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ENG 600: Research Methods

Dr. Dabney A. Bankert 
0001 Thursday 5-8pm

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
-- Zora Neale Hurston

Course Description:
          English 600 is an introduction to graduate studies in English, specifically to bibliographic research and methods, to academic writing, and to the various kinds of scholarship in which literary critics and scholars engage. It is also an introduction to graduate school and to the fundamental and important distinctions between undergraduate- and graduate-level scholarly research and writing. You will learn how to do different types of research, how to locate and assess research sources for a variety of scholarly problems, and how to develop and refine such problems; in short, how to ask good questions and how to go about answering them productively, rigorously, and eloquently. You will also learn how the scholarly editions you read came to be and how the history of the manuscript and codex informs, if often invisibly, all scholarly work. The course is designed to provide the tools essential to progressing in content courses.

Required Texts:
Please do not substitute and make certain to get these exact editions, with the exception noted for the recommended text:

Harner, James L., ed.  Literary Research Guide:  An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary 
. 5th ed. MLA, 2008.  ISBN: 9780873528085

The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3d edition. New York: MLA, May 2008. ISBN: 9780873522977           (hardcover)

Semenza, Gregory Colón. Graduate Study for the 21st Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities. 2d           ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.  ISBN: 13: 978-0230100336

Kelemen, Erick. Textual Editing and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2009. ISBN 13: 978-0393929423

Parker, Robert Dale. Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. Third ed.  ISBN: 9780199331161 (publication date           July 2014)

Strongly Recommended:
          Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature.  12th ed.  Macmillan. ISBN-13: 978-0205024018 (the most recent (12th) edition is ridiculously expensive, but the 11th edition is a good buy either new or used. Get the most recent you can afford. Another option is The Bedford Glossary of Literary and Critical Terms, decent and inexpensive, but go for Holman if you can.


ENG 620: Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Literature: Tudor Books and Readers: 1485-1603 
Dr. Mark Rankin (
Wednesday 5-8pm

          This graduate seminar will investigate the manufacture, dissemination, reading, and use of printed books and manuscripts during the era of the Tudor monarchs (1485-1603). Students will consider ways in which readers, authors, editors, translators, and publishers responded to and utilized elements such as book layout, typography, illustration, and paratext (e.g., prefaces, glosses, and commentaries) as vehicles for meaning. Employing key methods of the history of the book and the history of reading, this investigation will consider how the physical nature of books affected ways in which readers understood and assimilated their intellectual contents. 

          Focusing upon England, our discussions will situate the study of book production and use within a broader historical context afforded by the advent of printing via moveable type during the fifteenth century and the Protestant Reformation and Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation during the sixteenth century. As a shared point of departure for our theoretical investigation, the seminar will consider verse by John Skelton and William Baldwin’s prose satire Beware the Cat (1552). Students will be expected to conduct ongoing research in additional primary sources using the EEBO database and (if appropriate) JMU’s Carrier Library Special Collections, and to report on the results of this research to the seminar. Using EEBO, Each student will also be expected to read and learn about one book produced by either William Caxton, England's first printer, or his successor, Wynkyn de Worde. By employing methodological practices associated with the study of book and reading history, this seminar will ask challenging questions concerning the practices and methods of literary criticism, the issue of canonicity and literary value, and the varied and fraught ways in which we read. This seminar is designed and offered at a level commensurate with doctoral work in this subject and will serve as ideal preparation for students interested in pursuing the doctorate. 

Required texts:
Baldwin, William. Beware the Cat: The First English Novel. Ed. William A. Ringler, Jr., and Michael Flachmann. San 
          Marino, CA: The Huntington Library, 1988. 
Bland, Mark. A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts. Blackwell, 2010. 
Pincombe, Mike, and Cathy Shrank. The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature, 1485-1603. Oxford: Oxford University 
          Press, 2009.
Selected secondary readings available via Canvas

Seminar Requirements
One in-seminar presentation 
Co-leading of seminar discussion of a selected scholarly article 
Two short response papers 
Review of a scholarly monograph 
Bio-bibliographical project on William Caxton or Wynkyn de Worde 
Research project


ENG 650: Studies in Early American Literature: The Native Presence in Early American Literature
Dr. Laura Henigman (
Tuesday 5-8PM           

             In 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted as its symbol a picture of    an Indian with a scroll coming out of his mouth, reading “Come over and help    us.”    The seal well illustrates how colonial European powers ventriloquized the    voice of the Indian in their own interest and according to their own textual    conventions, creating powerful and persistent stereotypes that we still live with    today.  This semester we will examine the presence of indigenous Americans in    the early periods of contact on the North American continent, both as represented    in European-authored texts and especially as created in the writings of    indigenous people themselves.  Along the way we will consider the impact that    Native American studies has had on the academic study of early American    literature.   We will look at some classic European-authored texts such as    captivity narratives, missionary literature, and Enlightenment naturalist writing.     We’ll spend most of our time, however, studying Native American forms of writing    in the contact zone, examining theories of authorship, literacy, and print culture    that emerge from both early American and Native American studies.    We’ll    concentrate on pre-1900 figures such as Samson Occam, Black Hawk,    Sequoyah, Elias Boudinot,William Apess, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, and    others, but we will close with a look at some 20th century Native American writers (Erdrich, McNickle, or Alexie), to suggest ways in which our close study of early American literacies and cultural contact may inform twentieth-century studies as well.         


ENG 675: Reading and Research. 3 credits. Supervised reading and research in a particular topic or field. Admission by permission of the Director of Graduate studies; may not be repeated.

ENG 698: Comprehensive Continuance. 1 credit. Continued preparation for the comprehensive examinations. May be repeated as needed.

ENG 699: Thesis Continuance. 2 credits. Continued study, research and writing for the thesis. May be repeated as needed.

ENG 700: Thesis. 6 credits.Six credits taken over two consecutive semesters. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis.

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