ENG6361F: Web encyclopedia article (30%)

Final version:                Due Wednesday 5 January (15%)
First draft:                    Due on or before Wednesday 15th December.(15%)

This assignment is designed to give you experience

Past classes have produced some really fine work. Old English language and culture, and Old, Middle, and Early / Modern English:

Some resources


Getting going:

  1. Choose a subject that appeals to you. You will each be working on a topic that is (a) very specific, (b) different from everybody else’s topic. I’ve tried to add topics that reflect some of your interests (the interests of some of you!). You are welcome to choose your own topic, and I hope that you will consider doing this, but you must get my approval and input as early as you can. At the bottom of this page is a list of possible subjects that you can narrow down further. If your topic seems “easy”, your additional challenge will be to make it substantial and sophisticated. The topics listed here are first-come, first-serve (and I add to them as more topics occur to me), but please email me with a list of TWO OR THREE that you would be happy to work on. Once you’ve staked out a topic, your name will appear beside it.
  2. As you're proceeding with the next stages, narrow that subject down into a manageable topic.
  3. Find secondary sources on that subject. NB I am happy to help you with this, so feel free to ask. One problem is that I am not an expert on all of these subjects, but I'll do my best. One point of this exercise is for you to learn how to find sources in this subject area, so I'm happy to accompany you if not to lead you.

(a)    For linguistic topics, the relevant volume (OE, ME) of the Cambridge History of the English Language is almost always a very good place to get a sketch of the subject and a preliminary bibliography. Use also good broad overviews like Norman Blake’s History... For weird topics (or not weird topics), I’m happy to help; just ask.

(b)   Use the library catalogue to find books on your subject, and use those books and bibliographies (listed on yellow course booklist) to identify more books and articles on your subject. If you are working on an OE lexical topic, Old English word studies is essential: Toronto’s Dictionary of Old English (14th floor, Robarts) has an updated copy that you should probably have a look at.

(c)    There are some very good bibliographies on line. Have a look at my HELL pages, or do a search yourself. The table of contents for Anglo-Saxon England is now online, for instance.

(d)   Use the electronic journal indexes available at U of T. Linguistics & Language Behavior is particularly likely to get you the most linguistic hits. The ABELL and MLA are also worth searching for literary topics, and for medieval topics, the appropriate indexes (use the ‘start your research’ link from the U of T library homepage). You may find it easiest to work with online journal articles, but remember that many recent articles on HEL topics can be found not only in journals, but in conference proceedings (e.g., ICHL or ICEHL) and collections of essays (e.g., Fisiak, Kastovsky) that won’t be online.

  1. If relevant, find primary sources on your subject. It may be appropriate for you to do some research of your own. For instance, if you are investigating the language of a particular author, you should probably exercise your analytical skills on a text or two. If you are summarizing the development of a linguistic construction, it would also be useful if you came up with some of your own data/examples. The online OED is a convenient corpus. We’ve also got the ‘Helsinki Corpus of Old, Middle, and Early Modern English’ here, but it’s not parsed. Or, you may wish to use the Toronto Dictionary of Old English’s “Latin-Old English word wheel” if you are interested in how OE translated a particular Latin word.
  2. In an essay of no more than 1000 words, write an encyclopedia article on your topic. You will have to prioritize, synthesize, summarize, and evaluate the resources that you have been using. Append to your essay a list “For further reading” of a selection of the most useful works on the subject.
  3. Format. Please use “The Heroic Ethos” (Tierney-Hynes) as a model for your entry.

(a)    Main headings CENTRED and BOLD (title, your name, “For further reading”)

(b)   CENTRED, below title and name: copyright 2005

(c)    LEFT-JUSTIFIED, BOLD: any sub-headings within the entry

(d)   Throughout: Times Roman, 12 point

  1. Please submit it to me as an HTML attachment (virus-free, please), with “6361yoursurname.htm” as the filename (“6361percy.htm”)
  1. Have fun. I am delighted to interfere at all stages of the process.

Some subjects

Later study of OE or ME: E.g.

A linguistic topic (choose others from CHEL’s “syntax” or “morphology” chapters, or perhaps Blake’s History...)

     Genre/semantic field studies

If nobody has written a book or decent articles on your topic, these may be a bit more challenging. I would start with a two-pronged approach. Use a decent encyclopedia of your period/subject in order to get a sense of the 'content' of the topic -- i.e. were there any hugely important OE or ME texts/authors in your field, how did the knowledge of it get transmitted into England, etc. Use general books (Crystal, the Cambridge History of the English Language) to get some important words in the field and to get links to general HEL bibliographies -- CHEL2 mentions Serjeantson's book, which has useful lists of things, and HEL bibliographies (i.e. Fisiak's). Journal indexes (try MLA/ABELL as well as 'Linguistics & Language Behavior'--the latter has abstracts, which is useful in the quest for instant knowledge ...) There are quite a lot of people in Finland working on ME technical language at the moment. You may find yourself interested in whether your subject was written about in Latin, French, and/or English, too -- so you may need to think laterally.

The linguistic significance of individuals or of groups

OE/ME linguistics

“Contact issues”

      Standards and standardization