Literary Research


English 650 is a course for M.A. students who want to learn how to do scholarly research and writing. It is also a general introduction to the profession of English. Click on the links to the right to learn more about the course.


Meets in the Fall 2009 semester
in 110 Capers Hall, from 4-6:45 Tuesday afternoons


Calls for Papers (academic conferences)





This course introduces students to methods of finding information on literary topics and to the major branches of literary scholarship. So we will spend our time learning about library tools, reference works, and the Internet; and we will read and discuss material pertaining to scholarly editing, writing biography, finding literary sources and analogues, and other like topics -- especially the crucial ways in which the electronic age has changed the way in which we perceive reading and writing. Students will participate a good deal in the course, giving reports and sharing findings. We will hear from guest speakers and visit manuscript archives in Charleston.  The course will also feature multimedia instruction.


Altick, Richard D., and John J. Fenstermaker. The Art of Literary Research.
Harner, James L. Literary Research Guide.
Achtert, Walter S., and Joseph Gibaldi. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research 
(most recent edition)

Reserve readings: those articles and parts of books not found above are either on electronic reserve in the Daniel Library at The Citadel (you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to see and print the articles) and/or available in e-texts through hyperlinks embedded in the schedule, below.



10%     Library questions (weekly)
10%     Journal report (13 Oct)
10%     Outside reading report (varies from week to week)
25%     Editing project and oral presentation (10 or 17 Nov)
30%     Bibliography project (1 Dec)
15%     Comprehensive final examination (8 December)

Attendance is required at each class meeting unless there are extenuating circumstances. Please talk to me about those in advance.

Editing Project


Each student will produce an original critical edition of a letter (supplied by the professor) by a world-class author. 

The letter will be edited as a "public" text in an informational manner. Through footnotes, each topic, theme, person, place, title, or concept will be glossed, with the source for the information noted.

The student will then write a 4-5 page "introduction" to the letter, explaining the contexts and circumstances under which the letter was written and setting forth its importance to study of the period, author, or topic that it considers. A bibliography should accompany the introduction, listing sources consulted that are not already identified in the footnotes. At the end of the term, we'll hear about your projects in an oral report. Click here for a sample.

For your consideration:  will personal letters in hardcopy be a thing of the past, given the dominance of e-mail? Probably so -- so think about that as you work on your editing project. And maybe read this New York Times article for a recent perspective. 

Bibliographical Project

Bibliographical essay on a topic or period: an introduction to study of the field. The major project for the term. Each student will become an authority on a field of literary study and present a survey of the scholarship in the field in a 20-25 page paper, cross-referenced to an enumerative bibliography of 100-125 items. The purpose of the paper is to provide an introduction to the resources available for scholarly study of the topic. Click here for additional guidelines.

Some possible topics include:

· Anglo-Saxon Poetry  The Harlem Renaissance · Arthurian Literature  The Little Magazines · · Britain's "Angry Young Men"· Anglo-Catholic Writers · American Writers in Hollywood (1920-1950)  · The Revolt from the Village in American Literature (1880-1930) · The American Business Novel · American Writers in Paris (1915-1935) · The Age of Sail in Literature (1700-1900) · Contemporary Canadian Novelists · The Writers of the Algonquin Round Table · Avant-Garde Dramatists of the Early Twentieth Century · Literary London · Literary Florence · Elizabethan Culture · Literary Paris · Poets of World War I · The New Journalists · Science Fiction · American Literary Magazines· The Literature of Empire · Victorian People and Ideas | Pre-Raphaelite Poets

Click here for a sample project on: The Bloomsbury Group

Other Assignments


Journal analysis

Each student will locate and review back numbers of a current scholarly journal. In an oral report, the contents, scope, critical orientation/methodologies, and intended audiences of the journal will be analyzed. Students will also present findings on the methods of manuscript review employed by the journal and any publication data relating to its history. All of the choices below are available in the Daniel Library (check the computer to see which are available at the CofC library as well.) Many are also available in full text via JSTOR, ProjectMuse, and other databases.

Click here for further instructions on the journal report.

