Annotated Bibliography Requirements and Tips for English 330
Annotated bibliographies can take many forms, but they are all topic-organized and strive to help users understand what scholars are saying about their topics. The biggest differences among them are the length of the annotations and the degree to which the annotators go beyond merely descriptions of the sources and into analysis of the sources' usefulness and quality. For this seminar, two large paragraphs probably will be enough text. The first paragraph should describe the source's subject, analytical theory (think English 215) or methodology, most important evidence, and main conclusions. The second paragraph should respond analytically to those issues. How important is this subject and for whom? Does the interpretive theory or method of handling the evidence seem sound or do they pose problems? Does the evidence seem to support the conclusions reached? Finally, can you see ways to build upon the source or use it as a tool in our seminar discussions or papers? For instance, if it analyzes one fabliau or romance, try out its method and conclusions on another poem of the same genre. What happens and what do you make of it? These do not have to be fully developed, paper-length analyses, just tests of the usefulness of the article. When choosing an article, you might want to skim it first for its conclusions and perform that last test first. Why waste time on an article that, while sound enough, does not seem to be useful for anything else you would want to do?
When picking articles or testing them for suitability, please consider asking me for help if you are unsure. Especially if you have not yet taken English 215 and do not know much about interpretive theory, ask for help from members of the class who have taken the course and/or from me. Critical methods are the rules by which we play the serious game of literary interpretation, and until you know those rules, it is hard to determine whether your source is playing the game well or poorly. You would not want to copy the playing style of a player who had poor form or broke the game's rules.
Click here for some quick links to the library's online journal subscriptions and printed essay collections that are likely to have articles relevant to Chaucer studies. Astute students (is that redundant?) would be likely to choose articles or book chapters relevant to their GP pilgrims for this week, and to do so this weekend in order to get a head start on writing the annotation while the semester was fairly calm. The link to the "Annotated Chaucer Bibliographies from Previous Semesters" will let you browse years of Chaucer seminar annotations. If you would like to read and annotate an article or book chapter someone already has done, have at it! As long as the annotation reflects your own thinking and critical approach, it is as valid as any other. Be aware that annotations dated early in the semester might have been somewhat less high quality than those dated after students had received some graded feedback from me, and as always, in any class, there are some real stars whose insight and thoroughness you could emulate to achieve similar success. Dare to be great!