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ENGL 5033 Graduate Research and Writing (BA): Help/Assignment

Graduate Research Assignment (Malone, Fall 2017)

English 5033:  Graduate Research and Writing

Research Exercises, Round One:  Guide to Research Tools

Assignment #1: Reference Tool Guide

Directions: Students may work in groups of two (or at most three) on this assignment, but you don't have to; it's ok to work individually if you prefer.  

If you work in groups, you may decide to collaborate by discussing your ideas about the project, and then write up your reference tool guides individually; OR, you may decide as a group to write the reference tool guide collaboratively, in which case your group will just submit one guide.

Decide early on how you want to approach this.

This reference tool guide project, the first major project in the course, asks students to become familiar with resources available in NSU libraries.  To that end you will prepare a “guide” for incoming graduate students focusing on some source in the reference section of our libraries.  Your guide will focus on just one reference tool.  I've listed several examples of sources below; you may select one of these, or a different source of your choosing, as long as the reference tool that you select is held in the reference section of the library (either in BA or Tahlequah).  Keep in mind other students may select the same reference tool, and you will have to work out times with others to share access.

There may be reference tools, not listed below, that relate to your research interests, that might help you actually do some of the research you face in this class. You have the option of focusing on one of the sources listed below, or selecting one related to your research interests, as long as you let me know ahead of time what you’ve selected so I can approve it.

The general question your guide should address is:  How can this reference tool help the literary scholar?

Your guide should address purpose and scope of the reference tool, how and when to use it, audience (i.e. a beginning researcher, or someone already familiar with the subject matter, etc.), the types of research questions that the reference tool will help scholars address, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the source relative to other related reference sources.  (This last point will require that you identify related resources, look them over, and compare them to your selected reference tool.) It’s also important to consider whether or not the reference tool has more than one edition, and whether or not our libraries have the most recent. Be sure to discuss specific entries in the reference tool to illustrate your general claims about the source.

I will be looking for how effectively you address your audience as you write up and organize this guide--your audience is you, basically, someone new to the program.  Write the guide in such a way that your audience would find it useful.

Again, you have the option of preparing a guide individually, or you may work in groups and write one guide collaboratively.  In either case, the guide should be in the neighborhood of 1000-1500 words.

Your guide should include a "Works Consulted" or "Works Cited" page, formatted according to MLA Style.  

You may select one of the resources below. (If you choose a different source, one more related to your research interest, let me know what it is so I can approve it ahead of time.)  The questions/comments listed after each source are intended as prompts to get you thinking about the source and to supplement the criteria discussed above.

  1. Reference Guide to American Literature (4th edition, St. James Press):  Identify one other reference tool that addresses a similar research focus.  What does the one source offer that the other doesn’t? 
  2. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature.  How comprehensive is this study?  Who is the audience?  What types of research questions would this reference tool help a scholar address?  Identify two other reference tools that would supplement the Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, and explain how.
  3. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature: How would this reference tool benefit you in a required course for the MA in English program, Literary Theory? Compare and contrast one or more entries in this guide with those that appear in the Gale Collection, Contemporary Literary Criticism.
  4. Southern Writers:  A Biographical Dictionary:  How effectively does this work engage with secondary criticism of the authors included?  Does it include an overview essay/introduction that addresses major trends in the critical discussion of Southern Writers?  How useful is this overview for a beginning researcher? 
  5. Literary History of the United States (Macmillan):  Identify one other reference tool that addresses a similar research focus.  What does the one source offer that the other doesn’t?
  6. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism: How would this reference tool benefit you in a required course for the MA in English program, Literary Theory? Compare and contrast one or more entries in this guide with those that appear in the Gale Collection, Contemporary Literary Criticism.

Research Exercises, Round Two

Assignment #2: Research Exercise

Directions: Each student will be assigned and respond to one question below.  More than one student will be assigned the same question.  Students assigned the same question may collaborate, if they wish, but each student individually will write up his or her own response to the assigned question.

As you access materials needed to answer the question, be mindful of others who also need to access those materials and keep them informed of your research activities through email.  (Students should utilize the "Email" feature in Blackboard.)

Your essay response (approximately 1000 words) should 1) convey your detailed answer to the question(s); and 2) discuss the process by which you found that answer, by referencing the sources you used, your rationale for using those sources rather than others, as well as perhaps how you interpret certain aspects of the question(s).  

  1. Find several articles dealing with the purported use made of sources by Poe, Melville, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Stephen Crane, or Thomas Wolf. After critically reading each article, decide how sound each argument is.  Identify and discuss at least two reference tool(s) listed in Harner’s Literary Research Guide that helped (or would help) to find the articles?
  2. Joseph Conrad:  The Three Lives (1983), by Frederick R. Karl, contains a psychological interpretation of the author’s life and work.  How solid and extensive is the factual evidence upon which the argument rests, and how convincing is the argument itself?
  3. What kind of textual scholarship remained to be performed on Thoreau’s Walden after the publication of the Princeton critical edition of that work in 1971? Was it eventually accomplished?
  4. What bibliographical aids exist for a study of the Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney?
  5. Using more than one source, compile a list of all books and articles published on Ted Hughes in 1990. Why is it necessary to refer to more than one source?
  6. Using several sources, preferably recent ones, summarize William Wordsworth's reputation and influence, beginning with his contemporaries. What common claims are made across sources concerning his influence? 

What is a Literature Review

Or, sometimes called a Survey of the Scholarship.

