Library Research Exercises

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Directions: These exercises are designed to familiarize you with a number of basic reference tools for literary research. Therefore, even if you know the answer to a question without consulting anything or anyone, you are required to document your answers with a reliable source (or several, in the case of selected questions) that you actually consult. Please provide a brief summary of the route you took to the answer.  Whenever possible, you should give the reference in Harner for your source of information. Several of the questions are drawn from Byatt's Possession, and where that is the case I have provided page references where you can find the item in the novel.  Do not feel you need to read or even skim the novel to do these exercises.  Indeed, I purposely am asking you to do these before we read the novel in class, because I am most interested in fostering skill in using the library to discover information the context for which is vague at best.

Submit this completed form by the third class meeting.

NOTE: I STRONGLY recommend that you compose your answers in another program, such as a word processor like MS Word, save them, and then cut-and-paste them into these windows. I will not accept the misfiring of this form as an excuse for not having the answers completed.

Do twelve (12) of the following exercises:

Sources for Archival Research

(Note: In addition to the print sources provided by Harner, one can take advantage of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.)

1. Where would one find a manuscript of at least some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese?

2. Where in this region of the US would you find a collection of Christina Rossetti poems in manuscript? Name at least one poem you would find there.

3. Where would one find the diaries of Henry Crabb Robinson (9)?

Reference Works

You are a scholar who has been commissioned to produce an annotated edition of Byatt's novel Possession. Write drafts of your annotations for these items (and be sure to include your source).

4. Mythology and folklore: Ragnarök (12), Maenads (153), and Wade and his wife (278)

5. 18th- and19th-century philosophy and science: Vico (4); Baron Cuvier and the Megatherium (190); Lyell's Principles of Geology (298)

6. Victorian popular culture: anti-vivisection propaganda (270) and spiritualism (324)

7.  English places: Richmond (49) and Whitby (283)

8. For these phrases, find the definition and the earliest appearance in the language: "glory-hole" (90), "motte-and-bailey defenses" (545)

9. Jane Carlyle and Mrs. Humphry Ward (129; Added requirement: explain why the DNB is not an adequate source of information for these Victorians.)

10. Foreign phrases: hoc opus, hic labor est (116), 'Verweile doch, du bist so schön' (312)

11.  Literary theory: simulacrum (230) and semiotics (273)

12. "Tell your aunt," he said, "that you met a poet, who . . . sends her his compliments, and will not disturb her, and is on his way to fresh woods and pastures new" (555). What is the literary allusion?


Critical Opinion

13. Citing at least three sources, survey trends in Robert Browning criticism in the last three years in a paragraph (note: I am less interested in the comprehensiveness of your summary than in your ability to find appropriate sources--i.e. review essays, published surveys of research).

14. Find three early reviews of Byatt's novel and represent in a paragraph the range and quality of commentary.


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