Tuesday, May 31, 2011

David V. Urban: "Hopes for Milton Bibliography"

David V. Urban

Confessions of a Milton Bibliographer:
Reflections on the Past, Ruminations on the Present, and Hopes for the Future of Milton Bibliography

1> I am a dinosaur.  I have a bibliography forthcoming—IN PRINT.  The fact that I write these words for an online journal does not mitigate the veracity of my admission nor transform it into a charming paradox—it only disseminates the admission more rapidly.  What I mean to say, as I send off my freshly copyedited Milton bibliography manuscript to my editor, is that I recognize that I am perhaps the last of a dying breed, one that, if not utterly extinct, recognizes that it must give way to the inevitable mutability of a technology-driven future, a future that arrived some years ago while I strove to complete this project.  The project to which I refer is entitled, very simply, John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1989-1999, and it is scheduled for release by fall 2011.  It wasn’t originally my project; I inherited it, as it were, from a deceased scholar, Calvin Huckabay, by way of his editor, Paul J.  Klemp.  By accepting Klemp’s invitation to complete and edit Huckabay’s unfinished project, I embarked on a strange journey, both wonderful and tedious, which I will share in the ensuing pages.  My aim for this essay is to offer my reflections on that journey and, in the process, outline the history of Milton bibliography for the past eight decades, assess the current state of Milton bibliography, and consider possibilities for its future.*

2> My own involvement in this project can be traced to my appreciation for the work of earlier Milton bibliographers and their work’s tremendous aid to my early scholarship.  My story is as follows: I was early in my third year of my Ph.D., and my life was growing increasingly complicated.  Two years earlier I had entered doctoral studies at the comparatively mature age of thirty.  Married to a supportive but understandably concerned wife, having two masters degrees (I won’t go into that long story), eight years of teaching experience, and no children, I thought it prudent to finish my Ph.D. as expeditiously as possible to avoid excessive domestic and financial unrest.  To my eternal thanks, my ambitious plans stayed uncharacteristically on schedule, and although I was teaching two courses each semester, by May of my second year of doctoral studies I had completed my coursework, passed comprehensive exams (a milestone quickly followed by the discovery that my wife was pregnant with our first son), and had my dissertation prospectus approved.  During the ensuing months I began researching and writing with progressive urgency, baby Daniel was born, my wife lost her job, and I applied for forty-three professorial positions.  It was during this time that I began earnestly using Milton bibliographies.  The volume that my dissertation director specifically recommended to me was Huckabay and Klemp’s John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1988, but because the annotations to that volume were quite short, I found myself particularly drawn to Klemp’s own bibliographies, The Essential Milton, and “Paradise Lost”: An Annotated Bibliography, both selective bibliographies whose annotations averaged roughly a hundred words.

3> Empowered by these reference works and Edward Jones’s Milton’s Sonnets: An Annotated Bibliography, 1900-1992, I researched and composed my dissertation.  My methodology was simple: Instead of allowing my analysis of Milton’s texts to be controlled by particular strong critical voices, I just wrote my own critical discussions as I thought best while using comparatively few secondary sources, read through the aforementioned bibliographies to find studies addressing similar works and issues, and then interacted with such studies as I revised my project.  Aided by these bibliographic resources, I was able to complete the dissertation in a year’s time, with my project even being my department’s nomination for the university-wide alumni dissertation award.

4> Early during that year of dissertation writing, I sent Paul Klemp a personal e-mail to thank him for his hard work and let him know how much his bibliographies were helping my own scholarship.  To my surprise, he quickly wrote back, genuinely thankful for my appreciation.  He also approved of my aforementioned method of using bibliographies to aid my scholarship and told me that he followed a similar method in his own critical writings.  We corresponded a few times after that, and during the summer after my dissertation defense, as my family and I prepared to depart for my tenure-track position at a small college in the Southwest, Professor Klemp called to inform me of Calvin Huckabay’s recent death, and, telling me that he believed I had “the mind of a bibliographer,” he offered me the task of completing and editing (the latter with his help) Huckabay’s unfinished bibliography.  Deeply moved, I gratefully accepted his offer. To my overly eager and genuinely naïve mind, my situation seemed ideal.  I would have the privilege of completing this important bibliography while simultaneously revising my dissertation into a book.  But completing Huckabay’s volume quickly proved challenging beyond my expectations, and I began to discover firsthand why the enterprise of bibliography is such a difficult one.

