ENGL 500: Working with (Rare) Primary Sources


  • Unique materials
  • Unique objects (even if the copy is not unique)
  • New discoveries
  • History of collecting, readership
  • Pleasure


  • Manuscripts (unique)
  • Books (rare)
  • Fragile print material
  • Periodicals, newspapers (ephemera)
  • Literary archives (papers, letters, drafts, manuscripts)
  • Electronic literary archives (emails, files, eLiterature)
  • Letters
  • Documents
  • Institutional records (e.g., theatre company records)
  • Artists’ archives



  • In person
  • Digital surrogates
  • Print surrogates
  • Microfilm
  • Vicariously through descriptions

How to Find:

Field trip to the Compact Shelving (my favourite part of the Library).

Additional Considerations:

  • Collections mandate (see UVic’s Archives Collections Policy)
  • Book collectors
  • Donors
  • Local commitments (to community, to researchers)

Terms for Today:

  • metadata
  • provenance
  • historical bibliography
  • deposit library
  • GLAM organizations (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums)


Critical Verbs:

Use my list of verbs to describe what we do as critics and scholars.

Writing Annotations:

See “How to Write an Annotation” for tips.

Examples from the World Shakespeare Bibliography.


Questions about Enumerative Bibliography Assignment

Master the Field (introduced last week)

Introduce New Assignment

Engage with the Material