Dr. Laura L. Runge Office: CPR 358N/ 813-974-9469
Spring 2003 email: email@example.com
CPR 344 Wednesday 3-5:50 PM
Feb. 19 Altick, Ch. 2 and appropriate Harner
References: Citation Indexes (inc. MLA Bib, Humanities Abstract, IAC Expanded Academic, YWES, Essay and Gen. Lit. Index, ABELL)
Our readings for today discuss the “spirit” of scholarship, or the skepticism at the root of our work that pushes the scholar toward revelation and accuracy. Altick and Fenstermaker’s chapter should make clear why citation is so important and why knowledge of the edition of a work is essential.
Altick, Chapter 2: The Spirit of Scholarship
The writers emphasize the “spirit of vigilance and skepticism that presides over every good scholar’s desk” (26). What sorts of “misinformation […] lurks in the data we receive from our predecessors”? What are some of the errors a new researcher is likely to make?
Note: “the oftener an error is repeated, furthermore, the more persuasive it becomes, and the more hospitably it extends its protective coloration over the additional mistakes that come to be associated with it” (26).
Altick reinforces the lesson we learned in the first part of class: “one necessary consequence of this advice [from an eighteenth-century review journal] is that researchers must be careful to use only the most dependable text of a literary work or a private or public document” (31).
Little nugget: “It is axiomatic in the profession that no edition of letters published before the 1920s, at the earliest, can be relied upon”(32). Why is this so? What are you to make of these little nuggets of academic truth interspersed throughout the pages of this text? Share, when you find one of particular insight or knowledge.
What manuscript collections does our library or others in the Florida university system house? What might be done with these? Or, put another way, what original research might you be able to contribute based on archival work in these manuscripts?
In part 2, Examining the Evidence, the authors suggest, “so back to the sources it is, then, if scholars wish to erase the mistakes that are all too likely to have occurred in the process of historical transmission” (38). Why so?
The power of the anecdote: we are drawn to stories and to stories with illustrative power. But we need to be wary of the historical relevance of the anecdote. Examine a real or imagined anecdote for evidence. What questions need to be asked? Where can you find answers to these questions? (45)
As a test case for the variability within biographical research, do a sampling of biographical research on a favorite author. You can begin by using the biographical citation index, available through Galenet Resources online. Be sure to examine both standard reference works (DNB, DLB, Allibone) as well as a variety of encyclopedia entries (such as Drabble or Burke and Howe). What turns up when you investigate a number of different sources?
For an example of the mixture of myth and fact that I discovered in researching the Romantic author Mary Robinson, see my biographical summary in course documents on the Blackboard site.
Part three “Two Applications of the Critical Spirit: Fixing Dates and Testing Authenticity” (54 and on) emphasizes the importance of chronology and historical factuality. How can these tools aid the literary researcher?
This week we are evaluating a number of different major citation indexes. These are important references you will use to search for related secondary materials, consequently it is imperative that you learn their individual capacities and limitations, and that you become comfortable searching them. These should be your FIRST STOP in doing general research on your topics.
Humanities Abstracts Online is included in Humanities Full Text through Wilson Web. To learn more about the database, click on “Help” and then click on the tab, “Database Description.” Be sure to follow through “Learn more about this database” in order to fill out your Essential Source data. Look at the list of journals included in the database and try out some known references to see how it works.
Essay and General Literature Index (EGLI) Included in WilsonWeb (like Humanities Full Text). To learn more about the database, click on “Help” and then click on the tab, “Database Description.” Be sure to follow through “Learn more about this database.” Uniquely valuable in locating separate essays or chapters in individual books, primarily in collections and anthologies. Hardbound forerunner at REF/AI3/.E8.
MLA International Bibliography –This electronic database is available in two forms through Gale/Thomson: the Infotrac version and the Literature Resource Center version. Neither is ideal. Explore both for their relative search capacities and compare results. Unfortunately, these sites contain precious little about the resource itself, as though the information provided just appears and satisfies your quest for knowledge, with no need to look further. For crucial information regarding essential source data, see http://www.mla.org/bibliography.
Just to see what you are being spared by having electronic access to this resource, see if you can find the hardbound annual volumes titled MLA International Bibliography, covering the early years (REF/PB/6/.M25). Pre-1956 title: MLA American Bibliography . . . Note by the increasing size of the volumes the evident proliferation of published research between 1921 and 1991 (the last year the bibliography was purchased here in hardbound format.)
Expanded Academic Index ASAP in Gale Group, through Infotrac. For information on the scope and content of the online database, check the link “Title List.”
MHRA Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL)
This database, produced in England, is an essential complement to the US produced MLA Bibliography. (But how does it differ in scope?) ABELL’s full coverage from 1920-1999 is now accessible to us through the LION (LIterature ONline) database, by Chadwyck and Healy. To learn more about the index, check the “Information Centre.” For further information, see the Modern Humanities Research Association website for the database: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/MHRA/ABELL/. Explore under the link for Publications/Journals.
LION is itself a MONSTER database: Spend some time exploring its other principal application: the comprehensive full-text primary author and literature search capabilities. LION’s many different parts and features are constantly being added to. Select a work from one of the databases, print it out and bring it to class to share.
Our sole paper-copy resource this week:
The Year’s Work in English Studies (YWES)
British produced discursive (essay-style) bibliography. This annual evaluative review of important research is divided into essays on specific periods, national literatures (including American) and major authors. It offers a contrast to the type of annotative bibliography required for this class, but it will provide good examples of the type of descriptive and evaluative commentary you should be writing. Examine several recent years in your particular field of interest in order to learn what is considered the most important recent work in your field. The USF Library stopped subscribing to this reference in 2000. It is now available through Oxford University Press Periodicals Online, but it not included in the extensive periodical list we carry. We need to get it back!!!