The Annotated Bibliography



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The Annotated Bibliography

  • Quickchat with colleague:
  • What do you already know about writing a research paper?
  • What do you already know about bibliographies/works cited?

What is a Bibliography?

  • A works cited list that gives credit to sources used to justify your arguments.
  • Also, a way to prevent the horrors of plagiarism.

What is an Annotation?

  • An Annotation is a commentary a reader makes after critically reading an informative source. It can include a summary of the reading, the reader’s response to the reading, and/or questions/comments addressing the article’s clarity, purpose, or effectiveness.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • An Annotated Bibliography is a list of bibliographic citations that includes a descriptive and evaluative paragraph of each citation.
  • Its overall purpose is to support your study of a particular subject by providing a collection of succinct article summaries that will negate the need for rereading of an article.
  • It is the “researching” process for collegiate writing. Often, papers will require one.

College Classes/Majors that Require Annotated Bibliographies:

  • All of them

Where do I start?

  • Determine your subject/topic
    • Our assignment requires you to select and consider a particular novel/play that has been cited on the AP Literature open-ended prompt list
  • Consider an aspect of the book that you’re interested in
  • Develop a good research question to which your thesis statement would serve as the “answer”

Looking for scholarly articles

  • Consider the different directions and dimensions of your research topic. Find relevant articles that provide information that could lead you to developing a thesis statement.
  • Begin by critically reading the article. View the reading as an interactive process in which your interpretation of author’s words is influenced by your own knowledge and experiences.
  • Critical readers attempt to dialogue with the text by asking tough questions on the article’s purpose, audience, language and content.

Questions to ask about an article

  • Who is the author? Her/his credentials?, biases?
  • Where is the article published? What type of journal is it? What is the audience?
  • What do I know about the topic? Am I open to new ideas?
  • Why was the article written? What is its purpose?
  • What is the author’s thesis? The major supporting points or assertions?

Questions to ask about an article

  • Did the author support his/her thesis/assertions?
  • Did the article achieve its purpose?
  • Were the supporting sources credible?
  • Did the article change my viewpoint on the topic?
  • Was the article convincing? What new information or ideas do I accept or reject?
  • What evidence was provided in support of the thesis?

Sample Articles: http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/

Writing the Annotation

  • A strong annotation contains:
  • A summary of the article and connections with your intended topic of study (thesis statement)
  • Your response to the article
  • Inclusion of relevant and significant quotations
  • Questions connecting the article and your knowledge and experience.

The Summary Section/Paragraph

  • Begin by succinctly stating the article’s thesis and major points.
  • Describe/define key points and how they are connected or substantiated.
  • Describe the usefulness and the limitations of the article
  • Limit in length to 3-4 grammatically correct sentences

The Response and Connections Section/Paragraph

  • Describe the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the citation and its conclusions.
  • Document your response to the author’s ideas, argument, writing style or any other notable aspect of the article.
  • Consider how the article supports, refutes, or questions your thesis statement.

Quotation

  • Directly cite or paraphrase interesting or meaningful quotations from the article you wish to remember.
    • These would be quotations that could be particularly helpful in an essay.
  • The usefulness of the quotation should be evident from its content.
  • Be sure to note the page number of the quotation or paraphrase for later referencing.

Useful Directions to Pursue

  • The purpose of the work
  • A summary of its content
  • For what type of audience the work is written
  • Its relevance to your topic
  • Any special or unique features about the material
  • The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Creating the Annotated Bib

  • Start with the citation written in MLA style
  • Pay attention to the details of a bib citation:
    • Capitalization
    • Punctuation
    • Use of italics

The Annotation

  • Summarize each article’s central thesis and respond critically to the major points supporting the thesis.
  • Quotations – generally 2-3 quotes/article. Include page numbers (or paragraphs) with the quotation.
  • Your analysis should select the relevant arguments presented in the article to your thesis statement.

Use the Annotation/suggestions

  • Attach a copy of your annotation to the article you are annotating. Add comments as you reflect on its content. Start an alphabetical file of your annotated articles.
  • Use notes to track and save the information you find in your articles
  • This would be the last step before planning your paper (which we won’t write for this project)

Sample Annotation from Literature

  • Lackey, Michael. "Moral Conditions for Genocide in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness1." Gale Student Resources in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Student Resources in Context. Web. 6 Jan. 2015. This source discusses, as the title infers, the moral conditions for genocide in Heart of Darkness. Lackey suggests that there is a “conceptual gap” (para. 5) in Kurtz’s seventeen-page report to the Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. Lackey references an idea from Peter Edgerly Firchow’s book on heart of darkness that suggests that “there exist two Kurtzes” (para. 7). One, expressed in the beginning of the report, represents the initial state European imperialism, while the other, seen in the postscript, represents the “moral degeneration” of imperialism, similar to that apparent in Kurtz’s madness. This contradiction, Lackey argues, criticizes the deteriorating and unstable condition of European colonies in Africa compared to the ideal. Ultimately, Lackey argues, it is this instability in the character of Kurtz that serves to represent the true hypocrisy of European colonization.

