Enumerative Bibliography Assignment


  • A preface to your bibliography.
  • A list of 30 ± 3 items. You may include items that you’ve found in other courses.
  • 10 annotations (include them in your list).

Introduction to the assignment

Annotated bibliographies are valuable resources. Databases give you access to lots of information, but they don’t organize the information in meaningful ways. A good enumerative bibliographer finds, organizes, summarizes, and connects scholarship in ways that other scholars will find useful. This exercise asks you to create an exhaustive, annotated, enumerative bibliography for your own use. It will help you survey the field for a seminar paper, your dissertation, or your graduating essay.

Normally, enumerative bibliography aims to be exhaustive in its compilation of all the references within the defined parameters.  These parameters will be determined by the subject and approach you choose.  If you were to focus your bibliography on an obscure or new author, work, movement, critical approach, or genre, then you might be able to compile an exhaustive bibliography of primary and secondary material, including every edition, review, and critical article that has been published.  If you were to focus your attention on a canonical author who is widely discussed and anthologized, you would need to limit your bibliography to the last ten years, or to a specific kind of critical attention, or to primary or secondary materials only.  Deciding how best to limit the scope of your bibliography is an important aspect of the assignment.  Come talk to me about your subject and/or methodology as you work on your bibliography. I intend for this assignment to be useful as you pursue your own research interests and projects. I guarantee that it will help you write the literature review in your SSHRC proposal and those necessary “state-of-the-art” footnotes in your term papers

Some possible parameters

These parameters might be combined to broaden or limit the scope as appropriate).

  • Scholarship pertaining to an author’s oeuvre or single work
  • Scholarship pertaining to a publisher
  • Books published by a publisher or printed by a particular printer
  • Books with particular bibliographical features (font, size, binding, provenance)
  • Scholarship published within a specific time period
  • A complete list of editions of a work or of an author’s complete works from first edition to most recent scholarly edition, or from a more limited temporal period (e.g., Victorian editions of Shakespeare), or from a particular place (e.g., American editions of Dickens).  Include online republications, editions, or databases as appropriate.
  • Reviews of an author’s work(s)
  • Reviews of scholarly editions
  • Criticism in a narrowly defined field (such as eco-critical readings of the beat poets; essays written about editing Shakespeare; performance theory applied to a specific field)
  • Criticism of a particular genre from a particular period (such as closet drama of the seventeenth century; the epistolary novel in the early eighteenth century)
  • Geographical parameters
  • Medium (digital publications, periodical publications, et cetera)

The Preface

Length: 750-1000 words.

Further instructions: “How to write the preface to an enumerative bibliography” (https://janellejenstad.com/teaching/resources-for-students/how-to-write-the-preface-to-an-enumerative-bibliography/).

The List

However you define the scope of your enumerative bibliography, your list of 30 +/- 3 items should be a thorough list of all the major and critically important sources.  Use all the print and electronic research tools at your disposal.  I should not be able to find any additional important sources via a cursory search.

Double-space all entries and indent the second and subsequent lines.  If you want to use a program such a RefWorks, Zotero, or EndNote to format your bibliography, you may do so.

Whatever citation style you choose to use (MLA, Chicago, or something else), deploy it consistently.

The Annotations

For ten of the entries (of your choosing), write summary-style annotations. At least one of the ten entries you annotate must be a book (ebook or printed book), and at least one must be a recent article (i.e., with the last five years).

For more information on writing annotations, consult Harner, On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography (1991).  Bear in mind that Harner is writing for scholars who are preparing book- or article-length exhaustive bibliographies and modify his prescriptions accordingly.  A good rule of thumb is that you should summarize the research question/problem, answering thesis, methodology, and evidence  Use my list of verbs to describe critical and textual activities.

We will have an opportunity to talk further about writing effective annotations before you submit this assignment.

Examples of Annotated Bibliographies

You may wish to have a look at some annotated bibliographies in your field. Look for articles with titles like “Recent Studies in ….” Year’s Work in English Studies (YWES) provides prose-style overviews of the work in each sub-discipline, including reviews of new journals.

Here are some newly acquired book-length annotated bibliographies in our library:

Filler, Susan M. Alma Mahler and her Contemporaries: A Research and Information Guide. New York; London: Routledge, 2018. ML128.W7 F55 2018.

Gatten, Jeffrey N. Woodstock Scholarship: An Interdisciplinary Annotated Bibliography. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2016. Catalogue entry.

Here are some books that contain annotated bibliographies:

Frazer, Paul, and Adam Hansen, eds. The White Devil: A Critical Reader. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2016. PR3184 W53W48 2016.

Allain, Paul, and Jen Harvie. The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance. London; New York: Routledge, 2014. PN1581 A45 2014.