EN250W - Introduction to Literary Research

missalThe purpose of this course is to introduce students to undergraduate literary research. In order to be exposed to the full breadth of books, articles, and electronic resources available for literary study, students will focus on two works of distinctly different periods, genres, and lengths, but with comparable themes and similar interpretive issues, in this case, Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger" and Dante's Inferno. The class will research historical, cultural and biographical backgrounds of the writers and works and will also focus on the thorny textual issues surrounding "The Mysterious Stranger" and the complex questions of translation that arise in the Inferno. To see the syllabus for this course, click here. The resources on this page should be considered merely a starting point for research.

General Research Resources

  • Preston Library Home Page - The starting point for research, with links to the catalogues of UVA and W&L and other Virginia libraries, as well as VMI, and a large selection of databases, primary and secondary texts.
  • Citing Electronic Sources - A collection of links to websites with guidelines for citing material from the World Wide Web, CD-ROMs and other electronic sources.  The emphasis is on MLA format, but there is information for APA, Chicago, and Turabian, as well.

Resources for the Study of Mark Twain

Resources for the Study of Dante

  • Voice of the Shuttle: Italian Literature 
  • ILTweb: Digital Dante: Dante-related Resources on the Net - A website provided by Columbia University's Institute for Learning Technologies (ILTweb), it "integrates . . . multimedia, as well as hyperlinked text commentary and other materials, into the reading of the Commedia in an innovative way -- a way not previously possible in non-digital media. The Digital Dante Project is essentially a twenty-first-century illumination -- one that intends to take advantage of the existing technical possibilities of our contemporary culture to create a viewpoint -- a twenty-first-century dantisti viewpoint--of contemporary and historical culture, much like Dante's original work was (in addition to allegory) a thirteenth-century viewpoint of then contemporary and historical culture." For a different version of this site, click here
  • Otfried Lieberknecht's Dante Alighieri: A Guide to Online Resources - Sponsored by the ORB: On-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies.
  • Otfried Lieberknecht's Homepage for Dante Studies - If your browser does not support frames and JavaScript or you prefer not to use them, click here.
  • Dante Society - An online Service for Dante scholars provided by the Dante Society Of America, this website includes a link to the American Dante Bibliography, an annotated bibliography of Dante studies from 1953-1995. Includes the Princeton Dante Project (see below)
  • The Princeton Dante Project - An elaborate, innovative site for studying the works of Dante. It includes the authoritative Petrocchi text of The Divine Comedy; the verse translation of Inferno by Robert Hollander, which can be viewed in parallel columns with the Italian or by itself; audio of both the Italian and English, along with images and other multimedia features; lectures on Dante's life and the historical, cultural and literary background of the Comedy; bibliography; commentary and notes. Finally, the text and translation allow you to click on direct links to the line by line commentaries in the Dartmouth Dante Project and to switch easily back and forth between commentaries in all languages and commentaries only in English. For a direct link to the Dartmouth Dante Project, see below. The Princeton Dante Project requires registration and password entry, but registration is free and quick.
  • The Dartmouth Dante Project - Contains over 50 commentaries on The Divine Comedy, beginning with that of Dante's son, Jacopo Alighieri, and including the commentaries by Boccaccio, Longfellow and Singleton. You can search by book (cantica), canto, and line numbers and limit the responses according to the language of the commentaries (e.g., English, Latin, Italian). Note that, although it is not possible to search for a range of line numbers (e.g., 31-54 for all three beasts), if you give the first line of a passage, the database will usually return commentary on the entire passage.
  • American Dante Bibliography - Annotated bibliographies of Dante scholarship from 1953-2000. You can browse through each year or and search by keywords. There are also links to un-annotated bibliographies of Dante scholarship in the British Isles from 1980-2000 and in Italy from 1988-1990.
  • Danteworlds - Danteworlds, created under the auspices of Guy Raffa at the University of Texas, Austin, is "an integrated multimedia journey--combining images, textual commentary, and audio--through the various regions of hell described in Dante's Inferno. The site is structured around a visual representation of hell: it shows who and what appear where. Clicking on a region or circle of hell . . . opens a new page depicting the principal creatures and people whom the character Dante meets in the region. Click on individual figures in the circle to view a close-up of the image in a pop-up window. Click on their names in the list of 'icons' for pertinent information. Also available for each infernal circle are links to 'allusions,' 'study questions,' recordings of selected 'Italian verses,' and a 'gallery' of artistic images--all aimed at a better understanding of the region under consideration."
  • The Douay-Rheims Bible - A Catholic translation of the Vulgate Bible into English, often closer to the Latin text that medieval authors would have known than any more modern translations, Catholic or Protestant. If a student can't read the medieval Latin Vulgate itself, this is the translation to use. Also available at Intratext Library, which contains a built-in concordance for many of the words.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia - An excellent first stop for research into Catholic doctrine and the history of the medieval Catholic Church.