Methods & Materials of Literary Research
Engl 201, T 7-9:45pm (Fall 2007)
Graduate Course, English Department, San José State University
Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Office: FO 220
Office Hours: T/R 3-4pm & by appt.
Phone: 408.924.4475
Email: kharris at


Assignment Descriptions Reading Schedule

Printable Version (pdf)

Course Description:
English 201 is a hands-on approach to the collection, evaluation, and presentation of research materials. Course work includes the history of manuscript/book technology, transcription, editing, textual histories, research into journals/book reviews, introduction to the scholarly community (i.e. libraries, conferences, protocols for submitting and giving papers) and bibliography.

This course is being offered in the Incubator Classroom, a technology-rich environment that offers use of SMART boards, data projector, document camera, laptops for all students, Internet connection, video conferencing, portable furniture and an immense amount of software, including Moodle (wiki, forums, chat, blogs) -- all of which we will utilize this semester.  For this reason, the course information will be lodged with our Moodle site rather than the course schedule (permission needed to enter).

An article will be the result of all of our experiments.  Look for that.  What follows is basic information for this course in one long Web document.

Required Texts (on reserve in King Library):
Altick and Fensternmaker. The Art of Literary Research. 4th ed. W. W. Norton.
Castle, Gregory. Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory. Blackwells, 2007.
Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. Penguin, 2001.
Finkelstein, David and Alistair McCleery. Book History Reader. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2006.
Greetham, D. C. Textual Scholarship. Garland Publishing
Harner, James. Literary Research Guide. 4th ed. MLA, 2002.
Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman. Harper, 2005.
Email account & flash drive
  Recommended Texts:
Baker, Nancy L. and Nancy Huling. A Research Guide for Undergraduate Students. 6th ed. MLA.
Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference (or some writing handbook)
Payne, Michael. A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory. Blackwells.
Semenza, Gregory Colón. Graduate Study for the 21st Century. New York: Palgrave, 2005. (a must if you intend to pursue an academic career)


  Grade Distribution
  5% Forum Posts & Blog Entries (3pts each)
5% Investigating Resources
10% Review of Electronic Scholarly Edition
10% Descriptive Bibliography
5% Listserv Report
15% Textual History (Group Project)
15% Reflective Essay (altered from 10%)
15% Conference Proposal & Annotated Bibliography
(altered from 10%)
5% Analysis of Journal Article
15% Conference Paper & Presentation
10% Class Discussion & Participation
  Class Discussion & Participation
Our meeting space is the technology-rich environment of the Incubator Classroom where we will create wikis, respond to each other in online forums, collaborate on editing and share strategies, successes and failures in our scholarly adventures. The technology, though sometimes daunting, will actually enhance our discussions and has the capability to improve research as well as writing skills. It requires a commitment to participating, though. Each participant will demonstrate her/his preparedness by raising questions, sharing interesting materials, presenting effectively, among other things. For all assignments, please bring both a paper copy as well an electronic copy (on flash drive or disk or uploaded to our class server).

Since this course focuses on methods of literary research, we will conduct class sessions as workshops rather than lectures. For most of our sessions, groups will lead the discussion. Since a methods course focuses upon "how to" rather than coverage of literary periods or forms, our discussions will most assuredly wander into all geographical and literary areas. For these reasons, this workshop atmosphere depends upon each individual’s preparedness and participation. Each class meeting will revolve around presentations of that meeting’s assignment as well as the reading questions posted by each group. Use the following as guidelines for this portion of your final grade:
  • To earn a "C," do the minimum: at every meeting, read and prepare assigned readings so you are never at a loss if you are asked a question, but speak only when called upon, do "ordinary," plain-vanilla presentations and responses. This is the "bottom line" for getting a "C" in this part of the course.
  • To earn a "B," at every meeting, prepare assigned readings thoroughly, initiate discussions about them by asking good questions or suggesting ways to interpret readings, do presentations that reveal that you have done good additional work that you can make both interesting and meaningful to our discussions, and participate actively in those discussions.
  • For an "A," take it up another level entirely: at every meeting, prepare readings thoroughly, find and talk about connections among them and among other aspects of culture (then and now), take a real leadership role in class discussions, including working actively to get others involved in the talk, make your presentations and responses "sparkle" by bringing to them something really special in terms of your own contributions, interests, skills, and abilities to think in broad even interdisciplinary terms. Most of all, remember that an "A" indicates the very best grade a person can get; that should tell you what sort of work you need to do to earn the grade of "A."

