>Hey all you literature types, across the historical spectrum, I need your help.
In my ‘intro to grad school and literary research’ class in the fall, I want to do a couple of practical and analytical assignments focused on journal articles. Indeed, the central theme for the class is the journal article — what it does, what it’s for, who reads and writes one, how to model graduate level papers on one, what rhetorical moves it makes, etc.
I could choose a handful of articles from medieval and early modern studies that I know, but that might get kind of dull, especially if we revisit the same articles over the course of the semester. I’d rather have a small collection of articles from across English and American literary studies, even if it means new reading for me. At least that will keep things interesting and allow me to make different assignments with different articles, and allow students some variety in their choices.
So here’s where I’m asking for your assistance, oh wise and learned readers. Help me put together a collection of journal articles that I can use again and again in my intro to literary research class. Here are the criteria:
- I prefer more recent articles (last 10-15 years, depending on how fast your field moves), but “classic” articles that everyone still cites and that are still part of the conventional wisdom are good, too.
- The literary text(s) addressed should be commonly anthologized, taught, and read works — not just from a specialist point of view, but from a generalist one. That way, if the student hasn’t read it, at least they’ll recognize it and likely recognize that they should read it.
- For example, in late medieval, I’d likely go for an article on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight over Sir Orfeo, and definitely over Havelok the Dane, as much as I love them all (and might teach all in a medieval lit. class). Or in Shakespeare, I’d choose Hamlet over Titus Andronicus, even though, like Bardiac, I find the latter utterly fascinating.
- The articles should be, on some level, “must read” works. Either they’ve been greatly influential, or you think they exemplify the best in a lucid and persuasive argument, or you think they could show graduate students how new critical and scholarly interventions can still be made in long-held critical conversations.
- The authors need not be superstars.
- Don’t shy from articles that are difficult in their assumptions about their audience’s knowledge of either theory or literary-historical contexts. Students have to learn how to deal with the unknown whenever they’re doing their own research, so they might as well deal with it with these articles.
- I prefer journal articles to essays in collections, but I won’t rule out the latter. But since I’d like essays that are complete in and of themselves, I am ruling out chapters of monographs.
- Coverage of every period and movement in English and American literature isn’t necessarily the goal. A range of choices is enough. As long as it’s not all medieval and early modern Brit Lit (as it would likely be if I were doing this alone), that’s OK.
So tell me what your favorite articles on well-known works are. And if you don’t know the whole citation, if you can give me enough to find it in the MLA bibliography, that’s OK.