· Journal of English and Germanic Philology (JEGP) · Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA) · English Literary History (ELH) · Nineteenth-Century Literature (NCL) · American Literature (AL) · Texas Studies in Language and Literature (TSLL) · Studies in Romanticism (SR) · Southern Literary Journal (SLJ) · Dickens Studies Annual (DSA) · Southern Review · Dreiser Studies · James Joyce Quarterly · Calalloo · American Literary Realism (ALR) · Resources for the Study of American Literature (RALS) · Review of Contemporary Fiction

Outside Reading

You will read a book pertaining to one of the course topics and give a brief report on it to the class (about 20-30 minutes), tying it into class discussion. The point of the presentation is not to give a "book report" about what's good or bad about the text and whether or not you enjoyed reading it, but to describe and amplify on the issues it raises.

A handout should accompany the presentation. This handout should be fairly detailed and thorough, presenting a guide or outline of the book. Remember, you don't want to cover every item on the handout in your presentation. The handout will be a reference for fellow students in studying for the final exam.

Choices are embedded in the weekly schedule, below. 

Library Questions

Due each week. You will write a one to one-and-a-half page (double spaced) explanation to the question (usually in three or four parts), and at the end list the sources you used to find the answer. Each question scored on a ten-point scale (10 or 9=excellent; 8-7=average; 6 and below= poor or unacceptable).

Final Exam

This will consist mainly of short answer and identification questions, drawn from class lecture/discussions and from the Altick book. Note that not everything on the exam may be covered orally by me in lectures or discussions. Students are also responsible for information presented by their classmates on outside reading reports and journal reports. Click here for a review and study guide.


Home | Information | Books | Literary Research

Realism and Naturalism | Poe| Lowcountry Literature| Porgy and Bess

Masterpieces of American Literature | English Department Home Page



Rare Book and Manuscript Archives

Scholarly Resources


Schedule of Work

Class meeting Topic Reading Due Report Due  Assignment Due
25  Aug Introduction.
Distribute questionnaire. Answer students' questions about the course. Introduce ourselves. Tools and caveats. Talk about editing and bibliography assignments. Introduce textbooks.
    Join the listserv SHARP-L at University of Indiana. Click here.
1 Sept Tools of the trade.
Meet in Daniel Library, first floor.
Reference sources--hardcopy and electronic. Printed Bibliographies. Library walk-through. Guest speaker: *Elaine Robbins, Reference and Instruction Librarian, The Citadel, on navigating the information superhighway.
Altick, "Finding Materials" (Chapter 4), "Making Notes" (Chapter 6), "Vocation" and "The Spirit of Scholarship" (PPT) (Chapters 1 and 2); and browse the Harner book
All choices (bibl. topic; outside reading; and journal report) are due today by classtime. Library question #1: How many different bibliographies are available for Edgar Allan Poe? Identify them by title, author, type, and description.
 8 Sept Scholarly Method.
Locating author's papers. Methods of giving credit.  Types of editing. The nature of evidence. Look at editions and examine variants
Altick, 62-88; "The Battle of the Books"
Vanderbilt, American Literature and the Academy; A. Scott Berg, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
Library question #2: Click here.
15 Sept Book History:  Editing, Authorship, Publishing   Altick, The Scholar Adventurers; Dorothy Commins, What is an Editor? Saxe Commins at Work; Rabinowitz, A Passion for Books; Buzbee, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop, A Memoir (Maggie McMenamin) Library question  #3: Click here.
  22 Sept Editing
Hypertext; Debates and Melees. Scholarly Editions. The Study of Book History vs. the Culture Wars of the 1980s; Consideration of editing problems and practices versus the same issues in translating a text.
McGann, "The Rationale of Hypertext."  Parker, "Lost Authority and Cheap Thrills";  Hutchisson, "The Revision of Dreiser's Financier"; Hutchisson, "The Scholar as 'Better Editor'"
Arnold, The Scandal over Ulysses (Rebecca Herbert); Parker, Flawed Texts; Graff, Professing Literature (Robert Battle)
Library question #4: Examine the attached poem (here), collate the different texts, and analyze the variants
 29 Sept Biography
Writing a life. The art and science of the process. Missteps and Discoveries.

After reading Meyers's account of his research for a life of Katherine Mansfield, read this clear rationale for a new biography written by someone at work on the book now.

