The Online Keats-Shelley Journal Bibliography:
A Brief Introduction
Over the past three or four decades the annual bibliography published in the Keats-Shelley Journal has come to be an indispensible resource for students and scholars working on the later Romantic writers. I hope the most recent edition of the bibliography, appearing in the closing pages of volume 49 of the Journal, is no exception. Still, as is perhaps fitting for the last issue for works published in the second millenium, the present incarnation of the print bibliography is also a transitional workone that is more tightly coordinated with this internet counterpart than its predecessors have been. The closer integration has significant implications for both the print and the online versions of the bibliography.
Experienced readers of the Keats-Shelley Journal will note that, at least in outward form, the current installment of the print bibliography seems of a piece with the Journal's traditional practice: the bibliography covers mainly works published in a single year (1999), there are the familiar divisions between works on Romanticism in general and works primarily about one of the overlapping "circles" of late-Romantic writers, all the items (including book reviews) are listed by author's last name, many of the items are accompanied by brief descriptive annotations, and so forth. This has long been the design of the bibliography, and many readers have found the structure to be quite serviceable. It is convenient to skim, and the index makes it reasonably easy to locate writers and scholars whose work appears in the bibliography. Nonetheless, like virtually all annual print reference works, the Keats-Shelley Journal bibliography has also been subject to the limitations of the form. For example:
- In any print bibliography, space is always limited; thus, regardless of the abilities and resources of the bibliographer, descriptions of individual items must always be less detailed than one might hope.
- Because of the annual publication deadlinethe bibliography has to go to press in May for publication in fallit has not always been possible for the bibliographer to lay hands on each item included;
as a result, the annotations have tended to be somewhat inconsistently supplied.
- Because scholarly reviews frequently appear two or three years after the publication of the reviewed book, linking a book to its reviews has tended to be a tedious task of searching through the indexes of several editions of the bibliography to identify a handful of individual entries.
- Since the author-centered "circles"the traditional organizational template for the bibliographytend to overlap, it is often difficult to know where to place a work that spills over these somewhat arbitrary distinctions. The present bibliography lists, for instance, Jeffrey Cox's recent monograph on the Cockney School with its subtitle, "Keats, Shelley, Hunt, and their Circle." The book is cataloged in the "General Romanticism" section of the print bibliography; hence, a reader looking only in, say, the Keats section will not find Cox's work. Again, a thorough search requires some considerable page flipping and note taking as one jumps between bibliography and index.
- And finally, once a print bibliography goes to press, errors and omissions are virtually impossible to correct.
Such are some the limitations inherent in any annual print bibliography, but there are also some considerable advantages to the print bibliography that are as yet unmatched by any electronic resource. It is, for example, far easier and more comfortable to browse through a print source than to search an electronic file. Such browsing makes possible a thousand serendipitous discoveries that are often intellectually provocative but that a bald database search makes difficult at best (and impossible at worst). It would, of course, be desirable to preserve the considerable strengths of a print bibliography even as the work begins to adapt to an electronic format. The challenge in building this online bibliography, then, has been to use the capabilities of hypertext to overcome some of the limitations inherent in an annual print bibliography while simultaneously striving to make the resulting electronic bibliography as comfortable and easy to navigate as the Keats-Shelley Journal itself.
The online bibliography borrows its basic structure from the original printed in the Keats-Shelley Journal. In fact, users will note that a prominent link on the homepage leads to a large central file called the Letterpress Bibliography which, as its name suggests, is an online version of the printed bibliography, complete with its subdivisions into sections on Byron, Hazlitt and Hunt, Keats, and The Shelleys. (This Letterpress Bibliography strives to be comprehensiveit should list each and every item cataloged for 1999.) Additional links on the homepage lead directly to author-specific bibliographies.
Readers will soon note, however, that these files are not simply transcriptions of the print source. There have been some substantial changes.
