The two most heavily revised sections of the sixth edition of the MLA Handbook area those devoted to plagiarism and to the citation of electronic materials -- both cyberspace issues. It seems odd that, despite the blessings of both the MLA Handbook and the MLA Style Manual, few Poe critics and scholars take advantage of opportunities for electronic research. Virtually every scholar I know does internet searching and online reading, yet very few acknowledge that debt in print, just as Renaissance and Modern painters furtively used the camera obscura and later chemical photography. Yet it is legitimate to be concerned about the quality and reliability of electronic materials. As this column will attempt to show, electronic research tools can be as useful as those of printed research. Electronic citations, incidentally, are stronger than their printed counterparts: electronic citations should include everything in printed citations and, in addition, descriptions of how the materials were accessed (for example, through a library database or a web page) and when the date of access occurred.
If you have never seriously done electronic research, the place to begin, perhaps surprising, is your local research library. Many university and local libraries subscribe to expensive and enormously valuable electronic databases. Start by finding out what you are entitled to use as a member of an academic or local community. Professional databases are designed for researchers who already know how to use print tools for research -- skills increasingly rare among undergraduate students today. The electronic databases come in two types: indexes and full text.
The best known index database for literary study is, of course, the MLA International Bibliography (1963-- ). One search of the electronic version can go back forty years and cover items as recent as those that appeared last month; in addition, one search can include all the domains covered in the several, separate MLA printed bibliographies as well as explore all fields at once by a single keyword. An additional literary index database worth keeping in mind is the Humanities Abstracts (1983 ), which covers about 300 journals.
Full text databases
However, no library can possess every item found in an MLA search. This is where the full text database comes into its own. These databases bring to the computer screen full texts of selected scholarly articles. Three of the full text databases deserve special mention.
Academic Search Premier (1984-- or earlier) covers more than 3,000 scholarly journals; in many cases the complete articles are available in both HTML and PDF format. HTML format means web page format; such pages can be saved either as web pages or as plain text. For most purposes plain text is more convenient since it removes the HTML encoding. PDF format (requiring Acrobat, a free download from http://www.adobe.com) preserves the full appearance of the original pages but may be more difficult to use.
Jstor maintains an electronic backfile of journals by subject area.. When I selected the three subject fields of history, language and literature, and philosophy, 38 journals became available, including African American Review, American Historical Review, American Literature, American Quarterly, Black American Literature Forum, Callaloo, Eighteenth-Century Studies, ELH, Ethics, International Journal of EthicsJournal of American 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, Mind, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Modern Language Notes (MLN), Negro American Literature Forum, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Perspectives, Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Renaissance News, Renaissance Quarterly, Representations, Reviews in American History, Shakespeare Quarterly, Speculum, Studies in the Renaissance, Transition, Trollopian, William and Mary Quarterly, and Yale French Studies.
Project Muse, a venture of Johns Hopkins Press, offers more than 100 scholarly journals. The literary journals include 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.) Muse articles can be accessed directly from some university on-line catalogues.
The advantage of full text databases is that searching them can locate even passing references in the text. If the electronic database has your text it will never be at the bindery, not yet in circulation, or inexplicably mutilated, all tangible risks in locating print articles. Some electonic publishers still embargo their online full text articles for a period of months or even so as not to compete with the printed versions.
The Two Poe Journals
Articles in both of the leading specialist journals on Poe are beginning to appear on line. About 15 articles or reviews from back issues of Poe Studies/Dark Romanticism are now available online from its web site at http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~english/PoeStudies.html. In addition, the first twelve volumes of Poe Studies/Dark Romanticism (formerly Poe Newsletter, 1968 - 1970, vols .1-3, and then Poe Studies. 1971 - 1985, vols .4-12) have been re-issued electronically at www.eapoe.org/pstudies/index.htm. Similarly, issues for the period 1985-2000, vols. 13-27. of The Edgar Allan Poe Review, (formerly the Poe Association Newsletter, 1972-1999 ) are available online at http://www.an.psu.edu/PSA/PSANewsletter.html .
