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The Art of Literary Research

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For interested readers who have other vocational plans, its authors-experienced researchers themselves-provide an intimate view of the way professional scholars go about their specialized and challenging tasks. This extensively revised Fourth Edition takes full account of recent developments that have virtually revolutionized certain important areas of the discipline. The c For interested readers who have other vocational plans, its authors-experienced researchers themselves-provide an intimate view of the way professional scholars go about their specialized and challenging tasks. This extensively revised Fourth Edition takes full account of recent developments that have virtually revolutionized certain important areas of the discipline. The computer, as newly written pages demonstrate, not only has eliminated much of the drudgery formerly associated with the gathering, storage, and retrieval of raw data but has made possible many analytical and lexical operations that had been beyond human capacity, yet without diminishing the amount of sheer brain work still required to produce a genuine contribution to knowledge. The book also suggests that traditional literary studies, freshly evaluated, are compatible with the current emphasis on critical theory, not inimical to it. The ongoing revision of the literary canon under the impact of women's studies, African-American studies, and other movements, as well as the intensified scholarly and critical interest in present-day writers, is reflected in the book's hundreds of illustrative examples, extensive lists of several related books and articles, and hands-on exercises. The exercises range from the simple, short answer type that offer practice in the use of secondary materials such as can be found in any college library, to projects that may occupy a number of weeks of research in primary sources and are geared to the extensive holdings of large university libraries. The basic rationale and structure of the book, having proved themselves in previous editions, remain unchanged. The first half outlines the principles underlying the critical examination of evidence and describes in detail the chief branches of literary inquiry. Further chapters offer practical advice on bibliographical procedure and note-taking, particularly as these are made more efficient by electronic aids, and on the writing of scholarly papers (in one of the best discussions of the craft of expository prose t be found in any textbook); guide the student through the great American and British libraries whose stocks of books and manuscripts are indispensable to original literary research; and reviews the rewards, obligations, and ethics of the profession.


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For interested readers who have other vocational plans, its authors-experienced researchers themselves-provide an intimate view of the way professional scholars go about their specialized and challenging tasks. This extensively revised Fourth Edition takes full account of recent developments that have virtually revolutionized certain important areas of the discipline. The c For interested readers who have other vocational plans, its authors-experienced researchers themselves-provide an intimate view of the way professional scholars go about their specialized and challenging tasks. This extensively revised Fourth Edition takes full account of recent developments that have virtually revolutionized certain important areas of the discipline. The computer, as newly written pages demonstrate, not only has eliminated much of the drudgery formerly associated with the gathering, storage, and retrieval of raw data but has made possible many analytical and lexical operations that had been beyond human capacity, yet without diminishing the amount of sheer brain work still required to produce a genuine contribution to knowledge. The book also suggests that traditional literary studies, freshly evaluated, are compatible with the current emphasis on critical theory, not inimical to it. The ongoing revision of the literary canon under the impact of women's studies, African-American studies, and other movements, as well as the intensified scholarly and critical interest in present-day writers, is reflected in the book's hundreds of illustrative examples, extensive lists of several related books and articles, and hands-on exercises. The exercises range from the simple, short answer type that offer practice in the use of secondary materials such as can be found in any college library, to projects that may occupy a number of weeks of research in primary sources and are geared to the extensive holdings of large university libraries. The basic rationale and structure of the book, having proved themselves in previous editions, remain unchanged. The first half outlines the principles underlying the critical examination of evidence and describes in detail the chief branches of literary inquiry. Further chapters offer practical advice on bibliographical procedure and note-taking, particularly as these are made more efficient by electronic aids, and on the writing of scholarly papers (in one of the best discussions of the craft of expository prose t be found in any textbook); guide the student through the great American and British libraries whose stocks of books and manuscripts are indispensable to original literary research; and reviews the rewards, obligations, and ethics of the profession.

