Barbara: The article is 2200 words long. If necessary, eliminate the detail paragraphs set off within parentheses Heyward
Biographical sketch: Heyward Ehrlich is associate professor of English at Rutgers University in Newark. His "Poe Webliography" appeared in Poe Studies in 1999 and is updated regularly online at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/poesites.html . His edition of Poe's reviews and notices in Philadelphia magazines is in preparation for the Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe . Back issues of the regular "Poe in cyberspace" column are available online at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/poe/.
Poe in cyberspace: The commercial online subscription journals
"On the internet," runs the caption of a famous New Yorker cartoon, "no one knows if you're a dog." Some of the most notorious dogs on the internet are those persistent research materials of dubious pedigree. Google-searching may be quick, easy, and habitual, but it has its limits for purposes of serious academic research. One reason is that very few copyrighted books and articles, the foundation of scholarly inquiry, can be found free of charge on the internet. To use the best professional online research tools, eventually either you or your library must pay.
The typical literary researcher of Poe begins a project by making a beeline for the MLA International Bibliography. The online versions gather many annuals, have more ways of searching, and contain more recent material than the printed annuals, which must be inspected as individual volumes. Too often literary researchers stop here, despite a vague awareness that there are other potentially useful online indexes, such as Humanities Abstracts, Art Index, or Philosopher's Index. Unfortunately not all literary researchers are unaware that the university and public libraries may have a treasure chest of additional online tools suitable for Poe research, including America: History and Life; Arts and Humanities Citation Index/Web of Science, Biography and Genealogy Master Index; Books in Print with Reviews; Gale's Ready Reference Shelf; History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Index to 19th-Century American Art Periodicals; JSTOR; Literature Resource Center (Gale); PBS Video Database of America's History and Culture; PCI Full Text; Project MUSE; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times; World Biographical Index; and Women Writers Online.
(In my own school online library I found research tools in the additional fields, such as acronym and abbreviation dictionaries; almanacs, calendars and time; biography; books, book reviews & literary criticism; dictionaries: foreign; encyclopedias; geography; literary criticism; medical and health information; newspapers and current events; patents; religion, philosophy, and mythology; science and technology; style manuals; web general resources; and web searching tools.)
After making a citation list, you must you dive into the library stacks to find the printed journals themselves hoping to find the appropriate volumes and pages. One added difficulty is that many libraries recently have switched a substantial portion of their journal budgets from print editions to online subscriptions, a fact not yet realized by all humanities researchers. Today online scholarly journals are packaged into commercial subscriptions that are sold with strict contractual limitations designed to admit only "authorized users." There are two forms of authorized use: by persons who are physically present in the library and by those who identify themselves when they log on "remotely." If you are new to this, go your library and log on from a computer designated for this purpose. If you belong to a library community as a faculty member or student, ask your local librarian for details on how to reconfigure your computer so you can work as I did in writing this article from home.
An entire family of electronic journal subscriptions can be searched as at once. The simplest form of search will produce an index with abstracts. A more advanced search can specifying what you do and don't want to find and can order the display of the results by date, number of hits, or the original medium. The main limitation of conventional searches, which must be based on descriptors already in the heading or the abstract typically author, title, subject, or keyword does not apply to electronic journal searches, which can be based on any word in the text. Therefore full text searches can retrieve articles which contain only mentions or discussions of Poe even where his name does not appear in the bibliographical descriptors. After the full text is retrievable to your computer screen, you can print it, save it to a file, or e-mail it. The advantage is that electronic articles are never at the local bindery, missing from the shelves, razored out, or in a journal recently canceled by your library. Since "full text retrieval" is relatively new, you may be limited to articles published in the last five years, and you may not be able to see some very recent articles kept under embargo for year or so.
Once find an article of interest , you may be given the option of retrieving it in PDF or HTML format. If you want exact page images, retrieve it in PDF and print it out. To read PDF, first you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you must download once without charge from www.adobe,.com if it is not already on your computer. To work with the text, retrieve it in HTML and read it with your web browser (e.g., Internet Explorer or Netscape), which will support printing, searching, and cut and paste editing. You can also save HTML as a file with markup, or without the HTML codes as plain text. If your setup doesn't allow you to save or print, you may also be able to e-mail the article to yourself. Be warned that if you require critical use of the text, as in genetic studies, don't assume that the PDF images (digital photocopies) are perfectly converted into HTML files (electronic texts) because of very minor limitations in machine-based image-to-text conversions which are typical of large scale projects. Finally, be aware that there are differences in how each of these electronic journal subscriptions work: always consult the local help and advanced search resources for specific instructions and suggestions.
Here are reports on six commercial electronic databases: two that anyone can pay to use, and four that are available only through institutional subscriptions. My test queries were generic, but you should specify your own interests, such as "Poe and cryptography" or "Poe and slavery." Be aware that Poe's name is commonly misspelled (let's hope by the indexers rather than the authors) in a small number of cases: I encountered both Edgar Allen Poe and also Edgar Alan Poe. In addition, if poe proves too hard to use when it comes to local searches of your target text because three-character strings are too short or you get literal hits in poet and poetry try Edgar instead.
1. Northernlight ,www.northernlight.com operates by pay-per-use. (The former fixed monthly subscription via Yahoo, previously featured in this column, is no longer available.) A search for "Edgar Allan Poe" produced 2,419 hits, mostly in newspapers and general magazines. A narrower search in journals of the arts and humanities yielded 623 hits. Three useful items appeared on my first screen: "A Catalogue of Selected Rhetorical Devices Used in the Works of Edgar Allan Poe" in Style (1999) and two reviews of Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses by Terence Whalen, in Studies in Romanticism (2002) and in Mississippi Quarterly (1999). The results can be sorted by date and by type and may be very recent; the display can hold up to 100 hits at once.