5> Before continuing to describe my own experience, I will briefly outline the history of Milton bibliography since 1930 and then explain why I consider Milton bibliography as we know it to be at a serious crossroads.1  I use 1930 as my starting point because that year saw the publication of David Harrison Stevens’ Reference Guide to Milton from 1800 to the Present Day.  That volume, just over three hundred pages in length, lists 2,850 items dating from 1800 to 1928, including editions of Milton’s writings, scholarly books, and articles arranged in numerous classifications.  Although it does not explicitly announce so, Stevens’ bibliography attempts comprehensiveness, although of course such comprehensiveness was (and remains) impossible to achieve.  Stevens’ omissions were duly noted, however, by Harris Francis Fletcher, who the following year came out with Contributions to a Milton Bibliography (1800-1930).  A slim volume roughly half the length of Stevens’, subtitled a List of Addenda to Stevens’ “Reference Guide to Milton, Fletcher’s bibliography includes numerous items that Stevens missed, as well as items from 1929-1930.

6> Stevens’ and Fletcher’s annotations are noteworthy in a number of ways.  One is their brevity.  Stevens’ annotations are particularly short, often a mere ten words or fewer.  Moreover, Stevens’ and Fletcher’s brief annotations are often less descriptive than evaluative in nature, and some of these evaluations are downright caustic.  One in particular—Fletcher’s description of C. L. Barnes’ “Milton and Modern Science” as “fantastic and worthless” (122)—is explicitly mentioned in a review by the eminent Miltonist Denis Saurat.  Saurat questions the value of such an editorial approach for a bibliography, wishing instead for “more description and analysis” (413).  What Saurat considers most helpful is Fletcher’s practice of quoting salient sentences from particular works, something that Fletcher does fairly often, but by no means in the majority of his entries, and always without specifying the page number of the quotation. 2   But in general, neither Stevens nor Harris offers much more than a cursory description of most items.

7> The next major Milton bibliography to appear was Calvin Huckabay’s John Milton: A Bibliographical Supplement, 1929-1957.  Published in 1960, this bibliography includes nearly 2,000 items, following Stevens’ basic classifications and attempting comprehensive coverage while acknowledging the impossibility of such an enterprise.  Huckabay’s items are even more sparsely annotated than Stevens’ and Fletcher’s, with the vast majority of his entries containing no annotations at all and the others receiving a single—generally very short—sentence of summary.   A very few items contain two sentences of summary.  Only rarely does Huckabay quote from any of the studies that he lists.  Unlike Stevens’ and Fletcher’s bibliographies, Huckabay’s volume avoids judgment on the value of the items listed.  In 1969 Huckabay published a significantly updated volume, John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-1968.   This volume contains twice as many entries as its earlier incarnation.  Moreover, its annotations, while still relatively brief, are in general more substantive than those in Huckabay’s original bibliography.  The majority of items receive some annotation, and although annotations more than a sentence remain a rarity, the single-sentence summaries are noticeably longer.  Moreover, Huckabay quotes considerably more frequently from the items he annotates.  Throughout this updated volume, Huckabay continues to refrain from judgmental commentary in his annotations.

8> The next major Milton bibliography to appear was C. A. Patrides’ 1987 effort, An Annotated Critical Biography of John Milton.  Unlike the efforts of Stevens, Fletcher, and Huckabay, Patrides’ bibliography is self-consciously selective, containing 1,145 items, most published from the 1940s into the 1980s.  Many items contain no annotations at all, and the annotations that appear are strikingly brief—often a mere sentence fragment—and often containing Patrides’ explicit endorsement or lack thereof.

9> Whatever the differences between the bibliographies discussed above, the most noticeable common element between them is, regrettably, the extreme brevity of their annotations.  I call such brevity regrettable because, although offering short annotations is less labor intensive and conducive to timely publication, it prevents readers of these bibliographies, whether they use them to assist their own research or simply to gain a greater understanding of the field of Milton studies, from gaining any substantive understanding of the contents of the listed items much beyond that which a title might indicate.   With the stature and scope of the MLA International Bibliography—despite its considerable limitations3 —continuing to increase since its 1921 inception, not to mention lists of publications available through the OCLC network, any Milton-specific bibliography with minimal annotations would have a harder time justifying its independent existence.

10> It should be noted, however, that the minimalist efforts of Milton bibliographers through the late 1980s were not always duplicated by bibliographers of related authors.  In 1973, John R. Roberts’ John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1912-1967 appeared.  Roberts’ volume is remarkable both for its comprehensive coverage and for substantive annotations, which dwarf those offered in any of the aforementioned Milton bibliographies.  Moreover, this volume was followed by Roberts’ 1982 effort, John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1968-1978, another comprehensive effort containing even more substantive annotations.  And since the 1960s, Shakespeare Quarterly had been publishing its annual bibliography issue, volumes whose immense number of items often precluded substantive annotations but were nonetheless highly laudable for their thoroughness and yearly appearances.  These volumes were eventually replaced by Shakespeare Quarterly’s World Shakespeare Bibliography Online, an extraordinary enterprise I shall discuss further later in this essay.

