Dr. Katherine D. Harris
English 201 (Fall 2007)

Research Tools

In-Class Exercises


In class we'll be using James Harner's Literary Research Guide and our library's electronic databases to find answers to the following questions one might come across in literary research.

As part of your answer, record the process by which you determined your answers.

  • Which resources did you use?
  • Were those resources described in Harner? If so, what is the item number?
  • Which resources worked? Which didn't?

The questions below come largely (sometimes verbatim, sometimes adapted) from two important bibliographic sources: Richard Altick's The Art of Literary Research. (No, the answers are not in that book) and the encyclopedic mind of John T. Shawcross.

  1. Where is the closest full run of Godey's Ladies Book?
  2. In the winter of 1849-1850, Margaret Fuller (Ossoli) was working on a history of the Roman revolution, which had occurred the preceding year. What happened to it?
  3. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1970, but for political reasons was unable to receive it. In what year did he take possession of the prize?
  4. How many dissertations on Phillis Wheatley (perhaps in conjunction with other figures) have been accepted at American universities in the past five years?
  5. Recently a Heritage Lottery Fund contribution of £17.7 million to the National Library of Scotland (towards the £31.2 purchase price) will allow the NLS to acquire the archives of John Murray (purchase price: £31.2 million; independently valued at £45 million). Who was John Murray, where was he located, and why is the archive important?
  6. Who was Martha Moulsworth? What is her most important text?
  7. How many pre-1700 editions of Bunyan's Grace Abounding are known to exist?
  8. Where has Sara Sulieri's "Meatless Days" been anthologized?
  9. Identify important differences between the Oxford English Dictionary and its electronic counterpart. Is the latter an effective substitute for the former?
  10. You are interested in finding out the following information
    • how influential overall is John T. Shawcross's body of work?
    • how frequently other scholars have cited his 1993 John Milton: The Self and The World?
    • how many book reviews of that work have been published?
  11. Identify John Bull, Martin Marprelate & Sylvanus Urban.
  12. What does each of the following words, used by American writers, mean, and when and where was it apparently first used?
    • Unhandselled (Emerson, 1836)
    • Norway mile (Poe, 1841)
    • Pungle (Twain, 1884)
    • Bose (Thoreau, 1854)
  13. You are researching Laurence Stern's reading. Identify the full and correct title of each of these works, included in the sale of his library in 1768.
    • Fuller's Pisgah-Sight of Palestine, with Cuts. 1662
    • Koehoorn's new Method of Fortification, with Cuts. 1705.
  14. In the following sentence from Disraeli's 1837 novel Venetia, what is a "tansy" and a "blamango"?
  15. "Simple as was the usual diet at Cherbury, the cook was permitted on Sunday full play to her art, which, in the eighteenth century, indulged in the production of dishes more numerous and substantial than our refined tastes could at present tolerate [...dishes including a] Florentine tourte or tansy, an old English custard, a more refined blamango, and a riband jelly of many colours"
  16. Of what significance to literature since World War II was the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village? Of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco?
  17. At what point in its publication history were the marginal glosses added to Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?
  18. Two British writers died the same day JFK was assassinated. Identify them and their most significant works.
  19. You have found a hitherto unknown letter by Thoreau that internal evidence proves was written between 1849 and 1856. It is dated simply, Friday May 5. What was the year?
  20. Identify the following book owned by the self-taught poet Robert Bloomfield (1766-1823).
  21. Poems, by David Hitchcock (the self-taught American poet) sent by the Author to Mr. Bloomfield
  22. The annotation of literary texts in modern classroom editions is sometimes defective. Here is a selection of errors (italicised) found in the notes to various modern editions of Carlyle's Past and Present (1843) and to anthologized annotations from that book. What is the correct explanation?
  23. "Yes, in the Ugolino Hunger-tower stern things happen: best-loved Gaddo fallen dead on his Fatherıs knees!" (I.i; the allusion is to Dante's Inferno, XXXIII)
    • Annotator A: "count Ugolino who was with his two sons and two grandsons was starved in prison"
    • Annotator B: "He died, with four sons, in prson, starved to death."
    • Annotator C: "He was imprisoned with two sons and two nephews..."
    • Annotator D: "...the story of Ugolino and his two sons..."
  24. On May 15 (25) 1696, in a letter preserved among the manuscripts at Longleat, seat of the marquis of Bath, Sir William Trumbull paid a handsome compliment to his correspondent, the poet Matthew Prior. What was it? And why is the double date given?
  25. What were the first two texts of Shakspeare published in America?
  26. Where in the Old Testament is the town of Nazareth first mentioned?
  27. What is the Schomberg Collection? What are its holdings? Where is it?
  28. What can you learn about the first publication of Thomas Deloney's Jack of Newbery? Where did you learn about it?