Sample Annotation from Literature

  • Lackey, Michael. "Moral Conditions for Genocide in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness1." Gale Student Resources in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Student Resources in Context. Web. 6 Jan. 2015. This source discusses, as the title infers, the moral conditions for genocide in Heart of Darkness. Lackey suggests that there is a “conceptual gap” (para. 5) in Kurtz’s seventeen-page report to the Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. Lackey references an idea from Peter Edgerly Firchow’s book on heart of darkness that suggests that “there exist two Kurtzes” (para. 7). One, expressed in the beginning of the report, represents the initial state European imperialism, while the other, seen in the postscript, represents the “moral degeneration” of imperialism, similar to that apparent in Kurtz’s madness. This contradiction, Lackey argues, criticizes the deteriorating and unstable condition of European colonies in Africa compared to the ideal. Ultimately, Lackey argues, it is this instability in the character of Kurtz that serves to represent the true hypocrisy of European colonization.
  • CITATION SUMMARY ANALYSIS/CONNECTION

The Thesis Statement

  • A thesis statement is NOT a statement of accepted fact; it is the position that needs the proof you will provide in your annotations. Think of it as a claim—it indicates what you claim to be interesting or valuable about your subject. It is an interpretation of your subject, rather than the subject itself.
  • Just as important as what you’re arguing is the question: How are you arguing? In other words, how are all the pieces of information that you have gathered related? Choose the most effective approach.
  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Return to your research to make sure that your argument has “legs” on which to stand.
  • Consider starting by searching for the work as well as a literary critical theory. ie: Marxism in Brave New World; Feminist Theory and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Historical Science and Frankenstein

The Thesis Statement

  • This assignment is not designed for a poetry or prose analysis
    • (you’ll have few of those in college)
  • So, don’t include literary devices in your thesis statement.
  • Focus on the overall meaning and how different elements of the novel/play reinforce a theme, critique, or problem posed by the text

The Thesis Statement

  • Avoid vague qualifiers such as interesting, important, and unusual. Instead, seek sharp, meaningful words that increase clarity.
  • Do not use me, my, mine, I, you, thesis, paper, or essay in your thesis statement (or annotations!). Let your important conclusion about your research speak for itself!
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus or “road map” for your argument.
  • You may revise your thesis statement as you write your bibliography. The important thing is for your thesis to identify the purpose of your research and for each annotation to relate back to your thesis.

Thesis Statement Checklist – SOIDS! (I tried…)

  • Specific – Addresses particular aspects of the text. Makes a clear claim. Not general or vague.
  • Organized – Should have clear organizational structure that addresses parts of the text
  • Inferential – Addresses some greater meaning or argument about a non-obvious or non-literal meaning of the whole text; uses inference
  • Debatable – Should be able to disagree with your claim
  • So what? – Addresses a meaningful meaning and sets up the thesis to have an actual impact on how we read and interpret the text

Some Interesting Angles to Take

  • Posing a problem for interpretation
    • The lack of independence and depth to The Great Gatsby’s female characters signals a significant issue to the text, namely that…
  • Disagreeing with another scholar’s opinion
    • Although critic Robert Stallworth has argued against biographical criticism in Fitzgerald’s work, the parallels between the novelist’s life and work suggests…
  • Viewing the work through a certain critical lens
    • When considered from a Marxist approach, The Great Gatsby exposes underlying arguments about…
  • Outlining a debate and taking a side
    • Scholars seem to disagree on the extent of racism present in The Great Gatsby, but consideration of XYZ leads readers to believe that the work fails to advocate for…

Sample Thesis Statements from Previous Years

  • Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables provides a realistic depiction of social and economic life in the lower classes and the injustices they endured because of the corrupt French monarchy. By favoring the poverty-ridden French citizens with protagonists and sympathetic characters instead of the antagonist French aristocracy, Hugo belies the hypocritical and oppressive Napoleonic government.
  • That The Great Gatsby critiques the possibility of the American ideal is undeniable; however, the root of this is found in the flaws of the characters’ class structures, as opposed to in Fitzgerald’s treatment of race, as many recent critics assert.
  • Although F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the idealistic Gatsby as an allegory to the sacrifice and esteem of The Passion of Christ, and the American Dream is a phenomenon of insatiable desire, the actual role that Jay Gatsby assumes is one as a false prophet of this enticing Utopia.

