Electronic dissertations and theses – wave of the future? already here?

January 22nd, 2009

Those of you who are writing dissertations and theses, along with those of you who may be advising students who are writings such things, may have given at least passing thought to the idea of the format in which that final document will be submitted, evaluated, and disseminated.  There are numerous discussions afoot regarding the need for a shift toward electronic dissertations and theses.  In some cases, these discussions center on the practicalities of having electronic rather than (or in addition to) paper copies to facilitate dissemination and preservation.  In other cases, the question is somewhat more radical, asking what new forms may emerge to challenge the convention of a linear, text-based, book-length argument that prevails in most humanities and social science disciplines.

 To get a handle on these discussions, you can consult the latest version of the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Bibliography by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Undergraduate library prize

January 21st, 2009

Gary Strong, University Librarian of the UCLA Library, has just announced that the Library will award its first Library Prize for Undergraduate Research on May 11, 2009. This new prize has been established:

  • to encourage undergraduate students to reflect on the research process in the pursuit of excellence in their academic course work;
  • to recognize the significance of information literacy as it relates to academic learning; and
  • to reward undergraduate students who incorporate the collections of the UCLA Library into their research.

The prize has been funded through the generosity of long-time UCLA Library supporter Ruth Simon. For complete details, visit: http://www.library.ucla.edu/service/13024.cfm 

If you have questions, please contact Alison Armstrong, director of Undergraduate Initiatives, aarmstrong at library dot ucla dot edu.


January 12th, 2009

If your literature research takes you back any earlier than, say, 1900 or so, you have probably had occasion to try to decipher old type faces, older spelling variants, and blurry, damaged or fading text.  Many of these kinds of texts are being digitized, however, optical character recognition (OCR) scanning has a hard time dealing with anything that is not clearly printed with current spelling or type face conventions.  Even with more current texts, machine digitization (like the Google Books project) introduces a high number of errors to the electronic “copy.”  Having a human go through and correct for these errors is extremely labor-intensive and therefore costly.  A group at Carnegie Mellon has figured out a way to harness human powers of deciphering in order to read and digitize old texts.  Read here for more information about reCAPTCHA.

A new LibGuide for the new year

January 6th, 2009

Locating resources for literature-related research at UCLA has just gotten a bit easier.  I have just unveiled the Literature research guide (aka “LibGuide”) to help give you a launching pad for your research.  The URL is easy to remember: http://guides.library.ucla.edu/literature

On the home page, you will find handy frequently used links such as the MLA International Bibliography database, Literature Criticism Online, the library catalogs, and more.  You will also find links to MLA style guides and manuals, as well as ways to contact me for research assistance.  Along the top, there are tabs that organize resources into Reference Sources, Books, Journal Articles, Primary Sources, and Other Resources.  Other Resources includes a growing list of digital humanities sites and scholarly web projects related to literature.

The best thing about the guide is that it is adaptable.  I will continue to add new resources as I come across them.  You are welcome to leave comments about what is useful or what you would like to see added to the guide.  Is there a particular database or resource that you use frequently?  Let me know and I can put it on the home page to help minimize the number of clicks it takes you to find it.  Is there are more intuitive way to organize the information?  Let me know and I’m happy to work with your suggestions.

Happy holidays!

December 16th, 2008

For those of you who are teaching courses in Winter 2009, be sure to contact me to set up a library instruction session for your students.  An instruction session can be a general introduction to library resources, a session on academic integrity, a very targeted lesson on research methods for finding particular types of materials, or a show-and-tell of selected primary source materials.  I try to make all library instruction hands-on, interactive sessions.

For those of you who are taking classes rather than teaching them, why not suggest a library instruction session to your instructor?  You can also request individual or small group sessions with me or any subject specialist relevant to your area of study.  Just contact me or the appropriate librarian from the Humanities and Social Scientists Subject Specialist Page.

Procrastination reading for dead week

December 2nd, 2008

Since this is “dead week,” the time when you get ready to give or take final exams, I thought it would be appropriate to share this September 2008 article from the Telegraph, “50 Greatest Villains in Literature” (many of whom were murderers, hence the connection with dead week, in case that much wasn’t clear).  You will find most, if not all, of these titles at UCLA Library.

