Department of English
Gerald T. Burke, Subject Librarian
I. General Purpose
The University Libraries' collection supports the undergraduate (B.A.) and graduate (M.A. and Doctor of Philosophy) programs of the English Department as well as faculty research. The Department of English emphasizes expository and creative writing, teaching, literary criticism, critical theory, and cultural studies in its graduate programs. The undergraduate curriculum is designed to help students to write effectively, to read critically, and to acquire a sense of the development of literature written in English and of its relation to society.
II. Subject and Language Modifiers
Languages: The primary language of the collection is English, with some critical and historical works in German and French. There is no attempt made to purchase translations into other languages of works by British and American authors.
Geographical Areas: English language literature and theory are purchased from around the world, with special emphasis on American, British, African, and Caribbean writers. Some effort is made to collect material by and about Canadian and Australian writers. There is significant interest in various ethnic and racial groups within the United States, most notably African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. There is an emerging interest in transnational literature, theory, and culture - that is, the study of material that crosses traditional national boundaries. Transnational studies is highly interdisciplinary, thus close collaboration with area studies subject librarians is essential.
Subjects: The English department is becoming increasingly eclectic and multidisciplinary, including traditional literary criticism, the study of non-canonical texts (i.e., those traditionally excluded from critical study), the study of old and middle English, cultural studies, popular culture and film theory, critical theory, transnational studies, composition and creative writing, and journalism. Great emphasis is placed on the critical study of cultural artifacts, including literature, film, and mass media.
Chronological Periods: The collection ranges from pre-1066 to the present.
III. Description of Materials Collected
Types of Materials Collected: Monographs and serials are acquired to support all levels of the program -- language and language theory, teaching theory and practice, literary themes, types, and genres, critical theory and practice, writing theory and practice, literary theory, and the history of literary criticism. Novels, short stories, and poetry are also purchased.
Critical editions of the standard authors of English and American literature are purchased as well as the publications of small presses in fiction, poetry, and criticism.
The Library also acquires video and DVD recordings of plays and motion pictures, including all of the Shakespeare plays as interpreted by various actors and directors. Cassette tapes of poetry and drama are also acquired. Dissertations are purchased when requested by faculty members. Concordances and indexes are purchased at the subject librarian's discretion.
Textbooks on how to teach writing are collected as well as anthologies of literature, such as The Norton Anthologies.
Types of Materials Excluded: The only items excluded are article reprints and heavily illustrated materials.
Interdisciplinary Factors: Many of the titles purchased for the English Department also support the interdisciplinary program in Linguistics, the curriculum of Women's Studies, and the minor in Journalism. There is also a great deal of overlap with the Theatre Department, the Department of Communication, the Department of Reading, and the School of Information Science and Policy.
IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]
The collection of Twentieth Century British and American literature is a Research Level collection of monographs; the rest of the PR, PS, and PN collection is at the Advanced Instructional Support Level, as defined by the Research Libraries Group. The collection supports research at the Master's degree level, and is able to support some doctoral research.
V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing
The New York State Library has an excellent collection of Nineteenth Century American literature which is heavily used by faculty and graduate students at this university.
VI. Internal Notes
The English-language approval plans provide excellent coverage of university press titles in literature and literary criticism. Increasingly, trade presses are publishing biographies of literary figures, collections of poetry, and correspondence and memoirs of literary figures; these titles are covered to some degree on the approval plans, but many must be purchased from discretionary funds. The Library has blanket-order plans with the Small Press Distribution Company and with Black Sparrow Press.
Standing orders for the Oxford and Cambridge critical editions of the standard authors are routinely placed whenever a new author is added. Also, great effort is made to collect the complete works of prominent contemporary literary figures, such as Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Chinua Achebe.
There is a great deal of cooperation with the Women's Studies and Africana Studies Subject Librarian. Titles dealing with women in literature, women authors, and literary works by women are purchased by the English Subject Librarian. Also the English Subject Librarian purchases literary works in English by Caribbean and African writers, Hispanic American writers, African American writers, Native American writers, and Asian American writers.
In the Library's Reserves room there is a permanent "English Department Reserve" collection of literature anthologies, such as The Norton Anthologies and other materials used by the various English 100 level courses of "Readings in ... ." Duplicates of heavily-used books, such as Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Morrison's The Bluest Eye, are housed in this reserve collection a well.
A separate fund code has been established from discretionary funds allotted to the English Department. This is used for the purchase of novels and short stories. Fiction is excluded from the BNA approval plan, but does come in on the Small Press plan. Titles are purchased at the request of faculty members and at the discretion of the English Subject Librarian. First novels are sought for purchase as well as novels and short stories by Native American, African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American writers. Novels by established literary writers are purchased exhaustively. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and Historical Fiction novels are purchased to a limited degree to support classes in these genres. For more detail, see the Fiction collection development policy that follows.
Titles for the Reference collection are ordered by the Subject Librarian for Reference upon the recommendation of the English Studies Subject Librarian.