Sunday, October 11, 2009

Question from Kate - Ideas for dissertation on Anne Boleyn

Hi, I'm in my second year at university and have to start thinking about my dissertation for next year already. I'm not usually very organised but I really want to get a head start where I can. I would like to do something about Anne Boleyn, although what exactly I don't know. Maybe something about her role within 16th century England and her influence upon Henry VIII. I find her absolutely fascinating and know I will be able to keep up my interest in her throughout the next two years. I was just wondering if anyone could perhaps point me in the right directions regarding to reading, where to find appropriate information, places to visit etc? Any ideas on a more precise question? I really would appreciate any help I could get, and have found this site very useful already!
If you'd prefer to message me that's fine :)
Many thanks, Kate.


kb said...

Hi Kate,

Well there is a lot of material to work from and many different directions to take. Currently the definitive text is by Eric Ives. This will be a 'must read' for you and should be in your bibliography. Also on the 'must-read' list would be Barbara Harris's work on 'English Aristocratic Women'.

You should probably try to visit Hever (I am assuming you are in the UK). There is an Anne Boleyn tour taking place this coming spring Anne Boleyn junkies. See:

You might want to poke around on that site for other ideas of places to visit.

A possible topic could be Anne Boleyn's role in the English Reformation. If this interests you, see G.W.Bernard's work on 'The King's Reformation'.

Another possibility might fall under the 'history of sex' studies umbrella - how the heck did she manage to keep that man fascinated for so many years....

If you are interested in family structures and politics you could look at the role of the Boleyn family before and after her rise. At which point, you will need to look at Cressy's work on the family. [If that interests you, let me know and I'll give you the link to my doctoral thesis on Tudor dynastic politics]

Let us know how you get on and best of luck. Very impressive you are planning so far ahead.

Mary-Anne said...

Hi: I have previously worked on a similar project. My question ended up being based around the influence that Anne Boleyn had on the reformation of England.

Hope this helps!

katec11 said...

Thank you both. kb you have been very helpful. The Boleyn family structure and politics sounds very interesting.
I've just started reading Ives, so hopefully that will help :)
Would Anne Boleyn's role in the English Reformation tie in well with her influential role on Henry VIII or would that be too much? I suppose really you couldn't look at one without the other. Would it be better to focus on one broader question or a more specific, detailed question? I'm kind of thinking out loud here..

I do plan to visit Hever soon, is Hampton Court worth a visit as well?

Sorry to ask so many questions!
Thanks, Kate

kb said...

Thinking out loud is good.

re: The Reformation and Anne's influence with the king - these 2 are intimately related. There's also Anne's patronage of reformation ministers and her connection with Cromwell. Lots to work with. Ives will help.

Your question will change as you read more. Start broad - then as you work through the reading your question will naturally start to narrow. Don't lock yourself in too early. You want to remain open to new information you may find during the course of your research.

Take a look at Ives 's bibliography for more direction on what to read next.

The Rose Crowned said...

Sounds a very good choice of historical character you have picked to do research on.As Anne Boleyn is one of my favourite characters if not my most favourite character from the Tudor ear and throughout history.I would suggest reading Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives.Joanna Dennys Anne Boleyn,though Ives's book on her is thorough.It is more thoroughly researched.You could try reading books on King Henry VIII and his six wives to find out about Anne Boleyn.As for places to visit.Hever castle would be a good choice as she was brought up and looked after with the rest of her siblings here.Then I would suggest Hampton court palace.I think an essay on how Anne influenced Henry and managed to shape and help further the reformation sounds good.Perhaps you could add the Church of England in there aswell as the church of England was created thus so he could marry Anne and rid of himself of the current queeen catherine of Aragon.I feel that this would be a crucial part to add.Plus the other people that lead an important life during Anne Boleyns life plus helped with the reformation process,like Thomas Cromwell,William Tyndale and Thomas Cranmer.Plus not forgetting the man who started lutheranism,Martin Luther,John calvin and John Knox.

katec11 said...

Thank you again for your comments. I'm finding it all really useful. Any idea where I could perhaps find some primary sources for this topic as they are essential and I don't really know where to begin?!

kb said...

Start with the bibliography in the back of Ives's book. He lists several primary sources.

As an undergraduate at a UK uni (I presume?), you should have access to several printed primary sources in your uni library.

First step is to find the research librarian on staff who is responsible for history/humanities. S/he will be able to guide you to what's available on the shelves.

Your library might have "Letters and Papers of Henry VIII" which is a multi-volume printing of state papers from the reign. You could start there.

Also, your uni may have access to digital collections of primary sources. The research librarian will know.

Unknown said...

Hampton Court is most definitely worth a visit (check their website as they often do events with certain queens, inc. Anne). The building of the Great Hall was hugely influenced by Anne.
I always think it's interesting to look at how these women used their role as patroness to heavily influence the world around them. We modern women have more opportunities to directly change things. It might be interesting to have to look at a world where the women had to be quite crafty, using what money and power they had with men to make the changes they wanted to make, rather than just doing it directly.

I think i may have a few articles on this for research I've done so if you decide to go down that route of queen as patron, let lara know and I can send my email address through.Good luck!