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Annotated bibliography MLA, scholarly work

  • Description of the Assignment:
  • Specifics

Since reading about and studying the works of several writers of the 19th and 20th century American literary tradition, we have learned a lot as a class about these important literary, social, and historical movements.I want you to learn even more.For this assignment, you are to create an annotated bibliography centered on your choice of two representative writers.

You should locate and carefully read a minimum of six articles.You will find prepared bibliographies at the bottom of the biographical information located in our anthology. However, I do want to encourage each of you to find a combination of older and more contemporary criticism.

Primary sources: at least two representative writers from our course timeline

  • one writer that we have covered and discussed in our online class reading assignments


  1. one writer who was not formally assigned in class but is a representative author/poet/essayist of American literature and who can be found in our anthology

Secondary Sources: At least 6 articles to be selected, evaluated, carefully read, and annotated. I suggest that you split the articles evenly between the two writers, three for each.

Secondary Source Requirements:

Students are expected to find and study academic articles about their selected subject matter. Students should evaluate and analyze the articles based on credibility, reliability, and relevance.

Unacceptable articles include those found on homework help sites, personal blogs, discussion boards, or encyclopedias.

Documentation Style: MLA

Points Possible: 100


  1. What is an annotated bibliography and what is its purpose?
  2. An annotation is a brief description of a critical, scholarly piece of writing. Each annotation should include bibliographic information. For this writing assignment, the annotations should be critical, not descriptive. The student will need to go beyond writing a mere summary or abstract.
  3. The purposes are multiple:

The activity teaches students how to evaluate sources for research purposes.

Students learn to compose brief reactions to a scholarly work.

Students engage critical thinking skills to determine the relevance and integrity of the sources.

Students review the major components of audience: they determine the audience for the original article and determine whether or not the source will be useful to their own intended readers.

Students use library resources and build upon the skills they will need in other upper level college courses.

Finally, students gain knowledge of the subjects they are investigating. They are able to learn how professional writers view and critique literary works.

  1. What should the annotations include?

1.Complete bibliographic information

2.Some or all of the following:

  1. Information to explain the authority and/or qualifications of the author. For example: “Dr. John Guzlowski, a literature professor at Harvard University, based his article on three years of extensive research.”
  2. Scope and main purpose of the work.For instance, is the purpose to explain an often overlooked element in the work of one of the authors you have selected or to assert a theory on the meaning of a particular work?

c.Point of view or perspective from which the article is written. Note if the article is biased, reliable, or cogent.

d.Intended audience and level of reading difficulty.

  1. A personal comment on and evaluation of the legitimacy of the work.


  1. Which steps should I follow to successfully complete this assignment?

Creating an annotated bibliography requires the utilization of a variety of critical thinking skills you will use throughout your academic and professional careers: precise exposition, compact analysis, and careful library research.

First, locate and record citations to articles that may contain useful & interesting information and ideas on your topic.

Next, carefully read and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your author and/or her work.

Suggested: Print copies of the articles you plan to use so that it is easier for you to highlight information you may want to quote, paraphrase or summarize in your annotation.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Check your MLA manual or use

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that

(a) evaluate the authority or background of the author,

(b) comment on the intended audience,

(c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited and/or

(d) explain how this work illuminates your understanding of your bibliography topic.

During the writing process, you need to review your writing to ensure that you have not borrowed the writer’s words without placing them in quotation marks. Also, you may not use an abstract in place of your own articulated understanding of the work.

Plagiarism will result in a grade of F for the assignment and course.

Here are a few links that give more information and examples of annotated bibliographies:

This web site contains a video instruction—quite useful for visual learners!


Last Updated on February 11, 2019

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