      Forum Posts & Blog Entries (3pts each)
    Each week, you will post to both a forum and a blog. The forum will act as a warm-up for class discussions. Various groups will be responsible for posting questions in the forum by Sunday, 12pm for that week’s readings. Each class member is then responsible for responding to at least one set of questions from another group. The blog entries will be written during class and will act as a journal of your experiences. Questions will direct this writing.
      Investigating Resources
    This assignment is intended to teach basic research skills in using King Library and its databases. You will work with Harner’s Literary Research Guide. More instructions to follow.


      Review of Electronic Scholarly Edition
    The literary profession has responded to recent innovations in technology (and even created some new tools) by moving scholarly editions online. This means that many editions are now fully searchable using simple keyword combinations. In addition, these editions are becoming more and more multi-media by incorporating images, comparative editions and source materials. We will examine the NINES consortium of electronic editions. In writing a review, you will learn to assess the resource for its literary representation as well as its digital display just as you would for a print edition. This type of writing is important in order to become a critic of the literary scholarship. On the due date, we will hear reports from everyone. All reviews will be posted to the course wiki for everyone’s review. More instructions to follow.
      Descriptive Bibliography
    A poem, short story, novel or essay is disseminated to its readers through a very particular physical body – one that holds clues to its origination, production and reception. Because of this, you will learn how to write a description of that "body" and its bibliographic codes. This exercise will allow you to practice a new type of language, one that requires you to understand that literature is not rooted solely in its lexical representation. We will review examples of descriptive bibliography and even workshop a few drafts. On the due date, we will hear reports from everyone.
    (assignment deleted)
      Listserv Report
    The literary profession has become easier to access because of the interconnectedness of scholars. Conferences were generally the place to make impressions and deliver new scholarship. However, for the past 10 years, listservs have become the preferred community for scholarly queries and community-building. For this reason, you will subscribe to a listserv in your area of interest, e.g., 18th-Century British Literature. After monitoring that listserv (and even posting if you feel so inclined), report on its efficacy, professionalization and general use. We will post these reports to the course wiki in our continuing efforts to build an encyclopedia of research and scholarly strategies. On the day that the report is due, everyone will present their findings.

    The listserv's readers are scholars and academics who study all aspects of literature some of whom we are reading this semester. There is a particular etiquette to posting on a professional listserv, therefore before you post anything, observe proper nettiquete. (For instance, you might let them know that you’re a graduate student.)
      Textual History (Group Project)
    Working in the groups that were formed during the first class session, you will put together a textual history on a text of your group’s choice. Greetham begins our investigation into this type of critical inquiry in Chapter 7 of Textual Scholarship. We’ll have time to brainstorm, workshop and discuss strategies (and even define textual history). Each group will present its findings on the due date. More information and instructions to follow.
      Analysis of Journal Article
    After we’ve gone through research methods, we’ll need to look at how scholars use this material. By analyzing another scholar’s work, you will get a glimpse at the publish-or-perish part of this profession. The first step will be to identify a journal, then find a peer-reviewed article. Further instructions will follow.
      Conference Proposal & Annotated Bibliography
    A conference is a good way to introduce yourself to the profession. But, it all begins by identifying a conference that you’d like to attend and then submitting a proposal. We’ll draft, revise and present a conference proposal in order to prepare for writing the full conference paper. The annotated bibliography will be early evidence of your research. After reviewing all proposals (posted to the wiki), we’ll begin to assemble an actual conference with panels, moderators and presentations to occur on the final exam day. More instructions will follow.
      Conference Paper & Presentation
    Writing a conference paper is an art in and of itself. Each class member will draft a paper based on the proposals and annotated bibliography. Then there’s presenting the paper, another art form separate from the writing. We’ll go over presentation styles to prepare for our culminating conference. The paper itself will be due on our conference day.
      Reflective Essay
    This final essay will synthesize not only your scholarly adventures but also the theoretical and critical readings that we will perform all semester. Your weekly blog entries can help you with this final essay. We’ll discuss these reflections at the last class meeting.
      Grading Policy
      The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the SJSU Catalog ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A= excellent; B= above average; C= average; D= below average; F= failure. For final grades, 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 69-60 is a D, and below 60 is an F. Pluses and minuses are the middle of each range. In calculating the final grade, a set number will represent each letter grade; for example, B+ is 87.5, B is 85, and B- is 82.5.

