What is your most recent publication?
The book is titled Literary Research and the Era of American Nationalism and Romanticism, part of the Scarecrow Press Literary Research Series. It was published in December of 2007.
How did you decide to write it?
For this series, there was a post to the LES list looking for people who were interested in working on the books. I responded for more information on the series. After looking at the first book in the series and corresponding with the editors, I decided to throw my name in for consideration.
What was the process that you went through?
For this book, I had to write a short proposal that summarized the anticipated content and organizational scheme of the book. I then had to submit a chapter outline that included representative examples of the types of resources that would be covered in each chapter. Once those submissions were approved, I received a contract, read it, signed it, and returned it to the publisher. Then, I started working on the book.
I had to do a lot of research before writing the book, and I was surprised at how much I learned during this process. It was fun to explore older resources that I sometimes tend to overlook in my own research and reference interactions. There are many useful and interesting bibliographies that were compiled decades ago. These types of resources allow researchers to uncover information about authors and works that may have faded in scholarly appeal over the years.
I followed the pattern established by Jenny Bowers and Peggy Keeran in their volume. They did an excellent job of speaking eloquently yet clearly to a wide variety of potential users. I tried to create a readable narrative that would connect the annotations in a logical and readable manner. Anyone who has ever created a pathfinder or research guide for a class can understand the challenge in writing annotations that don’t all sound the same. I forcibly expanded my vocabulary in order to more efficiently vary the discussion of resources.
Talk a bit about the publication.
The book and the series as a whole represent a much needed tool in literary research. The book is designed to be read as a cohesive whole, but it can also be read in parts. If someone only needs information of microform collections, for example, he or she can go to that one chapter for help.
My book deals with the literary output of the United States from nationhood to the threshold of the Civil War. Because literary scholarship increasingly expands its purview into cultural and historical studies, this book includes many resources that reach beyond traditional literary research tools—borrowing liberally from the standard tools belonging to other areas of scholarship.
What did you like most about the process/project?
I really felt that I was learning a great deal as I researched this book. As a result, I felt pretty confident in believing that the book would be a strong addition to the milieu of literary research.
What did you like least?
I never like to read my own work. Receiving the galleys was very exciting…having to read over 200 pages of my prose was a daunting task.
What suggestions would you have for LES members who would like to become involved in research and publication?
There is a great list of calls for papers on the University of Pennsylvania English Department’s web page at: http://cfp.english.upenn.edu/. I’ve ended up at many conferences after submitting papers to calls on this list. I’ve also written some encyclopedia articles for calls on this list. It was once am email service, but now you actually have to go to the page and look through the list. It’s also an archive, so you have to remember to check the dates for calls.
Why is something like this important to you?
I like research and writing, and I’m lucky to be at a university that supports those activities for its librarians. I like the sense that I am contributing to both literary research and to librarianship.