine the newsworthy events in American culture that may have shaped the way certain things were portrayed onscreen. I can also look at journal articles that have been written about the shows I’m interested in. Not only will these help with brainstorming and coming up with ideas for the content of my paper, but they will help me get acquainted with how scholarly articles are written in this field. Since the majority of the papers I write at UR are for English classes, I am accustomed to writing in that specific way.

Although I intend to use theoretical sources in my research, most of my time will be spent close reading “passages” that I find particularly relevant to my thesis. I will analyze the content of the scenes – what is said, what actions are done – as well as how different setting, lighting, staging, and blocking choices convey certain messages.