30 review for The Art of Literary Research

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ann

    An interesting window into literary research just before the digital revolution. It continues to offer solid research principles. It also offers the productive problem of thinking through how a contemporary literary scholar might build a research problem from the ground up and conduct thorough research with the tools at her disposal today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I have two editions of this book, and both are filled with interesting stories and useful info on doing literary research. Yes, we have digital databases, but Altick emphasizes that research doesn't consist of just "lookin' stuff up" on the computer. Research involves focus and creativity and an ability to extract information from unlikely sources and use it to find more information. Altick shows researchers doing just that. No book can keep up with the new research tools available. This book is I have two editions of this book, and both are filled with interesting stories and useful info on doing literary research. Yes, we have digital databases, but Altick emphasizes that research doesn't consist of just "lookin' stuff up" on the computer. Research involves focus and creativity and an ability to extract information from unlikely sources and use it to find more information. Altick shows researchers doing just that. No book can keep up with the new research tools available. This book is probably more useful for graduate students than undergrads and certainly needs to be augmented by instruction by a reference librarian. But it's fun to watch earlier researchers focus on some fascinating research questions, and I value Altick's enthusiasm.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shanae

    Those this book is quite antiquated, I think the information it provides about doing in-depth research to acquire the most accurate information when taking on the challenge of assessing any text is essential to all English majors and academic writers. I learned quite a bit from Altick and am anxious to put it to good use later this year when I begin writing heavily researched essays.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Cornelius

    If only it was the art of historical research . . .

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Proctor

    I will admit to just skimming it, but I was given a week to read it, and I gave it a fair chance. I know we shouldn't rely too much on technology, but this book (published in the 1960s) basically contained instructions on how to write a research paper if the internet died. It also repeated itself constantly (for basically the first 150 pages) while just giving tons of examples. The last section was kind of relevant, but I don't quite see how I would've made it to the upper-level college writing I will admit to just skimming it, but I was given a week to read it, and I gave it a fair chance. I know we shouldn't rely too much on technology, but this book (published in the 1960s) basically contained instructions on how to write a research paper if the internet died. It also repeated itself constantly (for basically the first 150 pages) while just giving tons of examples. The last section was kind of relevant, but I don't quite see how I would've made it to the upper-level college writing course that assigned me this book if I didn't already know most of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Smith

    This was written a few years back, before the internet. The views are and methods are pertinent for someone seeking to do research into a particular subject in literature but he makes the big mistake of assuming that the "art" of research is even worth it. He assumes his readers already accept that there is some noble mission in chaining yourself to a desk in the library to look into "eradicating error" in literature and never bothers to explain why someone would even want to. Anyway, it's all o This was written a few years back, before the internet. The views are and methods are pertinent for someone seeking to do research into a particular subject in literature but he makes the big mistake of assuming that the "art" of research is even worth it. He assumes his readers already accept that there is some noble mission in chaining yourself to a desk in the library to look into "eradicating error" in literature and never bothers to explain why someone would even want to. Anyway, it's all outdated now that the internet changed research forever.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    This is the kind of book Lionel Trilling would have had buried with him. Stuffy? Absolutely. But even more useful, and the bits about literary Indiana Jones-esque finds of buried manuscripts in British attics are especially good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    807.2 A4681 1993

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Very informed and full of self-conscious irony. An excellent read if you're truly desperate to know about literary research and don't mind looking up arcane wordage. Very informed and full of self-conscious irony. An excellent read if you're truly desperate to know about literary research and don't mind looking up arcane wordage.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lund

    Skimmed thoroughly. About biographical research, not literary criticism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I was surprised at how easy this book was to read! It was actually entertaining and really made me think. Go figure.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joe Nelis

    Definitely some useful information and interesting anecdotes here, but it's such a boring read. This was a struggle. Definitely some useful information and interesting anecdotes here, but it's such a boring read. This was a struggle.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Read this in my Literary Research class at Bob Jones University with Dr. Bruce Rose.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob Moody

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  16. 4 out of 5

    A.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ersoy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Normand

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erica Brown

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert Holm

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marjie Ayoban

  24. 5 out of 5

    Celina

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan Cook

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Kirby

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matt Spencer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Patchin

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