2. Elibrary (www.elibrary.com) offers a 7 day free trial, after which a personal monthly subscription is required. but it was annoying not to be able to learn in advance what the fee would be. I limited the output to magazines and books. The research level was elementary: the magazines were of the type used for current news, and the books were encyclopedias and dictionaries for general reference . Up to 150 hits may be displayed at once, but I could not find the total number of hits available.
3. The New York Times from Proquest Historical Newspapers is now available by online subscription as far back as the first issues in 1851. There are three separate domains: current (1999-present), backfile (1986-1998), and deep backfile (before 1986). It is necessary to specify the domain before specifying the subject. In each year typically I found about 100 hits, chiefly mentions of Poe. In my test run I did not bring up results less than two years old.
4. JSTOR is an online subscription database of hundreds of journals in a backfile, generally under embargo for one year or more. (See Project Muse for more recent coverage.) When I selected the three fields of history, language and literature, and philosophy, a wide array of 38 journals became available.
(They were, alphabetically, American Historical Review, American Literature, American Quarterly, Eighteenth-Century Studies, ELH, Ethics, Journal of American History, Journal of Economic History, Journal of Modern History, Journal of Negro History, Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Southern History, Journal of Symbolic Logic, Journal of the History of Ideas, Military Affairs, Mind, MLN, Negro American Literature Forum, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Noûs, Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Renaissance Quarterly, Shakespeare Quarterly, Speculum, Transition, William and Mary Quarterly, Yale French Studies, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Reviews in American History, Studies in the Renaissance, Black American Literature Forum, Modern Language Notes, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Callaloo, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Renaissance News, Representations, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Journal of Military History, African American Review, Philosophical Perspectives, Trollopian, International Journal of Ethics, Journal of the American Military History Foundation, and Journal of the American Military Institute.)
My search for "Edgar Allan Poe" produced 351 items, the most recent being from the year 2000. My first screen of search results included two articles, John Bryant, "Poe's Ape of UnReason: Humor, Ritual, and Culture" in Nineteenth-Century Literature (June, 1996), and Arthur A. Brown, "Literature and the Impossibility of Death: Poe's "Berenice" in Nineteenth-Century Literature (March, 1996), plus Gustavus Sandler's "Louisa May Alcott's Queer Geniuses" American Literature (December, 1999), which presumably contained mentions of Poe . Other items of interest appeared from ELH, Yale French Studies, and African American Review. The screen display is limited to ten items at a time.
5. Project Muse: Project Muse is an online subscription database of about 200 journals. They must be selected in advance by category by title, subject, or collection. After selecting the category of subject and then specifying literature, I was presented with a drop down list of more than a dozen journals.
(They are, alphabetically, American Literary History, American Literary Scholarship, American Literature, Callaloo, Comparative Literature Studies, Criticism, Early American Literature, Literature and Medicine, Journal of American Folklore, Journal of American Folklore, Modern Language Notes, Modern Language Quarterly, and Texas Studies in Language and Literature.)
After selecting American Literature, I found I could access articles which appeared as recently as the September 2002 issue, only two months before my testing date. These pages were available either as HTML (web pages) or in Acrobat (PDF). (Back issues were available through JSTOR.)
6. Academic Search Premier (from EBSCO), this online subscription with the awkward and unfamiliar name contained unexpected riches. Unlike JSTOR and Project Muse, which were online afterthoughts by print publishers, Academic Search Premier was designed from the ground up as an electronic database. It includes 3,200 journals in various fields, most of them embargoed for the current year. My search for "Edgar Allan Poe" produced 386 items, which could be further divided into 61 articles of "criticism & interpretation" from periodicals. The display of up to 10 items may be sorted with the most recent ones first.
The data in each entry followed the same format: title, subject, source, author, abstract, and word count. Here's an example: "Poe,The Daguerreotype, and the Autobiographical Act"; Poe, Edgar Allan; Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, Summer2002, Vol. 25 Issue 3, p477, 16p, 1bw. Hayes, Kevin J.; Abstract: Examines author Edgar Allan Poe's understanding about the relationship between writing and personal image. Poe's ideal magazine; Importance of illustrations to literary biography; Poe's thoughts on daguerreotype and engraved portraiture; Word Count: 6544. (Ten items which came up in my first search were Paul Christian Jones, "The Danger of Sympathy: Edgar Allan Poe's `Hop-Frog' and the Abolitionist Rhetoric of Phatos," in Journal of American Studies, Aug 2001, 16p; Christopher Peterson, "Possessed by Poe: Reading Poe in an Age of Intellectual Guilt" in Cultural Values, Apr 2001; Stephen Dougherty, "Foucault in the House of Usher: Some Historical Permutations in Poe's Gothic," in Papers on Language & Literature, Winter 2001, 22p; Doug Boulter, "'Lines on Ale': A Covert Action in the Longfellow War?" in ANQ, Winter 2001, 6p; William Brevda, "Search for the Originary Sign of Noir: Poe's 'The Man of the Crowd'" in Mythosphere, Nov 2000, 11p; Peter Taylor, "Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" in Explicator, Fall 2000, 3p; Jorie Graham, "Edgar Alan [sic] Poe's `The Raven'" in Paris Review, Spring 2000, 6p; Carrie Zlotnick-Woldenberg, "Edgar Allan Poe's `Ligeia': An Object-Relational Interpretation" in American Journal of Psychotherapy, Summer 1999, 10p; and Harriet Hustis,"Poe's 'The Cast of Amontillado'"in Studies in American Fiction, Spring 1999, 18p.)