Annotated Bibliography, Clarissa, 411-883

I like to assign annotated bibliographies in my classes because they help students gain some sense of mastery over their reading, push them towards different interpretations than they might ordinarily pursue, or help them recognize common threads in the historical-critical responses.

Here’s my description and rationale for the first annotated bib assignment:

  1. Review and, if necessary, selectively reread Richardson 411-883 (yes, what was assigned for last week), to see which portions you might wish to focus upon.
  2. Go through a similar review process with your previous blog posts, class notes, reading journals, and the secondary criticism we’ve excerpted for class discussion.  You are encouraged to read and reflect upon your classmates’ posts as well. Have there been any areas that interested you since we began?  Inquiries begun with one author that another author seemed to follow up?  Questions that you’d like to pursue further, either in relation to the original author or on a broader scale?
  3. Choose a topic that allows you to reconstruct a broader critical or cultural context for understanding Richardson’s work.  The focus should remain on Richardson, though you may also consider SR in relation to one or both of the two earlier authors.  This topic could be literary generic (e.g., amatory fiction and its formal conventions of plot, characterization, etc.); it could be social-historical (practices of marriage, courtship, and child-rearing; sexual violence and/or prostitution; social class or rank; etc.); political (traces of party conflict and/or political history in characterization) or philosophic (questions of autonomy or identity) and so forth.
  4. You are also free to use the keyword clusters I’ve suggested for brainstorming topics or keywords:
    1. Love, Sexuality, Property
    2. Class, Rank, Legitimacy
    3. Morality, Sensibility, Indifference
    4. Happiness and/or Pleasure
  5. Gather together a limited, selective bibliography featuring 2 items on your topic: 2 articles, gathered from MLA Bibliography, Project Muse (req. Muse acct/signin), or JSTOR, pre- and post-1985.  Your topic should offer a critical context for reading Clarissa.
  6. Briefly annotate each item with about 3-5 sentences.
  7. For models, see, e.g., this explanation from the Purdue OWL. There are lots of other guides to annotated bibs online.
  8. Post this online by Monday morning before class, and be prepared to talk about your research, what we’ve learned, and your latest questions about this initial grouping of novels and novelists. [For posting, see this link in WP help.]

Any questions?  Put them up on the blog.  I’m also happy to chime in with suggestions if you get stuck.  Good luck, DM

Author: Dave Mazella

I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston, Department of English, specializing in 18th-century British literature.

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