    In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs. Grades issued will represent a full range of student performance (no extra credit offered) and will adhere to the following SJSU academic standards of assessment:
    • The "A" essay will be well organized and well developed, demonstrating a clear understanding and fulfillment of the assignment. It will show the student’s ability to use language effectively and construct sentences distinguished by syntactic complexity and variety. Such essays will be essentially free of grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors.
    • The "B" essay will demonstrate competence in the same categories as the "A" essay. The chief difference is that the "B" essay will show some describably slight weaknesses in one of those categories. It may slight one of the assigned tasks, show less facility of expression, or contain some minor grammatical, mechanical, or usage flaws.
    • The "C" essay will complete all tasks set by the assignment, but show weakness in fundamentals (usually development), with barely enough specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. The sentence construction may be less mature, and the use of language less effective and correct than the "B" essay.
    • The "D" essay will neglect one of the assigned tasks and be noticeably superficial in its treatment of the assignment—that is, too simplistic or short. The essay may reveal some problems in development, with insufficient specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. It will contain grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.
    • The "F" essay will demonstrate a striking underdevelopment of ideas and insufficient or unfocused organization. It will contain serious grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.
      Late Policy
    Since this is a seminar, you need to be prepared at every class meeting with the readings and writings. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must contact me prior to our class meeting to discuss the situation. Because an incomplete allows for extended time to complete the requirements of the course (and is unfair to your colleagues), a request for one is not generally granted.
      Academic Honesty
    Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San José State University, and the University’s Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Please know that submitting work from another course (recycling) is also against the Academic Honesty Policy. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Policy on academic integrity can be found at:
      Avoiding Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of somebody else’s words or ideas and is considered an instance of academic dishonesty that instructors must report. You commit plagiarism by buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper;
    • hiring someone to write a paper;
    • building on someone’s ideas without providing a citation;
    • or copying from another source or using a source too closely when paraphrasing.

    In other words, submit only your own work. To learn how to cite sources accurately and forthrightly, consult your handbook. If you have any questions about when or how to document a source, do not hesitate to ask me for clarification. Turning in plagiarized work will result in immediate failure in the assignment and possible failure in the course and dismissal from San José State University. See King Library’s definition, the University policy and a plagiarism tutorial: 

    Plagiarism checks will be performed by asking students to submit various written exercises or essays to, a service which scans documents for all references to Web sources and other essays. The instructor reserves the right to revise the requirements and to notify students of such revision in a timely manner.

      Classroom Environment
    Respect your fellow students and I: Arrive on time (excessive tardiness will effect your participation grade) and do not partake in disruptive behavior. If you are late, wait for an appropriate moment to enter so you do not disturb the class. Turn off cell phones or put them on silent mode during the class period.
    Email is the best possible way to contact me (9am-5pm) and has the added bonus of recording our conversations. When emailing me, please consider it a formal communication: include the appropriate salutation, your name, your question/comment. Know that long conversations over email are not fruitful merely because of the limitations of technology. If you have an extended question or dilemma, please visit me during office hours. I will amass a class email list and will occasionally send out information regarding our meetings or the readings. Please provide an email address that you check daily.
      Course Moodle
    This is our central location for the wiki, blog and forum. The site is accessible by registered users with an enrollment key. We will have a tutorial from the Incubator Classroom staff on the first day of class to help acclimate to all of this technology. If you run into any technical problems while trying to FTP your documents to our classroom server or logging into Moodle from home, please contact the IC staff (contact information given during first session).
      SJSU Writing Center
    Visit me during office hours for help with your writing. For even further help, go to the Writing Center located in Clark Hall, Suite 126. Hours: Monday-Thursday 9-7 and Friday 9-1; Call for appointments at 924-2308 or go online at  Work with tutors in a one-on-one environment. Make appointments online at the above website.
      LARC (Learning Assistance Resource Center)
    The Learning Assistance Resource Center is an on-campus facility that provides peer tutoring for San José State University students. LARC offers assistance with writing, and if you feel that you need intensive help beyond what I can offer during office hours, please request a writing tutor. The Center is located in The Student Services Center in the 10th Street Parking Garage, Room 600. The phone number is (408) 924-2587.
      Disabilities Policy
    If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours.  Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with the DRC to establish a record of their disability.




