Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sample Annotated Bibliography for "Searching the Hoard in _Words like Coins_"

Students, an example of the annotated bibliography discussed here appears below.  Use it as a model for the kind of writing you are asked to do in my literature classes, but keep in mind the limitations on its applicability due to the differences in media between the model and what you are expected to submit to me.

~Carroll, Siobhan. "Honor-bound: Self and Other in the Honor Culture of Robin Hobb's Soldier Son Series." Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 18.3 (Fall 2007): 308-18. General OneFile. Web. 13 June 2013.

Carroll argues that Hobb uses fantasy tropes to lay bare conflicts among and within honor systems.  She posits that in so doing, Hobb effectively interrogates the "standard" ideas of appropriate conduct that appear in fantasy literature, offering instead a nuanced and therefore more authentic view of the interplay between public and private expectations of behavior.  Carroll illustrates her point primarily through two examples from the first book of the Soldier Son trilogy, acknowledging the limitations imposed by the then-incomplete series on her conclusions; she nonetheless asserts that Hobb offers a potentially helpful analogy of the dealings of the United States in its contemporary conflicts.

It is true that the Soldier Son novels are set in a milieu unlike that of Words like Coins, which would appear to limit the usefulness of Carroll's article in analyzing and discussing the novella.  Carroll's is one of a limited number of scholarly sources that directly treat Hobb's work, and so is valuable for the project in that regard.  In addition, in interrogating the relationships among peoples--something which does figure in Words like Coins--Carroll's article offers what might be taken as a paradigm of analysis to apply to the novella.

~Elliott, Geoffrey B. "Manifestations of English Arthurian Legend in the Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies of Robin Hobb." MA thesis. U of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2007. Print.

Elliott examines deployment of Arthurian tropes and figures in the six novels of Robin Hobb's Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies.  While there are not one-to-one correspondences, Hobb appropriates a number of features of milieu, protagonist, and supplemental characters employed in the major works of Arthurian legend in English, notably Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.  The thesis ultimately argues, using Hobb as an example, that the medieval continues to merit study because it continues to inform the present.

As one of the relatively few scholarly sources directly treating the works of Robin Hobb, and one of the earliest, Elliott's thesis is particularly relevant to the study of her works.  In addition, the text focuses in large part on the milieu of Hobb's Words like Coins, explicating the derivation of a number of the features of its setting and social structure.  Accordingly, it serves as a possible resource for further understanding the novella.

~Roberts, Jude. "'Circumcision: everyone's talking about it': Legislation, Social Pressure, and the Body." Journal of Gender Studies 20.4 (December 2011): 347-58. EBSCOhost. Web. 5 June 2013.

Roberts uses the short story "Cut," written by Hobb under another pseudonym, and major theorist Judith Butler's work to illuminate how both fail to effectively move beyond the concerns of the individual to the possibility of effective collective action regarding female body modification, including genital cutting.  In effect, Roberts uses the two writers' works to demonstrate that legislation of body issues is ultimately futile, as any law will ultimately undermine itself through being appropriated for purposes the law's framers could not foresee.

Roberts's work is useful as an entry into plumbing Hobb's work for concerns of gender studies.  It tacitly asserts that at least some parts of the author's corpus have engaged with serious cultural concerns.  In so doing, it validates continued study of the author's corpus, for if one of a given writer's works can sustain academic critique, then others may well be able to do so.

~Strunk, William, Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. New York: Pearson, 2009. Print.

Long held to be one of the standard texts on appropriate composition practice, The Elements of Style lays out a number of principles of usage, compositional practice, form, use of common expressions, and style.  In addition, the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the text offers commentaries about its utility and development, illuminating further the value of the text.

Strunk and White admittedly do not directly engage with Robin Hobb.  They do, however, engage fully with the tasks of writing as traditionally--and in many cases still--understood. Their recommendations carry such weight as to be accepted as fundamental principles of writing.  What they say about the task of writing, then, can serve as a paradigm for it, offering a standard of comparison against which Hobb's statements concerning writing can be evaluated.

~Tolkien, J.R.R. “On Fairy-Stories.” J.R.R. Tolkien: “The Monsters and the Critics” and Other Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. London: Harper Collins, 2006. Print. 109-61.

Tolkien argues in "On Fairy-Stories" that fantasy literature is as deserving of study as any other form of literary art.  In his view, it depends largely upon magic for its character, and while the presence of magic is necessary, the more closely the milieu of fantasy literature adheres to the observable reality of the reader, the more effective it will be.  Also, in its use of magic, fantasy literature offers a form of escape more appropriate to adults than to the children towards whom much fantasy literature is directed.  In addition, Tolkien posits that any literary art partakes of the divinely creative, so that even fantasy literature becomes an act of devotion.

Any consideration of fantasy literature seemingly must take Tolkien into account in some way.  As "On Fairy-Stories" forms a nucleus of fantasy criticism, being perhaps the seminal work in the field, it suggests itself as a starting point for the conduct of any analysis of fantasy literature.  It offers an early--and fairly reliable--idea of what marks fantasy literature as fantasy literature and as successful fantasy literature, and so it provides a standard of comparison against which Hobb's novella can be measured.

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