Meyers, "The Search For Katherine Mansfield"; Meyers, "Repeating the Old Lies"; Menand, "The Women Come and Go: The love song of T. S. Eliot";
Toth, "The Shadow of the First Biographer"(electronic reserve); Hutchisson, "Sinclair Lewis: A Rebel Reclaimed"
Ian Hamilton, The Search for J. D. Salinger; Betty T. Bennett, Mary Diana Dods; Symons, The Quest for Corvo; Telling Lives, ed. Marc Pachter, Extraordinary Lives, ed. William Zinsser, and The Craft of Literary Biography, ed. Meyers
Library question: Click here.
6 Oct Publishing
 Academic publishing - how university presses operate and the purposes of academic writing. Other types of publishing.

Academic Writing  
Writing for a professional audience

New media:
E-books; audio books; graphic novels; hypertext fiction


Altick, "Philosophy of Composition"; How to Write a Scholarly Essay (for graduate students' academic writing) Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies; Nicholas Brisbanes, A Gentle Madness; Nicholas Brisbanes, Every Book Has its Reader; Goldstone, Used and Rare--Travels in the Book World (Daniel Peeler);

Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman (Jara Uzenda)

Library question: Click here.
13 Oct Archives and Material Evidence
Meet in lobby of Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston.
Preservation issues. Physical bibliography. How a book is physically produced and what makes a book rare or collectible. (See diagram)  Guest speaker:  *Harlan Greene, archivist at Avery Research Center.



Altick, "Libraries"

Status reports due on Editing Project and Bibliographical Project (one page each, single spaced) Library question: Click here.
 20 Oct  

Literary Criticism
Patterns of Literary Criticism -- a brief introduction to critical methodologies. 

Scholarly Journals and Organizations
What publishing in a learned journal involves; how journals operate and what they're good for. The nature of scholarly book reviews and evaluation of scholarship


Michael West, "Evaluating Periodicals in English Studies…."  (electronic reserve)  Reports on Journals. Click here for schedule


David Lehman, Signs of the Times; Crews, Pooh Perplex (Adam Johnson);


Library question: here
27 Oct Some Sub-Fields
 Influence, Source, and Reception Studies.        
Questions of Attribution, Plagiarism, and Forgery.

 The OED;  Etymology

Altick, 106-135;  Hutchisson, "Poe, Anna Cora Mowatt, and T. Tennyson Twinkle"; and Hutchisson, "Sinclair Lewis, Paul de Kruif, and The Composition of Arrowsmith"; Altick, 88-106. 
Foster, How to Read Literature like a Professor (Liz Browder)Dewey Ganzel, Fortune and Men's Eyes; Richard Holmes, Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (Gabrielle Lacour); Nick Rankin, Dead Man's Chest (Ryan Boyd); KM Elizabeth Murray, Caught in the Web of Words;  Winchester, The Meaning of Everything)
Library question: click here.
10 Nov State of the Profession
 The scholar in society; the state of the profession; and the humanities job market. What you might do with an MA, or a PhD.
Altick, "The Scholar's Life" (Chapter 8); Rakoff, "My Salinger Year"; Anthony Abbott, "The Art of Teaching"; Edmund S. Morgan, "What Every Yale Freshman Should Know"; Edwards, "Thomas O. Mabbott as Teacher"; "Tales from the College Reading Room"; Dan Morgan, "Connecting Literature to Students' Lives"
David Lodge, Small World (Carissa Shealy); Robert Grudin, Book; Hazard Adams, The Academic Tribes (Hollis Mallory); G. B. Harrison, Profession of English 
 17 Nov   Rachel Donadio, "Literary Letters: Lost in Cyberspace" Reports on Editing Projects.

Click here for the texts of the letters

Editing Projects and Reports Due (Jara; Rebecca; Hollis; Gabrielle; Carissa; Maggie)
  Thanksgiving Break      
 1 Dec     Reports on Editing Projects Editing Projects and Reports Due (Daniel; Brooker; Ryan; Adam; Liz)
 8 Dec       Bibliographical Projects Due

Click here for a list of papers and authors

* This schedule is subject to change *