    HO = Handout given in class
    = see our class website for clickable url
    = Book History Reader

    Altick = The Art of Literary Research
    = Literary Research Guide
    = Textual Scholarship




    Reading Due

    Assignment Due

    Week 1:
    Tues 8/28



    • Knowledge Base Quiz (in class)

    • Reflective Blog

    Week 2:
    Tues 9/4


    Altick, Chps. 1 & 8

    • Reading Post

    • Intellectual Autobiography (200 words)

    • Reflective Blog


    Altick, Chps. 2 & 3


    Darnton, "What is the History of Books" (BHR 9)


    McKenzie, "Sociology of a Text" (BHR 205)

    Week 3:
    Tues 9/11

    2 & 3

    Altick, Chp. 4

    • Reading Post

    • Reflective Blog

    4 & 1

    Altick, Chp. 5


    Week 4:
    Tues 9/18

    Defining Textual Studies


    TS, Intro & Chp. 1


    TS, Chps.2


    TS, Chp. 3


    Hume, "Aims & Uses" (Online)

    Week 5:
    Tues 9/25


    Borges, "Library of Babel" (Online)

    • Reading Post

    • Reflective Blog


    TS, Chp. 4


    Poetess Archive (Online)


    Blake Archive (Online)

    Week 6:
    Tues 10/2

    1 & 2

    TS, Chps. 7

    • Reading Post

    • Descriptive Bibliography (wiki)

    • Reflective Blog

    3 & 4

    TS, Chps. 8

    Week 7:
    Tues 10/9


    Eliot, The Professor and the Madman, Chps. 1-3


    Chps. 4-6


    Chps. 7-9


    Chps. 10 & 11

    Week 8:
    Tues 10/16

    • Writing for a Conference: Bring in a current CFP

    • Discuss Annotated Bibliography


    Gregory Colón Semenza (Chp 9) (Online) -- reading added 9/5

    Week 9:
    Tues 10/23

    4 & 3

    Gregory Colón Semenza (Chp 5) (Online) (moved to 10/30)



    2 & 1

    Gregory Colón Semenza (Chp 10) (Online) (moved to 10/30)

    Week 10:
    Tues 10/30


    Altick, Chp. 7 (Composition)

    4 & 3 Gregory Colón Semenza (Chp 5) (Online)
    2 & 1 Gregory Colón Semenza (Chp 10) (Online)

    Week 11:
    Tues 11/6

    • Guest Speaker on Literary Criticism & Theory (TBD)

    • Modern Critical Methods Wiki (in-class)

    • Conference Presentations (How To)

    • Organize panels for Conference; revise proposals (wiki)


    Blackwell Guide (1-61)

    (Bring Payne Dictionary if have it)




    • Reading Post

    • Reflective Blog

    November 8th, 7:30pm Salman Rushdie, Morris Dailey Hall

    See Other Authors & Discuss Books at the CLA Events (

    Week 12:
    Tues 11/13

    • Discuss Future of the Book

    • Presentations on Journal Article


    BHR: Poster


    BHR: Duguid


    BHR: Nunberg


    Electronic Literature Collection Vol. I (Online) (pick 1) & "Code," rssgallery  (Online)

    Week 13:
    Tues 11/20

    • Video Conference with Guest Carolyn Guertin (7-8:30pm)

    • Presentations on Listservs

    • Conference Planning (Moderating, Introducing & Titling)

    • Discuss Reflective Essay Assignment


    Week 14:
    Tues 11/27

    • Workshop on Writing Conference Papers (bring draft)


    • Reflective Blog

    Week 15:
    Tues 12/4

    • Reflection & Synthesis

    • Moving Beyond: CVs & Grant Applications

    All Groups

    Fforde, The Eyre Affair


    Tues 12/18

    FINAL EXAM (7:45-10pm)

    Our Conference

    (open to public & recorded)


    Conference Paper


    Dr. Katherine D. Harris
    Last updated: 10/16/2007 05:03 PM
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