A literature review is a text written by someone to consider the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. Literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work. Also, a literature review can be interpreted as a review of an abstract accomplishment.

Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such as a thesis or peer-reviewed article, a literature review usually precedes a research proposal and results section. Its main goals are to situate the current study within the body of literature and to provide context for the particular reader. Literature reviews are a staple for research in nearly every academic field.

Reference Materials in the Gale Series

Reference Materials in the Gale Series (compiled from the acronym list in the Contemporary Authors cumulative index)


CA, Contemporary Authors, Ref. PN 451 .C58, v. 1 - v. 262 (TQ), v. 1-v. 206 (BA)
CAR, Contemporary Authors First Revision, Ref. PN451 .C58 1st Rev., v. 1-v. 41/44 (TQ), v.1-v41/44 (BA)
CANR, Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Ref. PN451 .C59, v.1-v.171 (TQ), v. 1-v.251 (BA)
CAP, Contemporary Authors Permanent Series, Ref. PN451 .C582, v.1-v.2 (TQ)
AAYA, Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Ref. PS490 .A98, v.1-v.72 (BA)
BLC, Black Literary Criticism, Ref. PS153 .N5 B556 1992, v.1-v.3 (TQ)
BRW, British Writers, Ref. PR85 .B688, v.1-v.3. (TQ)
BYA, Beacham’s Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Ref. Z1037 .A1 B38 1990, v.1-v.8 (TQ)
CD, Contemporary Dramatists, Ref. PR106.V5, v.3 (TQ), Ref. PR737 .C57 1988, 4th ed (TQ)
CLC, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Ref. PN771 .C59, v.1-v.252 (TQ), v.1-v.200 (BA)
CLR, Children’s Literature Review, Ref. PN1009 .A1 C5139, v.1-v.133 (TQ)
CN, Contemporary Novelists, Ref. PR737 .V5, Ref. PR883 .C64 1986, Ref. PR883 .C64 1991, 5th ed. (TQ)
CP, Contemporary Poets, Ref. PR603 .C63 1975 (3rd ed.), Ref. PR603 .C63 1985 (4th ed.), Ref. PR603 .C6 1991 (5th ed.) (TQ)
CWP, Contemporary Women Poets, Ref. PS151 .C67 1998 (TQ)
CWRI, St. James Guide to Children’s Writers, Ref. PN1009 .A1T9 1999, 5th ed. (TQ)
CWW, Contemporary World Writers, Ref. PN51 .C6235 1993, 2ns ed. (TQ)
DC, Drama Criticism, Ref. PN1721 .C65 v.1-v.2 (TQ), v.1-v.2 (BA)
DFS, Drama for Students, Ref. PN1601 .D595, v.1-v.5 (TQ)
DLB. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Ref. PN451 .D32, v.1-v.337 (TQ)
EWL, Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, Ref. PN774 .L433, v.1-v.4 (TQ), Ref. PN774 .E5 1999, 3rd ed., v.1-v.4 (TQ)
EXPP, Exploring Poetry, PN1031 .R68 1973, 2nd ed. (TQ)
FW, Feminist Writers, Ref. PN451 .A8 F46 1996 (TQ)
IDTP, International Dictionary of Theatre, Ref. PN2035 .I49 1992, v.1-v.3 (TQ)
LAW, Latin American Writers, Ref. PQ7081 .A1 L37 1989, v.1-v.3 (TQ)
MAICYA, Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Ref. PN451 .M37 1993, v.1-v.6 (BA)
MAL, Modern American Literature, Ref. PS221 .C8 1969, v.1-v.4 (TQ), v.1-v.4 (BA)
MBL, Modern British Literature, Ref. PR473 .T4, v.1-v.3 (TQ)
NNAL, Native North American Literature, Spec Coll Ref. PS508 .I5 N38 1994 (TQ)
RGAL, Reference Guide to American Literature, Ref. PS129 .R44 2000, 4th ed (TQ and BA)
RGEL, Reference Guide to English Literature, Ref. PR106 .S7 1991, v.1-v.3 (BA)
RGWL, Reference Guide to World Literature, Ref. PN524 .R44 1995, v.1-v.2 (BA)
SATA, Something About the Authors, Ref. PN451 .S6, v.1-v.232 (TQ and BA) – also online
TCLC, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Ref. PN771 .G27, v.1-v.201 (TQ), v.1-v.179 (BA)
TCWW, Twentieth-Century Western Writers, Ref. PS271 .T84, 1982 and 1991 (TQ)
TEA, Twayne’s English Author Series, Call # varies (begins with PR generally) (TQ)
TUA, Twayne’s United States Authors Series, Call # varies (begins with PS generally) (TQ)
TWA, Twayne’s World Author Series, Call # varies (TQ)
WCH, Writers for Children, Ref. PN1009 .A1 W73 1988 (TQ)
WLC, World Literature Criticism, Ref. PN523 .W67 1992, v.1-v.6 (BA)
WLCS, World Literature Criticism Supplement, Ref. PN523 .W67 1992 Suppl., v.1-v.2 (BA)
WYA, Writers for Young Adults, Ref. PS490 .W75 1997, v.1-v.3 (TQ), Ref. Z1037 .A1 W74, 1st ed. (TQ)
YABC, Yesterday’s Authors of Books for Children, Ref. PN451 .Y4, v.1-v.2 (TQ)
YAW, St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, Ref. PS490 .S7 1999, 2nd ed. (BA)

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