Super Thesis!

  • Although A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man establishes antihero Stephen Dedalus as his own independent character, similarities between the life and beliefs of Joyce and his protagonist, supplemented by Joyce’s use of free indirect speech and the meandering construction of his Bildungsroman, hold Dedalus and his author to be metaphysically conjoined, divorced by fictional disjoint yet perennially married in spirit. Interpretation of Dedalus’ character, therefore, cannot be properly accomplished without an appreciation for the political, social, and religious environment in which Joyce cultivated his own beliefs.

What does this have to do with us?

  • You will be preparing an annotated bibliography to fulfill your research requirement for English IV.
  • You must use 5 sources from literary critical articles found in academic sources.
  • DO NOT use articles that simply summarize. They must have an argument about how to interpret the text.
  • These articles will form the evidence for your own thesis about one of the major works we have encountered so far.

Steps to Writing a Researched Literary Analysis and Annotated Bibliography

  • 1. Read, consider, and discuss primary text.
  • 2. Inventory your own ideas about the text. Begin thinking about what you have to argue about it.
  • 3. Perform a cursory review of what scholars have to say about the text. Consider your various critical theories to develop an argument.
  • 4. Formulate a research question about the text. Let this guide you to your thesis. Do more research to answer the research question (RQ)
  • 5. Formulate a thesis statement that is specific, debatable, and provable. This thesis statement should be the answer to your RQ.
  • 6. Find sources that are relevant to your thesis statement. They should in some way address your topic.
  • 7. Critically skim the article and find sections that may be useful in either supporting or refuting your thesis.
  • 8. Catalogue and inventory scholars’ opinions in paraphrased notes or direct quotations.
  • 9. Write the citation in proper format.
  • 10.Justify how the source addresses your thesis statement. Be specific as to how it supports, refutes, or questions your thesis.

Let’s run through an example of how to complete this process effectively.

  • We’ve already read and carefully considered Heart of Darkness.
  • We’ve already skimmed some critical articles and we’re interested in a historicist connection with imperialism.
  • We’ve already drafted a strong thesis statement that goes something like this:
    • Conrad’s Heart of Darkness prevents not a racist configuration of the African continent, but rather a xenophobic fear of “the Other” that stands in conflict with European economic and political interests.

Hmm… This looks like a good source. Let’s first skim the article carefully.

An Example – The Source – Pick out important details to support thesis statement.

  • “Conrad shows the impasse that English liberal nationalism has reached as it confronts the results of imperialism and social Darwinism. Marlow's perplexity suggests that English liberalism cannot offer an adequate account of the role of cultural differences in shaping political beliefs. Marlow senses the threat posed to his Victorian English liberal values, his ethos, by both the Company's vulgar materialism and Kurtz's unworldly idealism. He rejects the Doctor's biological theory of national character, but he cannot hold out for long against Kurtz's appeals to "moral ideas" (p. 33),laden as they are with claims on Marlow's English sympathies. In the Congo Marlow faces a "choice of nightmares," and he chooses Kurtz, although he cannot say why.”

The difficulty is that even the best-willed imperialists seem condemned to apply their own ethnocentric standards to the societies they encounter, and Conrad seems to find little reason to trust that even the most noble sounding of these standards-"humanity, decency and justice”-can really be applied impartially except, perhaps, within the context of a nation-state as fortunate as Conrad seems to believe England has been in the history of its constitutional arrangements and the development of its civil society. Even among this happy breed of men it may be that the ideals of neutral justice, rule of law, and universal standards of right conduct are little more than the totems of a particularly successful cult whose time is running out. At any rate, Conrad would like to believe that he, a stateless Pole, has successfully become an Englishman, but in Heart of Darkness he expresses a profound skepticism about whether Africans or even Belgians and Frenchmen-can do the same. For this reason, if for no other, Conrad's "national idea" has no future.

  • The difficulty is that even the best-willed imperialists seem condemned to apply their own ethnocentric standards to the societies they encounter, and Conrad seems to find little reason to trust that even the most noble sounding of these standards-"humanity, decency and justice”-can really be applied impartially except, perhaps, within the context of a nation-state as fortunate as Conrad seems to believe England has been in the history of its constitutional arrangements and the development of its civil society. Even among this happy breed of men it may be that the ideals of neutral justice, rule of law, and universal standards of right conduct are little more than the totems of a particularly successful cult whose time is running out. At any rate, Conrad would like to believe that he, a stateless Pole, has successfully become an Englishman, but in Heart of Darkness he expresses a profound skepticism about whether Africans or even Belgians and Frenchmen-can do the same. For this reason, if for no other, Conrad's "national idea" has no future.
  • These seem like good passages that add to my thesis. I can either quote them directly or paraphrase. Both require a parenthetical citation, though.

