Annotated Bibliography Exercise.


I think these steps will make this exercise highly useful for this or any other paper:


From your reading, find five curious or exciting quotes or paraphrases representing the conclusions or musings or interpretive statements of modern scholarship. Ideally, they should be ideas from modern authors (20th or 21st century). They should be from five distinct bibliographic sources.

·        You might want to begin with the scholars name and "asserts" or "thinks" or "interprets" for each one. Try to get to the heart of the matter as succinctly as you can: summarize them in a single sentence each.

·        You can use an abbreviated reference format for books listed in your bibliography.

·        They can be ideas from one of our textbooks, or ideas from one writer citing another writer. Give page number in the book where they occur, and the reference to the author cited. You can use an abbreviated reference, but make sure the references show up in your bibliography.

·        If the idea is cited in a textbook or other source on the authority of a previous author, or refers to a previous author, or based on a scriptural text or classic author, try to find the work cited. Use the library, including its online catalogue and other resources. Remember that some books might be available in E-Books collections, or in other online formats. (Often you can find an article by the same author online even if you cannot find the book). If the reference seems obscure, try finding the book in WorldCat, a database available at most Libraries.

·        Scripture and many ancient sources are available on line.

·        Often you can find a review of a book you cited or read. You can find several of these if you want. If the book is in print, often has reviews.

·        Think about the role that one or more of the ideas you cited plays in the work in which it appeared, in a reviews of the work, in another book or resource, or in an online “Google Scan” or Library database.



An example drawn from a course in which we used a textbook written by Jonathan Kirsch: 

Bruce Chatwin asserts that God promised the Israelites a settled existence but, with a "mobile Ark," a tent as sanctuary, and an altar of rough stones, "He secretly desires for them the Desert." (Kirsch, 279, citing The Songlines, 194).  

In this example, you might address the question of what Kirsch thinks about Chatwin’s idea, or whether he cites others who have different perspectives. You can do this even if you are unable to find Chatwin’s book. Ideally, of course, you will find the book and check the quote in context.  If you include the full reference for Chatwin, you must note that you have not been able to see the book, unless of course you have located the book and confirmed the accuracy of the citation in context.

You can of course cite a work you read directly or the viewpoint of the author himself or herself. Here is a one-sentence review of what might be the most relevant point for your research paper made by B. Wasserstein in his Divided Jerusalem:

“Wasserstein presents a balanced picture of how the European powers jockeyed for position in Jerusalem up to 1948, but abandoned some of their historic concerns for a Christian-power role in the city after the end of the British Mandate.” 

You could cite a reviewer’s agreement or disagreement with Wasserstein., but you must also think about your opinion of the idea, of the context in which it appears, of the way it is used in the book.

In our examples, you might note that Kirsch mentions this while discussing the views of several authors about tensions between settled life and the ritual memorialization of the nomadic existence. If you have found Chatwin’s book, or another article by him, you can note whether Kirsch got it right or add perspective. Perhaps most important, you could write something about the significance:

“Kirsch’s reference to Chatwin’s observation suggests how deeply such phenomena were imbedded in Jewish sources. This whole discussion contrasts with the Jewish diaspora, when Jews wandered throughout the world, always recalling settled life in Jerusalem.”

In context, it is clear that this is your observation about your source.

·        For the preliminary exercise, two to three sentences about any of the ideas is sufficient. You can write more if you want, but keep it short. You can expand this in the paper.

·        Although you might be citing other people’s views, it should be clear that you have personally examined at least five resources to write this exercise. In our example, if you never found Chatwin, you cannot count it towards the five, but you would be able to count “Larry’s” review of Wasserstein on if you gave the URL reference in your bibliographic list.

REMEMBER that this section is supposed to tell me what you think--based on a certain amount of research—and help me guide you on the paper.