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American Realism and Naturalism

This guide is for students in Carol Singley's American Realism and Naturalism course at Rutgers University-Camden.



The details and sign-ups for this exercise will be worked out in class.

1) research where one text on the syllabus appeared--in periodical or book form

2) if it is in periodical form, note advertisements and other writings that appeared in the issue,

3) learn about the cultural context in which the text appeared,

4) find a review about the text or discover how the text was received in its time,

5) present your findings orally to the class,

6) write up your findings in 1-2 pages.

Identifying Publication History

As you begin this assignment, your first step is going to be tracking down the original form of your assigned text - serial publication or monograph/book. Some texts are going to be more difficult to identify than others. As you search for the original form, there are a number of resources you can consult. A few are listed here:

Nineteenth-century index: You can use C19: The Nineteenth-Century Index to provides citation information for books and periodicals published in the nineteenth century.

Reference sources: Try searching for the text or author in one of our English literature encyclopedias. At this step, you may also use Wikipedia. Just remember that you should always verify any information you find on Wikipedia and never cite Wikipedia as though it is a scholarly source.

Critical editions, introductions, or anthologies: Depending on your text, another valuable resource may be the edition or reproduction of the text that you have. Search the library catalog for your text. If you get any results, you will want to find the actual books and check for introductions, notes, or accompanying materials that might give you valuable information regarding context and reception.

Scholarly resources: Sometimes it will be helpful for you to see how scholars in the field talk about your text and what they say about its publication history or cultural context. Searching for your text in scholarly databases such as Literature Resource Center or MLA International Bibliography can help you locate scholarly conversations. To identify publication history, you will want to look out for information such as, "Your Text, which first appeared in Fancy Magazine in 1900..." To identify cultural context, you may need to read the introduction or the entire scholarly article.

Finding Contemporary Criticism

For this assignment, you will also need to locate contemporary criticism or reviews of your assigned text.

Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers: American newspapers published between 1800 and 1900.

The New York Times: Search the New York Times from 1851 to the present.

The Washington Post: Search the Washington Post from 1877-1993.

African American Newspapers: Search multiple newspapers published for and by African Americans 1827-1902.

America's Historical Newspapers: Search newspapers published between 1741 and 1940.

American Periodicals Series: Search magazines and journals published between 1741 and 1940.

Finding Serials

If you determine that your assigned text was first published in a serial such as a magazine, you will need to attempt to track it down.

Print and microfilm copies: Rutgers University Libraries may have print or microfilm copies of the serial you need. For example, Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities was published in weekly installments in All The Year Round in 1859. The Libraries own All the Year Round in microfilm 1859 - 1895, and we have many issues in print as well. You can request to have these sent to Camden for in-library use only.

Note: Library staff can help you with microfilm. Ask for help at the circulation desk.


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