Tag Archives: primary and secondary sources

Writing with Sources

Please remember that it is your responsibility to quote accurately all material you cite, paraphrase, or summarize. If you do not understand the obligation to attribute words and ideas of others please talk with me, refer to a handbook, such as Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference, or consult the Keene State College Policy on Academic Honesty.

  1. Identify the speaker or writer of the quotation. Usually precedes the quoted material. (“Takaki proposes, . . .”).
  1. When you introduce a quotation, consider using verbs other than “says.” “Argues,” “adds,” “contends,” “points out,” “admits,” “comments,” “insists.” Or, with just the right verb, consider the use of a transitional phrase: “In an apparent contradiction, Takaki goes on to argue that. . . .”
  1. Distinguish between short and long quotations. Enclose short quotations (fewer than four lines of type) in quotation marks. Set off long quotations (more than four lines of type). Do not use quotation marks. To set off a long quotation, begin a new line, indent ten spaces from the left margin, and double space throughout. Note well that long quotations need adequate introduction and are most often immediately preceded by a full sentence ending in a colon.
  1. Don’t introduce a long quotation into the middle of one of your own sentences. Too often the reader will get lost as you transition from your own writing into a long quotation. It’s better to use a short introductory tag (as described above) and then follow the quotation with your own sentence.
  1. An embedded quotation (that is, a quotation embedded into a sentence of your own) must fit grammatically into the sentence of which it is a part.
  1. Quote exactly. Check your quotation for accuracy at least twice. If you intend to add or substitute a word in the quotation (to conform with 5), enclose the words in square brackets. Indicate omissions of material with an ellipses (three periods, with a space between each period). If you omit words at the end of sentence, indicate the omission with three periods (an ellipses) and end punctuation (a period).
  2. Use punctuation accurately. Commas and periods go inside quotation marks. Semicolons and colons go outside quotation marks. Question marks, exclamation points and dashes go inside if they are part of the quotation, outside if they are your own.
  1. Use single quotation marks for a quotation within a quotation. “Listening to the conversation following Howard Dean’s speech, I overheard an audience member say that she had ‘never encountered such a frank and honest politician.’ She went on to say, ‘I don’t know what to make of him. But I like him.’”
  1. Enclose title of short works in quotation marks. Longer works should be underlined or italicized.

A Few Examples

In his essay “The Making of Mountains and Rivers Without End,” Gary Snyder describes the poetic sequence Myths and Texts as his “first venture” into “the challenge of interweaving physical life and inward realms” (154). The challenge Snyder faces is more than this statement might suggest. For the “interweaving” of the physical world must take into account not only its present but its past state. “The piles of stone” stacked by earlier miners in “The Canyon Wren” and the “dendritic endless fractal streambed riffs on hillsides” in “The Mountain Spirit” together reveal evidence of the history of human presence on the land as well as the landscape’s “endless” geological transformations. These ongoing human and the natural processes are vividly evident in the following lines from the first two stanza’s of “Finding Space in the Heart”: . . . . Similarly, the “inward realms” of Snyder’s imagination are constructed out of history and not simply the more limited psychological realm of the poet. The indigenous traditions of North America and the cultural traditions of East Asia are just two of the inward “realms” present in Snyder’s imagination. . . . .

The most stunning and simple formulation of this crucial argument in favor of comparative thinking is by Arthur Kleinman, a psychiatrist and medical anthropologist at Harvard University. Kleinman’s “Eight Questions” do more than merely guide the medical practitioner toward the step of gathering information about cultural background. The questions prompt a reevaluation of one’s own cultural perspective as one that is not universal. As Kleinman explains, “If you can’t see that your own culture has its own set of interests, emotions, and biases, how can you expect to deal successfully with someone else’s culture?” (Qtd. In Fadiman 261). This position requires a radical reorientation from simply considering “the other” as outside the norm to understanding one’s own normative cultural conventions. This provocative reversal makes possible. . . .”

