Annotated Bib #2: Foundational Texts & Topics of Criticism for 18th century Women Novelists through Austen; UPDATED 1 foundational text + 3 annotated entries

Purpose: When choosing a particular topic to research, the problem that we all run into is “what am I interested in, and why?” What are the aspects of this course, text or field, or the questions they raise, that make it intriguing to you? What are the experiences, knowledge, or aspirations that make it more likely for you to follow through? What’s at stake in your desire to learn more?

In my experience, scholars who have reflected upon and developed answers to these kinds of questions are more likely to follow through, learn from the inevitable obstacles, and feel the satisfaction of completing the project and sharing its results.

Assignment: Develop a topic of interest for this annotated bibliography from the earlier portion of our course readings, and try to make it at least potentially relevant to the final project, which will entail reaching out to a text beyond our syllabus.

One further demand: your choice of topic should include consideration of a foundational critical/theoretical/historical text that has inspired critical debate or discussion for an extended period of time. Thus, your critical selections and annotations should be oriented not just towards the topic, but also how this foundational text has helped establish the terms of future discussion and elaboration.

To find examples of arguments and contexts that have influenced criticism of late 18th century British women’s fiction through Austen, you have to read in media res, and hunt through their arguments and their footnotes: contexts could include e.g., feminist social history, history of reading, history of the book , feminist literary criticism, feminist critical theory, adaptation theory.

So by April 11th: 3 annotated secondary sources (either articles, books or book chapters) oriented towards your topic, and ideally focused through the foundational text and the debates it has inspired.

UPDATE: after reading Serena’s excellent post, I realized that I’d made the assignment ambiguous, by asking for three entries, but I always intended the bib to include one foundational text annotated + three annotated entries, for a total of four. Let me know if this is still ambiguous.

We will discuss these at classtime on the 11th.

Thanks, and good luck!


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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