Muses and Measures: Empirical Research Methods for the Humanities
This is a textbook that has been needed for decades. It should be required reading for every student (and professor) in literary studies and, for that matter, in any humanistic discipline. Humanistic methods of inquiry certainly have their place, but all too often humanistic scholars present entire theories and have no idea how to test them or even realize that they should be tested in a scientific manner. Such scholars can only try to convince readers that they are right. It is absurd to use rhetoric when there are perfectly good empirical methods of testing such theories. If they are not so tested, they are quite likely to lead us astray.
In a very engaging way, the authors almost seduce readers into wanting to learn about empirical methods and statistics. The book is full of suggested projects for students. Students are led through how to search sources such as PsycInfo in order to get ideas and then gradually introduced to basic statistics and shown in detail how to analyze data that they themselves may have gathered. By focusing on practical matters and not bothering much with formulas that will soon be forgotten, readers are given a good intuitive grasp of not just simple statistics but also statistics at an intermediate level.
Willie van Peer holds a Ph.D. from Lancaster University, and is Professor of Literary Studies and Intercultural Hermeneutics at the University of Munich, former President of IGEL (International Association for the Empirical Study of Literature) and of PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association). He is the author of several books and many articles on poetics and the epistemological foundations of literary studies, including Stylistics and Psychology: Investigations of Foregrounding (London, 1986).
Jèmeljan Hakemulder’s (1966) did his MA in literary theory and comparative literature. For his PhD he specialized in the psychology of literature, focusing on the effects of reading literary texts on attitudes. He now trains students in the Humanities in methodological aspects of research, especially experimentation.
Sonia Zyngier is Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at the Postgraduate Programme of Applied Linguistics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she has acted as Director of Cultural Affairs and Continuing Education for five years. She was Secretary of PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) and is co-editor of the IGEL Newsletter. She has an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Liverpool and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. Much of her work has been on stylistics and the teaching of literature to EFL students. Specific research interests include discourse analysis and pedagogical stylistics. She has published widely on literary awareness, stylistics, and corpus analysis of literary discourse. She has developed a programme of research in the area of the Empirical Science of Literature and its implications for literary education. Her latest publication is Literature and Stylistics for Language Learners, co-edited with Greg Watson and published by Palgrave-Macmillan.
The three researchers have set up the REDES Project, an international and multicultural programme aiming at training young researchers (www.redes.de/portal and www.letras.ufrj.br/redes
"Here is a lucidly clear, fact-rich guide to empirical research in the traditional humanities. Given the shortage of methodological considerations in humanistic study, this is just what we need. It is not only students who will learn from this book, but scholars at all levels. [...] Muses and Measures points to exciting new directions for disciplines involved in culture and aesthetics. It is a brilliant book."
- Denis Dutton, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
"Sometimes one book is enough to change the whole way of thinking or general attitude of students, and this is the case with Muses and Measures. [...] It is a practice-orientated book to help students and tutors either to get acquainted with methodology that is still new to them and will definately enrich their research methods or deepen their knowledge and develop skills in the field. [...] The book is clear and reader friendly. It invites students to enjoy research, using a conventional tone. [...] The volume is truly absorbing: as you start reading, you cannot put the book aside. [...] The book is an excellent reference source as it carefully guides students through all stages of research, leaving them independent where their own efforts are needed and offering some assistance where they do need support and guidance."
- Anna Chesnokova, Kyiv National Linguistic University, Ukraine, Journal of Aesthetic Education, 44:4 (Winter 2010).
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