Object Description and Annotated Bibliography


As part of their research process, students will compose an annotated bibliography of no less than five scholarly sources reviewed as part of their research, as well as a description of one primary source from the Rose Library. The assignment will also include a cover letter reflecting on how the student’s approach to their research question has changed after engaging with primary and secondary sources.

This assignment will be due in class on Monday, October 30th. Please submit the assignment in hard copy and via email in advance of class.

Completing the Assignment

This assignment has three components:

  • A 250-word description of a primary source found in the Rose Library
  • An annotated bibliography including 100-word annotations on no fewer than five secondary sources
  • A cover letter for the assignment reflecting on how the process of completing the assignment impacted the student’s approach to their research question

Here is some more detailed information on each aspect of the assignment:

Object description

The purpose of this portion of the assignment is to get you started on analyzing primary archival materials. You will complete this part of the assignment following your visit to the Rose Library to examine the five archival items of interest you identified in your research proposal. You are welcome to select on of those five items for the assignment. Should none of them prove to be of interest, you may also select a totally different item on which to complete the assignment.

Once you have selected an object from the Rose Library, compose a 250-word description and analysis of the object that addresses the following questions:

  1. Physical Description: What are the basic features of the item? Is it a book, a periodical, a draft, a piece of correspondence, a flier? Are there any physical features of note, such as wear and tear on the item, or evidence of it having been posted publically, or annotations from a previous reader?
  2. Content Description: Can you summarize the content of the item? If it is a written text, what does it say? If it is a more visual or artistic item, what does it seem to communicate?
  3. Research Significance: In what ways is this item relevant to your research project? How does it help you to better understand the question you’ve set out to explore this semester?

Above your description, please also include all the relevant information one would need to find the item, including its author, title, bibliographic information (should there be any) and call number/manuscript location. For example:

  • [For a published item:] Ginsberg, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. San Francisco: City Lights, 1956. DANOWSKI 2012 1509
  • [For an archival item:] Ulewicz, Laura. Play draft, Zebra-Man, undated. MSS 1193, Box 19, Folder 5.
Annotated Bibliography

The purpose of this second portion of the assignment is to help you begin to sift through secondary sources that will be crucial to your final research project. You will identify no fewer than five secondary sources in your bibliography, and compose a 100-word entry on each.

To get started finding secondary, scholarly sources, check out the library resource page on completing literary studies research here. The page offers a comprehensive guide to finding, evaluating, and properly citing scholarly sources. There is also contact information for Katie Rawson, the English Subject Librarian. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with her—she’s super friendly and eager to help you with your research.

For each entry in the bibliography, include a full citation for the source in MLA style, followed by a 100-word entry on the source. In each entry, summarize the key arguments of the source and note how those arguments inform your broader research project.

Cover letter

Once you’ve completed the object description and annotated bibliography, I’d like you to take a moment to reflect, in writing, about the research process thus far. This reflection will serve as a cover letter to the assignment, and is a chance for you to think aloud about how the research you’ve done thus far has affected your sense of your research topic, what you’ve learned about the authors, texts, and histories you’re studying, and where you see things heading from here. The reflection should be at least 250 words, but otherwise, this space is entirely your own to use as you wish.

Submitting the Assignment

The assignment will be due in class on Monday, October 30th. Please bring a hard copy with you to class, and send in a digital copy via email in advance of class. As with the research proposal, please title your digital file in the following format: “lastname, firstname_annotated bibliography”. This is a huge help to me in keeping everyone’s work organized.

Grading and Assessment

This assignment is worth 15% of your overall grade. In grading the assignment, I will be focusing on the annotated bibliography and the object description; the cover letter will be graded only on the basis of completion. Please read the assignment page carefully as you prepare to complete the assignment. Your grade will depend on the degree to which you fulfill each aspect of the assignment. Remember, this is a tool to help you focus and develop your research. Please do your best to make the most of this exercise, as it will be a huge help as you move on to drafting your research paper.