First, note that the author-specific bibliographies (as opposed to the author sections within the main Letterpress Bibliography) have been further dividedHazlitt and Hunt each have their own files, as do Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. These more precisely defined author bibliographies are made possible by the relative freedom of space in an electronic environment since individual works can now be repeated in different author-specific bibliographies. Thus, while Cox's book on the Cockney School may appear only once in the Letterpress Bibliography, it also appears in the P. B. Shelley bibliography, the Keats bibliography, the Hunt bibliography, and so forth. This seemingly minor alteration has a major advantage in the general utility of the online bibliography: Readers should be able to view (and print) relatively complete author-specific annual bibliographies without needing to resort to the index to piece together several disparate individual items.
Second, all book reviews have been stripped from the main bibliography and listed alphabetically by reviewer in a separate file called, predictably enough, "Reviews 1999." Readers interested in locating reviews by a particular scholar or simply interested in scanning citations for book reviews published in 1999 should consult this comprehensive reviews file. Most Web browsers, incidentally, will also allow readers to search the file for any keyword. Thus, one rough-and-ready technique for locating reviews of a particular book is simply to search the file for some keyworda monograph author's name, for exampleassociated with that book. (For more information on locating reviews of a particular book, see below.)
Third, most book-length items (monographs and edited collections) in the bibliography are listed not only in the bibliography pages themselves but also in individual Web pages that can contain considerably more information than the mere citation and bibliographer's annotation. For example, this
link will open a browser window containing a page of information on Cox's Cockney School book. Some of the material available on this pagethe citation and annotationis duplicated from the bibliography proper;
but other material is new. For instance, the page presents the table of contents of the relevant monograph, a listing of scholarly reviews, and even a link to the publisher's Website. (The page could easily be expanded to include other sorts of information, from authors' abstracts to readers' comments.)
These individual monograph/edited collection pages open all sorts of possibilities for the bibliography. Most obvious, perhaps, is the immediate link between a scholarly book and its reviews. As the bibliography continues to develop and as additional years of work are cataloged, it should be possible to list all the reviews of a given monograph on a single page thus avoiding the index- and page-flipping challenge posed by the annual print bibliographies. Readers interested in finding out about a particular monograph should be able to print fairly full descriptions and lists of reviews, a capability that will facilitate the processes of note-taking, effective library research, and even library acquisitions. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly common for journals to publish reviews, if not complete articles, on the Web; hence, the pages in the present bibliography that list reviews can now link directly to the full text available on some external site. (Nicholas Roe's review of the Cox book demonstrates the possibilities heresimply click the URL for the review to see the full text.)
Eventually, we hope to provide individual item pages for all article-length pieces as well. Such pages would make it possible for a simple search engine to retrieve sets of items based on keywords supplied by the reader. In any case, it is our hope that the bibliography will soon begin to take advantage of the electronic capacity for searching, sorting, and sifting information; the aim is to produce a comprehensive and malleable bibliography written by Romanticists for the use of Romanticists.
And finally, a note about the coverage of the Bibliography. Considerable effort has been made to include all substantial critical and/or bibliographical work published in 1999 relevant to the second-generation Romantic writers. Annotations have been provided for items of article length or longer dealing with one of the focal writers of the BibliographyByron, Keats, Hazlitt, Hunt, Percy and Mary Shelley. Items of more general concern to Romanticists as well as items about the first generation Romantic writers have been included, but usually without annotation. Likewise, the listing of reviews is offered without annotation. Given the limitations of library holdings and bibliographical research databases, some omissions are regrettable but probably inevitable. Please send any additions and corrections to the bibliographer, Kyle Grimes.
A bibliography like this is a collaborative effort. While the basic design for the online Keats-Shelley Journal Bibliography is my own, the resource would not exist without the encouragment of Steve Jones, the editor of the Keats-Shelley Journal, and Lee Person, Chair of the Department of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition, Heather Martin, Eddie Luster, and Jilla Smith have all provided assistance with the research and Mike Duvall and Carl Stahmer have provided some very able technical assistance. I am most grateful for the help.
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