Catalogue


Reference works in British and American literature /
James K. Bracken.
edition
2nd ed.
imprint
Englewood, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1998.
description
xlvii, 726 p.
ISBN
1563085186
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Englewood, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1998.
isbn
1563085186
catalogue key
2122120
 
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-01:
Bracken's single-volume, better printed and designed second edition abandons the content of the first edition's "English and American Literature" (v.1, CH, Sep'90) and more than doubles its "English and American Writers" (v.2, CH, Jul'92), while retaining the original, now misleading, collective title. Enlarged front matter discusses principles of compilation and inclusion; defines "reference work" expansively to include all manner of publications that can be used bibliographically (periodicals, encyclopedias, dealers' catalogs, etc.); offers helpful information about the volume's relation to other sources, particularly serial bibliographies; and adds a list of frequently cited collective works. The roster of some 1,500 authors derives from Oxford's English and American literature companions, with support from standard bibliographies. From recent, almost exclusively English-language bibliographies of primary and secondary sources, Bracken selects the "most important and useful," subsuming similar and related works in annotations. Longer files for authors subdivide by type of reference source, while authors without dedicated titles are helpfully located in such standard collective works as NCBEL. A new indexing scheme augments the first edition's author/title index of main entries with titles of works appearing in annotations and, superfluously, citations to references in collective works. Three additional indexes offer access to authors by birth date, nationality, and subject, the last two plagued by inconsistencies in headings and author categories. The curricular importance of contemporary writers and of Anglophone writers not from the UK or US might have led Bracken in his introduction to offer advice on authors not yet Oxford-companioned by discussing such collections as "Dictionary of Literary Biography," Bibliographic Index, or Contemporary Authors. Harner's third is unchanged in format from previous editions (CH, Nov'90; Sep'93) and, with revisions, is virtually the same size. It retains the familiar chapters on classes of resources, national literatures, genres, and topics; chapters retain their detailed tables of contents and mention histories, surveys, and periodicals as well as more usual "reference room" titles. Front matter rehearses the changes to this edition and discusses its scope, limitations, organization, and the practices governing choice of entry, citation practice, and annotation content. According to the preface's arithmetic, Harner enters 1,207 works and mentions 1,331 other works and 752 book reviews. Indexes list authors and titles for all works entered or mentioned and map the contents by subject. A Web site will keep the volume up to date. Like Bracken, Harner covers electronic as well as printed sources and, while citing the large Internet directories of Alan Liu, Jack Lynch, and others, agrees with Bracken that the Web where free is currently inadequate as a substitute for the reference room's publications. Harner's bracingly evaluative, sometimes provocative judgments are generally more critical in matters of content and editing than Bracken's, and more inclined to enumerate a work's deficiencies or urge its emendation. The sections on non-US and British literatures are highly selective, and students might have benefited from inclusion of more biographical/critical encyclopedias for access to world authors. Harner makes a point of selectivity; to criticize it for works omitted may simply be to say that other compilers might have made other choices. With Bracken covering sources on individual authors and Harner everything else, these two new editions are complementary, together constituting the core of a US/UK literature bibliography collection now that Michael Marcuse's A Reference Guide for English Studies is dated. Most welcome in both are the well-written, extraordinarily detailed annotations, which describe the scope, organization, history, and features of titles, relate them to other publications, and comment on their utility. Such lengthy, compare-and-contrast annotations may annoy sound-bite point-and-clickers but are a boon to researchers embarking on projects requiring bibliographic thoroughness and to librarians engaged in building and assessing collections. Students, scholars, and librarians whose research problem or ambition prompts a desire to be instructed will be grateful for these volumes. R. H. Kieft; Haverford College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Highly recommended for libraries supporting upper-division undergraduate or graduate programs in literature."- Choice
'œWell written and informative. A valuable selection and evaluation tool.'' Booklist
"Well written and informative. A valuable selection and evaluation tool."- Booklist
"Annotations are extensive and are generally more descriptive than evaluative. Within an annotation of one reference work, useful citations to other significant sources of the same type are frequently provided."- Insights
'œHighly recommended for libraries supporting upper-division undergraduate or graduate programs in literature.'' Choice
'œAnnotations are extensive and are generally more descriptive than evaluative. Within an annotation of one reference work, useful citations to other significant sources of the same type are frequently provided.'' Insights
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, October 1998
Choice, January 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Designed to serve the basic needs of literary researchers of all degrees of sophistication, this book updates and expands on the author's previous work by the same title. Focusing on the most important and useful resources for modern researchers and students of English literature, Bracken identifies and describes a substantial portion of the currently available reference sources in British and American literature-dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, periodicals, and so forth-with more than 1,500 resources on individual writers. Descriptive annotations offer thorough and detailed assessments of the works, noting specific features and often comparing them to similar titles. Numerous cross-references are given. A valuable research tool for students and scholars, this text will also be useful to bibliographic instructors and collection development specialists.
Unpaid Annotation
Bracken identifies and describes a substantial portion of the currently available reference sources in British and American literature with more than 1,500 resources on individual writers. Descriptive annotations offer thorough and detailed assessments of the works.

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