Whitman Ah Sing’s resistance to the hyphen (and the binary thinking about identity it perpetuates) is further illustrated near the opening of the final chapter in the novel, One-Man Show”:

There is no East here. West is meeting West. This was all West. All you saw was West. This is The Journey In the West. I am so fucking offended. Why aren’t you offended? Let me help you get offended. Always be careful to take offense. These sinophiles dig us so much, they’re drooling over us. That kind of favorableness I can do without. They think they know us—the wide range of us from sweet to sour—because they eat in Chinese restaurants. . . . I’ve read my Aristotle and Agee, I’ve been to college; they have ways to criticize the theater besides for sweet and sourness. They could do laundry reviews, clean or dirty. Come on. What’s so ‘exotic’? (308)

The tirade is triggered by the reviews of his play. Whitman is offended by the “sinophiles” who consider themselves knowledgeable about the experiences of the “Chinese.” Of course as the language of this passage suggests, Whitman is performing—he is on stage, speaking to the audience, waving the reviews in his hand. His veiled reference to Wu’s The Journey to the West reminds his audience, as he puts it elsewhere, that “we allthesame Americans” (282). His rambling monologue therefore has a very particular rhetorical end” to challenge his audience to see how easily they construct a binary opposition that forces him (“I’m common ordinary”) to be either American or Chinese.

Tripmaster Monkey’s critique of the critic’s cultural construction of ‘Orient’ as a system of representation shows how easy it is to essentialize a biologically inferior and culturally backward, peculiar, and unchanging other. Whitman’s on-stage tirade is consistent with Edward Said’s seminal argument that the Western discourse of “Orientalism” functions in other discourses on the other. As Said argues, this way of thinking provides the West with its conceit of cultural and intellectual superiority as well as its rationale for imperialism. For Whitman, the cultural conceit of intellectual superiority is projected both unwittingly and pervasively. In the third chapter, in conversation with Tāna, he elaborates on the pervasive way an apparently neutral descriptive taxonomy re-inscribes the discourse of the other:

Annnotated Works Cited

Diane Simmons. Maxine Hong Kingston. New York: Twayne, 1999.

Twayne’s United States Author Series provides the reader with a general critical overview of the life and work of its featured authors. The volume on Maxine Hong Kingston begins with a biographical essay. The book then traces the development of major themes in hong Kingston’s books The Woman Warrior, China Men, and Tripmaster Monkey. The biographical essay and six additional chapters are especially attentive to the cultural reception of Kingston’s work following the publication of The Woman Warrior in 1978. An Appendix includes an interview with Maxine Hong Kingston by Diane Simmons and a useful (but now incomplete) bibliography of sources.

Hunt, Anthony. “‘The Hump-Backed Flute Player’: The Structure of Emptiness in Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 1.2 (Fall 1993): 1–24.

Anthony Hunt is among the most knowledgeable readers of Gary Snyder and this article offers new information about the making of Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End. Although Snyder completed MRWE in 1996, this essay illuminates a crucial part of the text, “The Hump-backed flute player,” a poem that appears as the final poem in the second section of the 1996 edition. The image of the Hopi Kachina figure is especially important, argues Hunt, in understanding Snyder’s ecological/Buddhist themes. The presence of Kokopilau registers a cultural awareness grounded in the creation and migration stories of the Hopi as well as the Zen-inspired meditation on interdependency, emptiness, and impermanence.

The Hmong Resource Center  www.hmongcenter.org/

The Hmong Resource Center provides a comprehensive collection of Hmong-related literature, scholarly research, and multimedia materials. The site includes links to census data, bibliographies, Hmong arts, a recently revised Hmong dictionary, and the online Hmong Studies Journal.

The Hmong Studies Journal    www.hmongstudies.org/

The Hmong Studies Journal is a unique and established peer-reviewed Internet-based academic publication devoted to the scholarly discussion of Hmong history, Hmong culture, Hmong people, and other facets of the Hmong experience in the U.S., Asia and around the world. The Hmong Studies Journal has published 6 online issues since 1996. The Hmong Studies Journal is the only peer-reviewed scholarly journal in the world devoted to academic studies related to the Hmong diaspora and Hmong culture and history.

