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Resources for Study

You can do a great deal of your preparation for seminars and essay writing by using internet data-bases and collections of books. The full text of pre-1800 novels will be found in EEBO (Early Modern Books on Line) [EBBO campus access] and ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections on Line) [ECCO campus access ]. These are very valuable resources. They allow you to track the publication history of books, and, by using full-text searching, to begin to assess reader response to certain novels. You should become familiar with LION (Literature on Line) which will allow you to search literary texts in English by phrase, keyword and genre. The MLA Index (Modern Languages Association of America) is the major data-base of publications in literary studies. You should check it regularly to find the latest criticism on the novels you are reading. You may also find scholarly discussion of the novel, and of the history of literacy and reading in Historical Abstracts; you want to be particularly alert to the ways in which historians discuss and use novels. Also get into the habit of running the names of authors through the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on-line. Other national dictionaries of biography and Dictionaries of Authors can often be located by simply searching the internet with the name of the writer you are interested in. Make it a habit to regularly check the Royal Historical Society Bibliography to discover publications on the novel, novel writers, and readers. The Reading Experience Database 1450‑1945 (RED) is also a useful resource.

 

Keep an eye on discussions at http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/N/novel/index.html. `The Story of the Novel’ was first broadcast on Channel 4 in June 2007. The website promises on-going discussion of the novel, past, present and future. It contains a useful glossary of literary terms and a time-line of developments in the novel form. (Be warned: I shall know if you use its `Bluffer’s Guide’ in essays.)

 

Find http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2109130,00.html

which is the on-line version of an article published in the Saturday Review section of the Guardian on 23rd June 2007. Well-known novelists describe the memorable novels they have read whilst travelling. You may be able to use these accounts as a model for writing about your own experience of reading, along with those provided by Francis Spufford in The Child the Books Built, and by Alberto Manguel in the first and last chapters of A History of Reading. (See Bibliography.)

 

Become familiar with various dictionaries and glossaries of literary terms, and dictionaries of social thought and ideas. You will often want to know what a critic or a literary theorist means by `Romanticism’, `point-of-view’, `voice’, `character’ (the list is endless) and I particularly recommend M. H. Abrams’ Glossary f Literary Terms (most recent edition). Some of his definitions have been extracted and are easy to find on-line. The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought is invaluable for defining all manner of modern concept and idea.

 

Listen to the radio and read the newspapers. Radio 4 broadcasts frequent reviews and discussions of the novel (`Front Row’, `Saturday Review’, `In Our Time’, `A Good Read’, `Radio 4 Bookclub’). The broadsheet Sunday review sections will help you keep up with recent publications. John Mullan’s column, the `Guardian Book Clubin the Saturday edition of the paper is revealing of how modern readers are `taught’ to read novels. Make it a habit to look through The Times Literary Supplement (weekly) and the London Review of Books (fortnightly) for reviews of novels when you visit the Library.