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CMP-203: Literature and Composition (Harris, Spring 2020)

Strategies for Essay 3

Annotated Bibliography and Research Narrative


Initial Research Question Due: Thursday, Apr. 2

Progress Reports and Reflections Due: Thurs., Apr. 9

Final Draft Due: Thurs., Apr. 16


In your last two essays, you built on and developed skills in literary interpretation, in making connections between texts, and in conducting research to contribute to a scholarly conversation. For your final research project, you will contribute in even greater depth to a scholarly conversation as you explore a literary text or texts of your choosing. 


As Janet Gardner and Joanne Diaz note in Reading and Writing about Literature, the process of writing a literary research paper (or any research paper really) is hardly ever “linear and straightforward” (135). Good research involves coming up with a strong initial question based on a close reading of literary texts (your primary sources), reading and rereading what others have said about that text or those texts (considering secondary sources), and developing a working thesis and often revising that thesis several times in response to what you find. 


Given that this process is often messy, the first step of our project will involve gathering and exploring ideas before we begin writing the final draft. While the final draft of this 8-10-page paper will be designed to make and support an original thesis, or argument, for a reader, the annotated bibliography and research narrative will offer insight into how you are developing these ideas as a writer. Doing this assignment before writing the final paper, and allowing yourself to think through your ideas and get feedback from the class as you write, is much more likely to result in a more interesting and successful final research draft. To this end, you will submit both an annotated bibliography and research narrative before composing the final paper.


  1. Annotated Bibliography


The annotated bibliography component of this assignment serves two central purposes: 1) This component allows you to both gather, summarize, evaluate, and think about how you might use your secondary sources in your final paper; and 2) This component demonstrates to your reader that you have conducted extensive research into your project and that you can effectively summarize and evaluate the material you have found as well as using it to develop your own ideas. To this end, you will present seven secondary sources in paragraph form. At least four of the sources must be scholarly, which means that they will be published in scholarly journals or scholarly books. (See pages 138-39 of RWL for a review of identifying scholarly sources.)  Other sources may include author interviews, reference sources, reviews, comprehensive web sources, and relevant magazine or newspaper articles as determined by your research question. 


Each of your seven paragraph entries on these sources should be structured as follows:


--Citation in MLA as it would appear on a “Works Cited” page;

--Context of the source: Who published the source, where was it published, who is its audience;

--Brief summary of the source: What is the central thesis or argument of the source (if it is scholarly) or what is the central purpose and occasion of the source (if it is an author interview for example)?

--Explanation of how the source connects to your research questions. Does the source expand or change your question? Does it challenge your question? How does it contribute to your question?


Sample entry:


Krouse, Tonya. “Freedom as Effacement in The Golden Notebook: Theorizing Pleasure, Subjectivity, and Authority.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol.  29, no. 3, 2007, pp. 39-56. Project Muse, doi:10.1002/tox.20155. Accessed 21 Oct. 2017.

This scholarly article was published in the modern literature journal  Journal of Modern Literature within the last ten years by Tonya Krouse, an English professor at North Kentucky University. In this article, Krouse focuses on Doris Lessing’s representation of the relationship between the woman writer and her work in her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook. According to Krouse, The Golden Notebook shows how being a woman and being a writer may be contradictory identities in the early 1960s. The difficult style of the book, Krouse claims, attests to the necessity of defining rather than reconciling these contradictions. This article has transformed the way I think about how women writers like Doris Lessing understood their roles in this period. I may use this article in my final research paper to explore in more detail how women writers saw themselves in a period where fewer than 10% of books were published by women (as shown in the above source). 

  1. Research Narrative


The research narrative component of this assignment will narrate (using first-person “I”) the research journey you have undertaken thus far in finding and exploring the sources included in the annotated bibliography. The research narrative will allow you to process and develop your ideas for the final paper as well as to get feedback on their growth and direction. This 3-4-page (1,000-1,250 word) paper written in standard formatting should be constructed as follows:


--The introduction paragraph should offer your initial research question and explain your motivation for wanting to explore this question; 

--Your body paragraphs should be focused on the major transformations in your ideas, your major frustrations, and/or your major discoveries through this exploration process;

--Your conclusion paragraph should offer a working thesis for your final paper and explain why this thesis would be interesting to a reader.


Step 1: Developing a Research Question 


For this project, the first step will be to develop a research question that interests you in order to begin gathering and considering sources in the library. This question will likely change as you learn more, but it is important to have a good question with which to start. 


A good research question:


--Is not too narrow or a question that can be answered factually;

--Is not too broad or expansive;

--Suggests approaches and connections to one to three texts.


You may develop a question that builds on one of our first two assignments, a question relevant to Suzan Lori Park’s play and our drama unit if you want to explore it further, or a question about a text or two to three related literary texts we haven’t read together in class that you would nevertheless like to explore further.


Presearch, or exploring Wikipedia and general Google search results, is a method you can use to find direction for the research question you will take to the library to search for more legitimate sources.


Let’s consider the following research questions asking 1) Are these good places to start exploring?; 

2) If so, where and how would we start? What search terms would we use in the library database for example?


  1. How is James Joyce’s self-imposed exile from Dublin reflected through the protagonists of “Araby” and “Eveline” in Dubliners (1914)? How is his representation of this exile shown especially through the different narrative voices of the stories?


