THE IMPORTANCE OF DOING PRELIMINARY RESEARCH: In your last major essay, you included two quotes from a literary critic. That was just a warm-up. Now, for your research paper, you will need to find – and use – articles by at least thirteen different critics! Some of those thirteen articles will need to be about your novel, and the others will need to be about your film. Keep in mind, however, that you won’t be able to simply use the first thirteen articles that you find. That’s because you will have to keep looking and looking – way beyond the first thirteen – until you find at least thirteen truly helpful ones that really do discuss the theme you intend to analyze in the novel, and which really do discuss the theme (a different one) that you intend to analyze in the film. Here’s what you need to keep in mind. If you pick a novel and a film that are popular – but which critics don’t regard as important works of art – then probably very few, if any, critics have bothered to write seriously about that novel or that film. You need to do some careful checking right now, to be sure that a number of literary critics have written about each of your possible novel choices, and a number of film critics have written about each of your possible film choices. If you don’t do this preliminary research, then your research project may turn into a nightmare later, because you may not be able to find the required quotes for your paper. Don’t put yourself in that awful position. Please do all the preliminary checking, so you can be sure to have a successful experience with your research paper project.
For each possible choice, you MUST MAKE SURE four things ARE TRUE:
The film is available for purchase in Baltimore, or for purchase from the internet, or available to you via downloading or streaming.
Many literary critics have written about – and analyzed – the theme of the novel.
Many film critics have written about – and analyzed – the theme of the film.
PURCHASING THE BOOK
On the internet, you may wish to check for your novel (a used one is fine) at www.amazon.com
but a credit card will be needed to make the purchase. You can also call the largest bookstore in our area – Barnes & Noble at 410-385-1709 for their downtown location near the Power Plant – to find out if the store has the book in stock. If they don’t, and if they will have to order it for you, find out if they have it in their warehouse. If so, they can probably get it for you quickly, perhaps in just a few days. (Ask how long.) If not, they will have to order it from the publisher, but that might take six weeks or more, which is not a good plan.
PURCHASING – OR OTHERWISE ACHIEVING REPEATED ACCESS TO – THE FILM
Barnes & Noble also sells DVD’s. You can call the Inner Harbor store (410-385-1709) and ask for Brad in the video department to find out if they have (or can get) what you need. In addition, use the internet and check dvdpricesearch.com to find the least expensive site for ordering a particular DVD. You may also want to try amazon.com and facets.org, both of whom have large DVD collections. Downloading or streaming (from Netflix, for example) are also possibilities. In addition, you can call the film department (aka “Sight and Sound”) at the Central Pratt Library at 410-396-4616, and ask if they have what you want (but a parent or another family member, who is at least eighteen years old, will have to sign it out – or rent it for you – if you’re not yet eighteen years old).
PLEASE BE SURE TO READ REVERSE SIDE TOO
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN CRITICISM & REVIEWS You need real criticism of your novel and real criticism of your film. Keep in mind that, when a novel or film first comes out, people often write articles about it that simply tell part of the story and tell readers if they’re likely to enjoy it. Those articles are known as reviews. They are not criticism. Criticism is deeper, and includes analysis. However, the words “criticism” and “review” are sometimes used interchangeably. Therefore, you must actually read the articles you find, and you must be sure, for your novel and your film, that real criticism – with thematic analysis – can be found, not just reviews. Reviews generally do not include anything useful that you can quote in your research paper.
FINDING LITERARY CRITICISM
Go to the Pratt Library site, prattlibrary.org . Click first on Databases” and secondly on “Learn about books, authors, film, poetry, and plays.” Then click on “Literature Resource Center.” Enter your library card number, or you may use Mr. Bleich’s: 24170012643980. Click on “Login.” Then click on “Click Here” to proceed to the “Literature Resource Center.”
On the far right, click on the tab: “Gale Literary Index.” Choose “Title Search.” Type in the full title of the novel and – after scrolling to the lower box – type in just the author’s last name. Click on “Search.” If, after that, a screen says “Sorry, no documents were found,” you should probably forget about that novel because few (if any) scholarly critics have written about it. Instead, it would be wise to choose a different novel/film combo.
On the next screen – if Gale’s does have critical articles about your novel – you should see, in blue, the title and author of your novel. Click on it. Then you will see the name of a hardcopy Gale’s series (such as Gale’s Twentieth Century Literary Criticism), and a bold number indicating a particular volume in that series. After the bold volume number, you will see a list of pages – the more the better – with articles about your novel. Mr. Bleich suggests that you select a novel with at least 8 articles listed here. If there are fewer than 8, it would be wise to choose a different novel/film combo. If at least 8 articles are listed, good. Then, when we go to Central Pratt Library on an all-day field trip, you will be able to actually find and xerox those articles. For now, you just need to know that they exist.
FINDING FILM CRITICISM
Go to the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com , enter the title of the film, and click on ENTER. Then, if there’s more than one version of the film, click on the TITLE & YEAR of the one you want. On the next screen, look at the column on the right side, and scroll down to the “Quick Links” section. At the bottom of that section, click on “Explore More.” Then, scroll down – still looking at the right-side column – until you see a section named “Opinion.” Beneath “Opinion,” click on "External Reviews." That will take you to a list of links for reviews and critiques about the film. Mr. Bleich suggests that you select a film with at least 8 articles listed here. If there are fewer than 8, it would be wise to choose a different novel/film combo. If there are at least 8, click on each article, one at a time, and then read (or at least skim) it. Be sure, overall, that there are at least 4 articles which do include thematic analysis.
By the way, if you just want to know what the movie and novel are about – and whether or not it’s a story you’re likely to enjoy – here’s a suggestion. Go back to the first screen for that movie (on Internet Movie Database). Scroll down to STORYLINE, and you will see a very short summary of that story. If you want a more detailed summary, simply click on PLOT SYNOPSIS (which you’ll find at the bottom of the STORYLINE section).
[MAKING WISE NOVEL-FILM CHOICES 11-13]