ENGL 5014: Intro to Literary Research


Daniel Mosser
ENGL 5014 Fall 2009


Office Hours:
2-3 TR, 9-11 Wed.,
& by appt.
Shanks 229
(540) 231-7753

Class time:
3:30-4:45 TR

Shanks 352



This course introduces the materials and methods of research used in English Studies. Students learn how to locate primary texts, contextual documents, and critical scholarship, to evaluate their kinds and degrees of authority, and to incorporate and cite this material in original research.

Introduction to Literary Research focuses on research methods, the use of specialized reference works, literary history, textual studies, especially bibliographic description and textual criticism. It is, on the one hand, a practical introduction to life in graduate English Studies; second, it also aims to show you how to use tools for research in advanced English Studies and how to use the library efficiently (and well) in the service of your own research (since most of you will be involved in the Library Skills course with Purdom Lindblad (Newman Library's subject librarian for English), we can work on more specialized English Studies research); most importantly, "Literary Research" is an introduction to scholarly theory and practice.


Erick Kelemen, Textual Editing and Criticism (New York & London: W. W. Norton, 2009). ISBN 978-0-393-93942-3.

On Reserve

David C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship: An Introduction (New York: Garland, 1992). Call Number Z1001 .G7 1992.

James L. Harner, Literary Reseach Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies (New York: Modern Language Association, 2008). Call Number PR83 .H37 20082.


Précis/Summary (one, 10 points)


Small Group Project


Scavenger Hunt




Project (annotated bibliography)



Please silence all cell phones, pagers, and other class-disruptive devices and technologies before class begins. If you need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability (learning disability, attention deficit disorder, psychological, physical, etc.), if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.


Scholar: this is the jumping-off point for our online course materials
Oxford English Dictionary, New Edition (from off-campus EZ-Proxy sign-in)

Google Scholar search engine
The Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Browse through 40 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.
Worldcat: Bibliographic records for books, journals, sound recordings, videos and manuscript collected and cataloged by your library and libraries around the world. Includes manuscripts written as early as the 11th century. Use ILLiad to request items not owned by VT.
(internal--VIVA--users only). Antecedents include the National Union Catalogue.
: Public-access version.
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Literature Criticism Online: Children's Literature Review, Drama Criticism, Short Story Criticism
Proquest Dissertations and Theses
MLA International Bibliography: this supercedes the print version that appeared annually in bound format, which are all now in storage.
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
"Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure": a TED talk that "argues that human beings are essentialists -- that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is."


Tues. August 28

Introduction to Course and Purdom Lindblad (Newman Library, Instructor for GRAD 5124)

Thurs. August 30

Kelemen, "Forward" and "Why Study Textual Editing and Criticism" (xiii-27); sign up for Précis dates

Tues. Sept. 4

Kelemen, "Text Technologies and Textual Transmissions" (29-72) (précis, Ingrid)

Thurs. Sept. 6

NOTE CHANGE: read "Newly Discovered Secular Lyrics from Later Thirteenth-Century Cheshire" (Pickering, in the Resources section of our Scholar site) for discussion today

Tues. Sept. 11

Scavenger Hunt: no class today

Thurs. Sept. 13

Scavenger Hunt solutions due by midnight via email; Meet in Newman Library Special Collections

Tues. Sept. 18

Watermarks workshop; Kelemen, "Text Technologies and Textual Transmissions," continued

Thurs. Sept. 20

Kelemen, "Textual Criticism and Kinds of Editions" (73-120) (précis, Matt & Kelly)

Tues. Sept. 25

Kelemen: A. E. Housman, "from The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism" (123-34) (précis, Carrie)

Thurs. Sept. 27

Kelemen: W. W. Greg, "The Rationale of Copy-Text" (135-53) (précis, David)

Tues. Oct. 2

Kelemen: Leah Marcus "The Shakespeare Editor as Shrew-Tamer " (226-52) (précis, Sanglin)

Thurs. Oct. 4

Work in-class on small group projects

Tues. Oct. 9

Kelemen: G. Thomas Tanselle, "Editing without a Copy-Text" (253-80) (précis, Andrew)

Thurs. Oct. 11

Kelemen: James Thorpe, "The Aesthetics of Textual Criticism" (154-93) (précis, Luke & Jenna)

Friday Oct. 12
Fall Break

Tues. Oct. 16

Kelemen: Joseph Grigely, "The Textual Event " (194-225) (précis, Max, Wes)

Thurs. Oct. 18

Small group project due

Tues. Oct. 23

Professor Ernest Sullivan will talk about authorial revision in the work of Joseph Conrad

Thurs. Oct. 25

Class discussion of topics for your Annotated Bibliography Project—bring your proposal to class

Tues. Oct. 30

Kelemen: Ralph Hanna III, "Producing Manuscripts and Editions" (333-61) (précis, Henry & Cliff)

Thurs. Nov. 1

Kelemen: Working with Documents: "Truth," Geoffrey Chaucer (509-61)*

Tues. Nov. 6

Kelemen: Charles E. Robinson, "Texts in Search of an Editor: Reflections on the Frankenstein Notebooks and Editorial Authority" (363-83) (précis, Bobbie & Will)

Thurs. Nov. 8

Professor Nancy Metz will visit to the kinds of research questions and methods that are typically generated by Charles Dickens’s texts. For today, read the pdf file in our Resources site entitled "Night Walks.pdf."