  1. Although they are writing in different periods and contexts, poets Sylvia Plath and Warsan Shire both focus on trauma from a woman’s perspective in poems such as “Lady Lazarus” (1965) and “The House” (2014). How and why do they approach this topic of women’s trauma and can the voices of the poems be considered autobiographical?


  1. How do feminist rewritings of “Little Red Riding Hood” like Angela Carter’s “In the Company of Wolves” (1979) and Nalo Hopkinson’s “Riding the Red” (2001) rethink the theme of sexuality in Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood” (1695)? Did the feminist movement influence this rethinking?


  1. What contradictory versions of motherhood do Suzan Lori Park’s Red Letter Plays present? What ideas about motherhood do these plays ultimately offer?


  1. How have Suzan Lori Park’s Red Letter Plays been staged? What other plays have influenced the distancing and distanced style of her plays?


  1. How and why does Emily Dickinson represent the theme of death throughout her poems (with a particular focus on her famous “Because I could not stop for death” poem)? In which ways might this representation challenge how we think of death and dying? 


In Gale Literature Criticism:

  • Enter the author and work in the single search box
  • Use the categories on the side to find criticism or topic overview.

In Library Catalog (via Library One Search)

Search 1. Author as SUBJECT -AND-
Title of work as KEYWORD (select no option)

Search 2. Author as SUBJECT -AND-
"Criticism and interpretation" as SUBJECT
Search 3. Author as KEYWORD (select no option) -AND-
Title of work as KEYWORD (select no option)
(This will broaden your search to find items in the table of contents of books.)

In Library Catalog ("Find Books and More" tab)
In single search box type author's name and work OR
[authors's name] criticism
Search 1. Author as SUBJECT -AND-
Title of work as KEYWORD (select no option)

Search 2. Author as SUBJECT -AND-
"Criticism and interpretation" as SUBJECT
Search 3. Author as KEYWORD (select no option) -AND-
Title of work as KEYWORD (select no option)
(This will broaden your search to find items in the table of contents of books.)

In Literature Databases (via Library One Search or in MLA directly)

Search 1.

  • Author as SUBJECT  -AND-
  • Work as SUBJECT

Search 2 (broader; will catch mentions in abstracts or titles; will catch in table of contents for a book recod)

  • Author as SUBJECT  -AND-
  • Work as keyword


BOOKS that are collections of essays contain pages, either at the beginning or the end, that list credentials, affiliations, and/or provide a brief bio. Books written by one person may contain information in the beginning or end of a book, or on the book jacket. You may also find information in the "acknowledgements" section or the preface.


ARTICLES in academic journals and magazines might list the credentials and affiliations of or give a brief bio about the author either at the beginning or end of the article.

Sometimes, contributor information is given in a separate section of the journal, either in the beginning or end pages.  This preforatory or concluding material may or may not be available through the library subscription databases.  To find out whether it is available, click on the "source" link in the full citation to open up the journal record. Click on the year, volume, and issue for your citation.  All the contents of the journal should be listed there.

You might also be able to get this information by visiting the publisher's web site and by looking in that volume and issue.  While articles may not be available for free through publishers on the regular Web, contributor information is often available.

To use our example for Hypatia (left), we find that contributor biographical information is not available in the article itself (by viewing the PDF). It is available if we browse through the volumes and issues of Hypatia in Academic Search Premier.  Also, if we go to the publisher's web site (left, 3rd diagram), we find that there is a separate section called "Notes on Contributors," which comes at the end of the journal. 

If you want more information on the author, Google him or her to see what you can find! It may be helpful to put their name in quotes and include any institutional affiliations.

  • Is your item an article, a book, or a book chapter? 
  • Is it in a magazine, newspaper, or an academic journal? 
  • What kinds of articles does the journal publish?
1. The citation information in the library databases should tell you.
2. Search the journal title under "Find Journals" and click the title of the journal to learn more about it.
3. Use the database Ulrich's to find more about your sources if the database does not provide it--see the next tab in this box..
The example below uses Academic Search Premier as an example; other databases vary.


1. Icons in the result list next to the citation should tell you what you are looking at, but you can click on the article title to go the full citation, where you can learn more information.


2. This brings you the full record view, where you can see your "document type" (article), subject terms, an abstract (summary), and the ISSN (international standard serial number) of the journal, a unique number used to identify it worldwide.


To learn more about the "source" itself, click on the title (or in some cases [journal detail] at the end of the "Source" line.) From the intial results screen, we already know it is an academic journal.  But is it peer-reviewed?  What topics does it publish?  Click on the title of the "source" to find out.


3. This is the record for the source "Hypatia," the journal in which the article above was published. We learn that this is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes on feminist philosophy.




4. If we click on the publisher link, we are taken to the journal's home page, where we can learn even more about it, if we like, such as its aims and scope.

  • Is this an article from a peer-reviewed journal?
  • Is this a popular or a scholarly source?
  • What type of magazine or journal do I have?


Ulrichsweb can answer your question!


The Rider University Libraries subscribes to a database called Ulrichsweb that gives "detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals (also called serials) of all types: academic and scholarly journals, e-journals, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more."


You can search by journal title, keyword, ISSN number, and subject area.



Below is the record for a journal called Marvels & Tales.  This record tells you that Marvels & Tales is an academic or scholarly journal that is peer-reviewed


Also, click on the website link to go to the journal or magazine's home page, where you can learn more information about it!