Annotated Bibliography Assignment—Due November 2, 2000

This assignment will not only help you assemble sources for your final project, but it will also help others who are investigating the same field. It consists of three steps:

1. Choose a topic having to do with the Enlightenment and find eight books or articles that have something to do with it.

2. Write a paragraph or two summarizing the general trends you can perceive in these books and articles, including what you think might be fruitful areas for further investigation.

3. Create bibliography entries for each item.

Each annotated bibliography entry should begin by identifying the source being annotated in correct MLA Documentation and include four items:

1. A brief description of the author's topic, thesis, and methodology.

2. A concise outline of the main divisions, sections, or points in the text.

3. A statement about the author’s goals and the intended audience for the text.

4. A description of the text’s utility for scholarly inquiry, that is, what use it could be to a scholar.

Each of these entries should take about half a double-spaced page, so your entire assignment should be about five pages long.


How do I choose a topic? It’s almost arbitrary, but choose something you want to investigate further. Look through the books, and find something you like. Then connect the person, text, painting, or musical work with some thematic topic that will help you narrow the search. After you have done some preliminary research, you will narrow the topic further, but for now you just want to find out what’s out there. If you’re stuck, come see me in my office hours, or send me an email (

How do I find the books and articles? First, use a standard reference work to get an overview of the topic. Then, look up some of the standard works on the subject, as identified by the reference work, an expert on the subject, or a subject bibliography. In addition, do database searches by subject and keyword in the Humanities Index, the MLA database, Melvyl, and Pegasus. To narrow the field, find particularly relevant and recent works and see what they cite in footnotes and their bibliography. In general, keep thinking, and evaluate your sources as you go.