Tues. Nov. 13

Professor Paul Sorrentino will talk about similar issues and Stephen Crane

Thurs. Nov. 15

Kelemen: Working with Documents: "from Frankenstein," Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (495-508)*

November 17-25
Thanksgiving Break

Tues. Nov. 27

Kelemen: Working with Editions: "[Safe in their alabaster chambers]," Emily Dickinson (441-72)*; Prof. Tom Gardner

Thurs. Nov. 29

Presentations: Will, Ingrid, Henry, Andrew

Tues. Dec. 4

Presentations: Sanglin, Kelly, Carrie, David

Thurs. Dec. 6

Presentations: Luke, Max, Matt

Tues. Dec. 11

Annotated Bibliography Project due today. Presentations: Bobbie, Jenna, Cliff





Small Group Project:

Due Thurs., October 18.

Option 1:

Prof. Hicok has provided us with successive revisions of several of his poems. I have not indicated the ordering of those revisions. Each of the poems has at least one published version.

For this project, the group of students choosing this option will provide a critical edition of the poems, determining as editors which variants constitute the reading of the text you present as "the poem." You will construct a Corpus of Variants, provide explanatory and textual notes as needed, and provide any necessary documentation of primary or secondary sources used.

Prof. Hicok is willing to meet with you by appointment, but will not respond to emails or other non face-to-face contacts.

Option 2

Lambeth Palace MS 499 was produced c. 1270 at Stanlow Abbey, Cheshire. The main texts are in Latin, but at the foot of ff. 64v-68v are eight, otherwise unknown, Middle English Lyrics written in a very sophisticated combination of alliteration and rhyme. That we know when and where this book was produced is far more than we usually know about a Middle English manuscript.

In 1992, Oliver Pickering published a detailed account of the manuscript and these lyrics (pdf available in our Resources site). He provides both transcriptions and literal translations, linguistic information, place-name information, and commentary on verse form and poetic features.

As thorough as this essay is, I know that there is more to do, or even corrections to be suggested to this preliminary study. For this project, I ask that the team working on it produce one new observation for each member of the team (e.g., five team members, five new observations). These may take the form of linguistic, literary-critical, bibliographical, codicological, historical, or other kinds of fields of inquiry. Each member of the team may submit an individual contribution, or you may choose to submit a group or collaborative contribution for a single grade (i.e., two collaborators, two observations, same grade for both.

For this project, you should state clearly what new insight you are providing, demonstrate your ability to format citations of primary and secondary sources, articulate differences from, or disagreements with Pickering or other scholarly resources, and argue for the value of your contribution in the context of other scholarly opinion.

I include in the Resources site color reproductions of each of the folios containing these texts. (Please note that any further reproduction or publication of these images requires express written permission from Lambeth Palace Library.)

Some tools that might be of help for some approaches are the OED, the Middle English Dictionary, and The Digital Index of Middle English Verse. [back]


Each of you will provide a or précis for one of our readings (i.e., one of the assigned essays, chapters, etc.). The précis should be between two pages and one-third of the original. Note also that a précis is written from the author's point of view. The précis methodology requires scrupulous neutrality towards the content and argument of the target piece of writing; however, in class you may provide us with your own reaction to and critique of the essay/article/chapter. You will discover that some of the materials do not readily present themselves as précis targets. Before you select your targets, please do at least take a look at them. If your selections are problematic, you may choose to opt for the summary format, but please make clear in your contribution which form you are adopting. Each précis should begin with a bibliographical citation of your article, chapter, etc., using MLA Style. Readings marked with an asterisk (*) are not appropriate for a précis; this means more than one of you will have to be responsible for some readings. Please complete your précis before the class session during which we will be discussing the essay/chapter and either email to me to distribute or bring copies to class. You are also welcome to target a reading in our text that is not assigned.

Scavenger Hunt:

Due September 13, by midnight, via email. I will distribute this 10-point exercise In class on Thursday, September 6. We won't have class on the following Tuesday in order to insure you have some "built-in" time to make your Library visit and complete the hunt. You may email me your solutions, keying them to the version of the question you are asked to answer, e.g., "1c," "4d"…. [back]


The purpose of these 10-minute presentations is to share what you have been working on for the Annotated Bibliography project. You [likely] will not be finished when you give your presentation, but you will want to be far enough along to discuss the material intelligently, to review problems you have encountered, and to elicit feedback. [back]

Annotated Bibliography/Review of Scholarship:

Due Tues., December 11: I strongly encourage you to use this as an opportunity to explore a topic you might turn into your capstone project. You will need to produce a bibliography as part of your proposal and this might be a way to accomplish much of that work in advance. An annotated bibliography accomplishes several purposes (see the two "guides" below for elaboration on some of these): it requires you to demonstrate a familiarity with a specific style sheet and to apply the elements of that style sheet to your bibliographic citations; it requires you to demonstrate an understanding of the work's thesis or theses; it provides a summary of the key points in the argument so that you will not have to reread the work to remind yourself of the jist of its content; ideally, an annotated bibliography will allow you to track the scholarly arguments that have emerged on the subject you are exploring. The UNC example below provides some useful examples (e.g., this one using the MLA format). You should be introduced to Endnote in the 1 hour course you are taking with Purdom Lindblad. It would make sense to use this tool for this project, as it will help to insure proper formatting for you bibliography entries. The bibliography, including citations and annotations and any prose commentary, should comprise 15 pages, double-spaced.

Cornell University Guide to Annotated Bibliographies
University of North Carolina Guide to Annotated Bibliographies