Online Bibliographies of Print Resources:
The most extensive online bibliography devoted to Poe in print is published by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) in "A Checklist of Scholarship on Southern Literature." This work, available at http://www.missq.msstate.edu/sssl/view.php?wid=26 , contains an extensive collection of 1261 items, which may be arranged by writer (top authors: Burton R. Pollin, 102; J. Lasley Dameron, 19; Kent Ljungquist, 19), by publication (top journals: Poe Studies, 246, Studies in Short Fiction 56, ESQ, 42), or by date (top decades: 1970s, 441; 1980s, 424; 1990s, 271).
Research Guide to Edgar Allan Poe: http://www.wcsu.ctstateu.edu/library/gd_poe.html A useful survey of Poe and general research and reference resources prepared by the Western Connecticut State University library.
Recommended Web Pages
The Poe Society of Baltimore http://www.eapoe.org The most important all-around Poe web page for research with period editions and textual variants in authenticated versions. See instructions for searching the site through Google.
The Making of America - Michigan: http://www.umdl.umich.edu/moa/ A remarkable database of more than eleven thousand nineteenth century books and journal volumes. A search for "Poe" produces hits in 4,922 full texts; for "Edgar Allan Poe," 229 full texts. It is also possible to undertake boolean searches for such targets as "Poe and Griswold" (87 hits) or "Poe and Lowell" (109 hits), all of which can be further refined .
Voice of the Shuttle (Alan Liu). The most important and extensive general Web guide to literary and humanistic research, including links to sites for e-texts, theory, criticism, and syllabi, classified by nationality, period, author, genre, and special topics. Try jumping directly to the Poe shortcut at http://vos.ucsb.edu/browse.asp?id=802. If that does not work, enter at the top level at http://vos.ucsb.edu/, first click on "Literature in English," then click on "American Literature," and finally scroll down to "Poe."
Jack Lynch Literary Resources: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Lit/american.html An excellent selective starting point for literary research, including a compendium of other scholarly sites and materials and featuring an ongoing list of calls for papers. Scroll down to Poe.
A Poe Webliography: My own page, synchronized linked to a 1999 Poe Studies article http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/poesites.html, still contains useful links and annotations.
Editions and E-Texts:
Tales (Wiley & Putnam, 1845): http://metalab.unc.edu/docsouth/poe/poe.html An electronic edition of Poe's Tales (1845) in A Digitized Library of Southern Literature: Beginnings to 1920, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Early American Fiction: Edgar Allan Poe: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/eaf/authors/first/eap.html Edited texts of Arthur Gordon Pym, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and Tales (1845) on commercial CD-ROM. The page has links to other Poe texts publicly available at Virginia.
IPL: Internet Public Library: Index to Online Books: The IPL Books Collection (formerly Online Books) of some twenty thousand texts is being reorganized. Try the shortcut at http://readroom.ipl.org/cgi/i/ipl/ipl.books-idx.pl?type=browseauthor&q1=P and scroll down to Poe. If that does not work, start at http://www.ipl.org/reading/books/ and work through the menus. There are links to 61 Poe e- texts in the www.ipl.org archive.
The Online Books Page: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/ Start at http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/authorstart?P and scroll down (be patient!) to Poe. About 25 links to texts and a few annotated hypertext editions, at other Poe sites, including The Poe Society of Baltimore, Project Gutenberg, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina.
E-server: The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe at http://www.eserver.org/books/poe/. Not really complete, being based on the two-volume Borzoi edition.
The Internet Public Library: Literary Criticism: Poe contains a few dozen Poe criticisms, with annotations, useful as introduction for undergraduates.: http://www.ipl.org/cgi-bin/ref/litcrit/litcrit.out.pl?au=poe-10
Course Projects and Syllabi:
Perspectives on American Literature (Paul R. Reuben): http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap3/poe.html An ongoing class project with an online bibliography, list of scholarly articles, and several short biographies by students, part of the "PAL: Perspectives on American Literature" site.
Prof. Donna Campbell's English 311: http://www.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/ A rich source for American authors, literary movements, a timeline, and links to other sites. In addition, http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl311/poenotes.html contains brief lecture notes on Poe with links to related courses.
Medical Humanities: Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database: http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/topview.html
The 51st edition, dated October 2003, has entries on medical issues in ten of Poe's works at http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/webdocs/webauthors/poe265-au-.html.
Note: This article is available online at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/poe/.
Department of English
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