“Snyder, Gary. “Remarks for the California Biodiversity Council, Grass Valley / Nevada City, 6 June, 1996.” http://ceres.ca.gov/biodiv/snyder.html



Research Notebooks


Big Trees of California Southern Pacific Company San Francisco, California (public domain)

Your Research Notebook is due on Thursday April 7 in class. The Notebook will record the materials you have gathered as well as your thoughts about the materials.

The most important element of the research notebook is the primary sources. Your primary sources may include a range of materials: photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, film or YouTube videos, drawings or illustrations, maps, memoir, autobiography, government documents, nonprofit board minutes, etc.

The secondary sources you have gathered for your project are part of your research; however, these secondary sources are best understood as other people’s projects-their explanations of California. That is, your work is to create your own project and then to use each secondary source (from, say, an artist, music critic, historian, or journalist) to help you do your work, to tell your story, to help you (and us) explain California.

Your Research Notebook will have five parts:

A Working Project Title. Please give the title some thought. The title should be descriptive. It should represent the progress you have made since the project proposal due date of March 10.

A One-Sentence Summary of the Project. The summary should describe the project and the purpose of the project. The purpose is how the project offers an interesting story on the natural and/or the cultural history of California.

A List of Primary Sources. Include the URL or print citation for each of the sources and write a one-sentence annotation for each source that describes the source and how you are using it.

A List of Secondary Sources. Include the full print citation (or the URL) for each of the sources and write a one-sentence annotation for each source that describes the source and how you are using it.

A Process, Method, and Product Statement. This statement will be 1-2 pages in length. I want to hear specifically what you have done during the past few weeks, what you are currently doing, and what you plan to do before submitting the first version of your project for review on Thursday April 21. Describe the changes that have taken place in your understanding of your project. Describe what you have learned. Describe what you want to share and why what you have to share matters. In almost every case the materials your are gathering will change what you set out to do. As you gather and organize materials you will be learning from each object as well as from the ways that the objects are beginning to fall into a relationship of some kind.

If for some reason you are unable to be in class on Thursday April 21 you will need to email me the project, or the link to the project site, no later than our class meeting time.

Primary Source Examples

The Shirley letters from California mines in 1851-52 

A series of twenty-three letters from Dame Shirley (Mrs. Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe) to her sister in Massachusetts, and now reprinted from the Pioneer magazine of 1854-55. Includes a synopses of the letters, a foreword, and a list of typographical and other corrections and emendations. The Shirley letters offer insight into the living conditions of a woman who came to California during the Gold Rush in the 1950s.

Mary Cone, Two Years in California 1876

A resident of Marietta, Ohio, Mary Cone spent two years in California in the 1870s. Two years in California offers a nineteenth-century view (by a woman) of the the state’s history, climate, agriculture, and geography and a description of its regions: Southern California (San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara), the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys (with chapters on individual Sacramento ranches), Northern California’s redwoods and Mount Shasta and the same region’s other tourist attractions (San Francisco, Mount St. Helena). Separate chapters discuss the Chinese in California and the author’s visit to Yosemite.

Kim Stringfellow. The Mohave Project. mohaveproject.org. Accessed March 22, 2016.

The Mojave Project is an experimental transmedia documentary that explores the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert. The themes of the project offer different but complimentary perspectives on the California Desert: Desert as Wasteland; Geological Time vs. Human Time; Sacrifice and Exploitation; Danger and Consequence; Space and Perception; Mobility and Movement; Desert as Staging Ground; Transformation and Reinvention.

Secondary Source Examples

Jo Ann Levy. They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2014.

This book adds to the literature of the Gold Rush the experiences and stories of women in the California Gold Rush through letters, journals and reminiscences. The book offers excerpts from primary materials that will be useful for my project and a secondary source that helps add women’s experiences and social presence in California during the 1850s.

Albert L. Hurtado. Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California. U of New Mexico P, 1999.

This book focuses on the history of the American frontier from the 1760s to the 1850s when the territory was controlled by Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The book focuses on sex and gender and race through social activities and family life in Native American, Anglo American, Hispanic, Chinese, and mixed blood persons and communities.

Please post questions about the project process in the “Leave a Reply” column at the bottom of the post. I will respond to the questions. And the whole class will have access to the questions as they arise.