Some free articles from American Literary History

November 21st, 2008

Because UCLA subscribes to American Literary History, we already have online access to all its articles, but it’s worth knowing that a handful have been made freely available in honor of the journal’s 20th anniversary.

*Celebrating the 20th anniversary of American Literary History*
To mark 20 years of American Literary History, we have made a
selection of articles from the current anniversary volume available
FREE online. To access the articles, simply click on the links below:

*FREE ARTICLES from the 20th anniversary volume*
What Good Can Literary History Do?
Jonathan Arac

National Treasure, Global Value, and American Literary Studies
Eric Lott

Border Literary Histories, Globalization, and Critical Regionalism
José E. Limón

“Are We There Yet?”: Archives, History, and Specificity in
African-American Literary Studies
Xiomara Santamarina

Re-thinking “American Studies after US Exceptionalism”
Donald Pease

Hemispheric Islam: Continents and Centuries for American Literature
Wai Chee Dimock

Scholarship and the State: Robert Greenhow and Transnational American
Studies 1848/2008
Anna Brickhouse

*Table of contents*
To browse the tables of contents and other articles from the
anniversary volume, visit http://www.oxfordjournals.org/page/3329/8

*About American Literary History*
Covering the study of US literature from its origins through the
present, American Literary History provides a much-needed forum for
the various, often competing voices of contemporary literary inquiry.

NEH Summer Seminar in history of the book

November 18th, 2008

 This announcement may be of interest to literature faculty:

John N. King and James K. Bracken of The Ohio State University will direct a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers on continuity and change in the production, dissemination, and reading of Western European books during the 200 years following the advent of printing with movable type. In particular, they plan to pose the governing question of whether the advent of printing was a necessary precondition for the Protestant Reformation. Participants will consider ways in which adherents of different religious faiths shared common ground in exploiting elements such as book layout, typography, illustration, and paratext (e.g., prefaces, glosses, and commentaries) in order to inspire reading, but also to restrict interpretation. Employing key methods of the History of the Book, our investigation will consider how the physical nature of books affected ways in which readers understood and assimilated their intellectual contents. This program is geared to meet the needs of teacher-scholars interested in  the literary, political, or cultural history of the Renaissance and/or Reformation, the History of the Book, art history, women’s studies, religious studies, bibliography, print culture, library science (including would-be rare book librarians), mass communication, literacy studies, and more.

This seminar will meet from 22 June until 24 July 2009. During the first week of this program, we shall visit 1) Antwerp, Belgium, in order to draw on resources including the Plantin-Moretus Museum (the world’s only surviving early modern printing and publishing house) and 2) London, England, in order to attend a rare-book workshop and consider treasures at the British Library. During four weeks at Oxford, where we shall reside at St. Edmund Hall, we plan to draw on the rare book and manuscript holdings of the Bodleian Library and other institutions.

Those eligible to apply include citizens of USA who are engaged in teaching at the college or university level and independent scholars who have received the terminal degree in their field (usually the Ph.D.). In addition, non-US citizens who have taught and lived in the USA for at least three years prior to March 2009 are eligible to apply. NEH will provide participants with a stipend of $3,800.

Full details and application information are available at http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/king2/Reformationofthebook/. For further information, please contact  rankinmc@jmu.edu. The application deadline is March 1, 2009.

LibGuides at UCLA

November 14th, 2008

Research has never been a straightforward, easy endeavor and it has only become more complicated with the advent of online indexes and databases.  With resources changing on a frequent basis, it is tough for even the most advanced scholar to figure out how to find relevant sources in her area of research. 

UCLA Librarians are now trying out LibGuides, a dynamic software program that enables us to present online research guides that are easy to update and user-friendly.  A list of available guides can be found at http://guides.library.ucla.edu.

I don’t yet have a guide for Literature, but I have already created a guide for History and literature scholars will find a great deal of relevant information in the History guide.  I plan to release the Literature guide at the beginning of Winter Quarter, so keep an eye out for it!

I voted!

November 4th, 2008

Did you?