Lewis, Pericles. "His Sympathies Were in the Right Place": Heart of Darkness and the Discourse of National Character. Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 53, No. 2. (Sep., 1998), pp. 211-244. This scholarly article found in the journal Nineteenth Century Literature offers critical insight into the psychological and political beliefs of the novel’s narrator, Marlow. Lewis argues that although Marlow is English, his attitudes seem to reflect the historically-based collective identity of Europe during imperial periods. While Marlow does consider human rights to exist, he does so “only within the context of a nation-state as fortunate [as England]” (para. 6). In presenting the problem of man’s inhumanity to man, Lewis’s article provides an important argument about the justification for imperialism. While race certainly complicates the power imbalance in Conrad’s novel, the spread of empire, nationalism, and the idea of manifest destiny in Africa serve as the rationale for the cruelty Marlow witnesses. This xenophobia, Lewis asserts with aid from plentiful historical sources, controls more of the narrative than racist beliefs.

  • Lewis, Pericles. "His Sympathies Were in the Right Place": Heart of Darkness and the Discourse of National Character. Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 53, No. 2. (Sep., 1998), pp. 211-244. This scholarly article found in the journal Nineteenth Century Literature offers critical insight into the psychological and political beliefs of the novel’s narrator, Marlow. Lewis argues that although Marlow is English, his attitudes seem to reflect the historically-based collective identity of Europe during imperial periods. While Marlow does consider human rights to exist, he does so “only within the context of a nation-state as fortunate [as England]” (para. 6). In presenting the problem of man’s inhumanity to man, Lewis’s article provides an important argument about the justification for imperialism. While race certainly complicates the power imbalance in Conrad’s novel, the spread of empire, nationalism, and the idea of manifest destiny in Africa serve as the rationale for the cruelty Marlow witnesses. This xenophobia, Lewis asserts with aid from plentiful historical sources, controls more of the narrative than racist beliefs.
  • CITATION SUMMARY INTEGRATED QUOTE CONNECTION/ EVALUATION

Annotated Bibliography Powerpoint Bibliography

  • Engle, M., Blumenthal, A., & Cosgrave, T. (2002, November 20). How to prepare an annotated bibliography. Retrieved February 7, 2003, from Cornell University Library, Reference Department Web site: http://www.library.cornell.edu/okuref/research/skill28.htm
  • Meleis, A. L. (1991). Theoretical nursing (2nd ed.). Philadelphia : Lippincott.
  • Wilhoit, S. (2001). A brief guide to writing from readings. Needham Heights. MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Williams, O. Writing an annotated bibliography. Retrieved February 7, 2003 from University of Minnesota, Crookston Library Web site: http://www.crk.umn.edu/library/links/annotate.htm

Another Example from Economics

  • Breeding evil. (2005, August 6). Economist, 376(8438), 9. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com.
  • This editorial from the Economist describes the controversy surrounding video games and the effect they have on people who use them. The article points out that most critics of gaming are people over 40 and it is an issue of age not of the games themselves. While the author briefly mentions studies done around the issue of violence and gaming, he does not go into enough depth for the reader to truly know the range of studies that have actually been done in this area, other than to take his word that the research is unsatisfactory. The author of this article stresses the age factor over violence as the real reason for opposition to video games and stresses the good gaming has done in most areas of human life. This article is a useful resource for those wanting to begin to explore the controversy surrounding video games, however for anyone doing serious research, one should actually examine some of the research studies that have been done in this area rather than simply take the author's word that opposition to video games is simply due to an issue of generational divide.

Sample Annotation

  • Said, Edward W. “The World, the Text, and the Critic.” The World, The Text and the Critic. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983. 31-53. Said argues that texts are “enmeshed in circumstance, time, place, and society” (35) and that language, or a text, has a specific situation.(35) This conclusion means that texts do not have limitless interpretations (39). One other interesting point Said makes is that discourse is not a democratic exchange as some describe it. Rather, “texts are fundamentally facts of power, not of democratic exchange”; discourse is “usually like the unequal relation between colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed” (45,48). Words are a part of the world and so are associated with power, authority and force. As an example, Said uses the exchange between Stephen Dedalus and the dean of students. Their worldliness means texts are representative of the reigning institutions; critics’ jobs should be to expos[e] things that otherwise lie hidden beneath piety, heedlessness, or routine” (53).


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