Due to a personal matter to which she must attend, Shazia will not be able to post questions for today’s class. Therefore, I have decided to use the post to suggest some resources that you might use to familiarize yourself with scholarship on Early American literature. Suppose, for example, that you want to identify the important biographies of John Smith and Mary Rowlandson? What are the first resources that you should check? You must be on campus or using VPN or OhioLink Authentication. They are the following:
- Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB): It has entries on Smith and Rowlandson. The volume entitled American Colonial Writers, 1606-1734 (Detroit: Gale, 1984) has a 4-page entry on Smith. The same volume has an entry on Mary Rowlandson, and another volume, American Women Prose Writers to 1820 (Detroit: Gale, 1999) has a newer entry on Rowlandson.
- As the DLB entries are a bit dated, over a decade old, you should also check Oxford University’s American National Biography (ANB). In that volume, the Rowlandson entry by Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola (2000) helpfully provides a list of the most important critical books and articles, including Mitchell Robert Breitwieser, American Puritanism and the Defense of Mourning: Religion, Grief, and Ethnology in Mary White Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative (1990), Derounian-Stodola’s own “Puritan Orthodoxy and the `Survivor Syndrome’ in Mary Rowlandson’s Indian Captivity Narrative” Early American Literature 22 (1987): 82-93, as well as others. According to the ANB article on Smith, by Karen Ordahl Kupperman, “John Smith’s writings are collected in The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, ed. Philip L. Barbour (3 vols., 1986), which includes an extensive bibliography [....] The best modern biography is Philip L. Barbour, The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith (1964); the introduction to Barbour’s edition of Smith’s works presents information discovered since 1964.”
- As we are reading colonial English writers, we should also check the premiere resource on British persons, Oxford’s Dictionary of National Biography. On Rowlandson, the Oxford DNB adds little (many of same resources as DLB), but it does bring date up to 2004, so we can be fairly confident we have most recent and authoritative biographical sources, as of 2002 or 2003. Likewise, the entry on John Smith adds a perhaps a few useful sources but mostly repeats DLB.
We may need to do more on biography, to get up to date, beyond 2002, but we may also wish to take a look at publication history of John Smith’s General Historie and Mary Rowlandson’s Sovereignty and Goodness of God. For that, we need to go to a premier resource for Early English Books, known, appropriately, as Early English Books Online. At this web site (on campus, VPN or OhioLink Authentication still needed), one can browse a facsimile of two early editions of Rowlandson’s narrative, one entitled The soveraignty & goodness of God and the other entitled A true history of the captivity & restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Here’s a thought, do the titles matter? There too, there being EEBO, one can also see that while the editions of Rowlandson’s narrative are only 2, the Narratives of John Smith about Virginia are many. So we can suspect (with justice) that his narrative, an advertisement and a spur to trade, was much more popular than hers, regardless of whether hers was read as a religious tract (Sovereignty and Goodness [Boston, MA]) or a captivity tale (True History [London]). Does place of publication matter? Note that EEBO refers you to catalogs like Wing and Evans with numbers. You refer to early editions by Wing, Evans, etc. reference numbers.
Now that we’ve done the basic work of author biography and publication history, let’s move on to interpretation. As it’s just for a class, we don’t have time to sift through all the early work. And besides, ANB and DLB and DNB have sifted through the pre-1990 stuff for us. Our job, now that we move on to general purpose searches, is to sift through the more recent stuff. I’ll stick with Rowlandson, who seems more trendy. We begin with the following two:
OK, so I do a subject search on Mary Rowlandson with years set as 2002-2011. Of the 11 results, these seem the most promising.
I’ll copy them to Zotero and them export them as HTML.
And then another search in ABELL. By the way, while in general MLAIB and ABELL complement one another, MLAIB in recent years has been seriously out-classing ABELL on the matter of keeping up with new resources. Nonetheless, it is always useful as it casts a broader net than MLIAB. Choose any area that interests you. For example, I’m a textual scholar, so I’m always interested in histories of publication, reception, and usages of scripture, etc. So I think I might begin with these, which I exported into RefWorks and then exported from RefWorks into HMTL. And here’s my list:
Derounian, Kathryn Zabelle. "The Publication, Promotion, and Distribution of Mary Rowlandson's Indian Captivity Narrative in the Seventeenth Century." Early American Literature (1988). Print.
Derounian-Stodola, Kathryn. "The Indian Captivity Narratives of Mary Rowlandson and Olive Oatman: Case Studies in the Continuity, Evolution, and Exploitation of Literary Discourse." Studies in the Literary Imagination (1994). Print.
Diebold, Robert Kent. "A Critical Edition of Mrs Mary Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative." Dissertation Abstracts International (1972). Print.
Downing, David. ""Streams of Scripture Comfort": Mary Rowlandson's Typological use of the Bible." Early American Literature (1980). Print.
Henwood, Dawn. "Mary Rowlandson and the Psalms: The Textuality of Survival." Early American Literature (1997). Print.
Kestler, Frances Roe. "Mary White Rowlandson: The Significance of Her Narrative in American Literature." Dissertation Abstracts International (1982). Print.
The overall purpose of this exercise is to show you how you might begin a research process on one of these authors. I have done the basics for Rowlandson, enough for class, and could pick four or five to read, whichever are accessible, but if I wanted to go a little further, to write a scholarly article, it would be important for me also to check the following resources.
- Surveys that separate wheat from chaff in American Literary Scholarship, in Year’s Work in English Studies In general, the very earliest work in American literature will be found in sections with labels like pre-1900 American literature or early modern, which will have a transatlantic focus. When studying, you want to have a broader sense of the field field. As we move forward, to nineteenth century, it is more likely to have a designated section.
- And the recent articles in important journals (use library’s “Journal Finder“: Early American Literature, etc. A reasonably full list is provided at the Society of Early Americanists, and you can review the emphasis of these titles in the MLA Directory of Peirodicals .
- Also, check Dissertation Abstracts International for what’s coming in next half-decade or so.
Our next task is to start working our way through this stuff, with the following steps:
- Books. Search on KentLinks, main library site. Make list to pick up by catalog number, Request if checked out, or order through OhioLink (if not available at Kent). If not available in Ohio, use InterLibrary Loan to order.
- Using Journal Finder, locate articles by journal title. Either download through external sources, go to library to check out, or order through ILL.
- As you find new items in your reading, stuff that you sense could be important, repeat.