11> Whatever Roberts’ accomplishments in Donne bibliography, substantive annotations within Milton bibliographies did not appear until the 1989 publication of Paul J. Klemp’s The Essential Milton: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies, a book that followed on the heels of Larry S. Champion’s The Essential Shakespeare: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies (1986).  A selective bibliography of 1,021 studies published between 1900 and 1987, Klemp’s volume contains thorough annotations of roughly 100 words each, often including significant quotations from listed items.  Klemp follows a similar format in his 1996 effort, Paradise Lost”: An Annotated Bibliography, which annotates 450 selected studies from the 20th century, emphasizing works from 1967 to 1995.  In between the publication of Klemp’s bibliographies appeared Edward Jones’ Milton’s Sonnets: An Annotated Bibliography, 1900-1992 (1994), another impressive effort that offered 516 substantive annotations, attempting comprehensiveness in its coverage of scholarship on this select group of Milton’s writings.

12> To be sure, Klemp’s and Jones’ aforementioned volumes represented significant forward progress in the field of Milton bibliography.  As a Milton scholar—and perhaps more significantly, as a one-time Milton dissertation writer—I can testify firsthand to their immense helpfulness to those who desire to better understand the sweep of Milton scholarship that these volumes cover and to employ such scholarship in their own work.  But there still remained no Milton bibliography that combined comprehensive coverage with thorough annotations.  Huckabay’s next volume (edited by Klemp), John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1988 (1996), was comprehensive in scope but, although its annotations were longer than Huckabay’s earlier efforts, they cannot be considered particularly thorough, being noticeably less substantive than those of Klemp’s and Jones’ volumes or of Roberts’ Donne bibliographies.  Indeed, the contrast between Huckabay’s annotations and Roberts’ became even more pronounced upon the 2004 publication of Roberts’ magisterial John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1979-1995.

13> When I accepted the invitation to complete and edit Huckabay’s final bibliography, I purposed to have the volume exhibit both the comprehensive scope of Huckabay’s earlier volumes and the kind of substantive annotations seen in Klemp’s and Jones’ bibliographies.  This meant checking the veracity of and significantly extending the vast majority of Huckabay’s existing annotations, as well as adding several hundred new items.  But in the painfully slow course of accomplishing these goals, I discovered what an arduous enterprise bibliography can be, and my discoveries have convinced me that the whole field of Milton bibliography needs to change its approach for future projects.  The very nuts and bolts of my job were highly problematic throughout.  One problem was that I had to check the thousands of quotations in the existing manuscript, but the manuscript didn’t include the page numbers to the quotations.  But perhaps the largest problem was that my first professorial job was at a very small school with a very small library, a significant distance away from the nearest major university library.  I still remember my first—and last—conversation about the bibliography with the director of our library.  When I asked him if the library subscribed to Milton Quarterly or Milton Studies, he was flabbergasted, even aghast.  “Those journals are very specialized, very specialized,” he said.  He also informed me that interlibrary loan requests needed to be moderate in number.  And very early into our discussion, he spoke the dreaded sentence:  “This isn’t a research university.”   And indeed it isn’t, and neither are many, many other schools—often, like my former institution, schools that offer an excellent undergraduate education—where potential bibliographers might work.  But the fact of the matter is that any scholar attempting to compile a comprehensive annotated bibliography needs access to numerous journals and books and almost certainly needs the aid of a truly indefatigable and longsuffering interlibrary loan librarian.  It also helps tremendously to have paid students and/or secretaries who can devote substantial time to assist one’s research.  And the vast majority of small colleges simply don’t offer such resources.  It was not until I moved to a more research-friendly institution two years later that I was able to make any significant progress on the bibliography.4

14> So perhaps the answer is that all bibliographers should work at research institutions, but there is a major caveat to this solution, because English departments at research institutions are often less than sanguine about giving tenure and promotion for bibliography projects.  And then there is the related matter that bibliographers, particularly those with junior faculty status, need to simultaneously work on other projects—usually traditional scholarly articles—if they are going to have anything to show for themselves besides a bibliography “in progress.”  Compiling a bibliography is a slow, arduous process, and if one is working on a large, well-annotated, comprehensive project, one cannot guarantee that it will be completed in time for one’s inevitable day of institutional judgment.

15> For me, pursuing bibliography has proven a double-edged sword professionally.  Positive aspects include my wide exposure to every kind of Milton scholarship from around the world. I have gained a deep respect for the work of many scholars, and I have developed a special appreciation for scholars whose efforts display the marked erudition of those who have quietly cultivated their craft as Miltonists, including those whose high quality of scholarship is not matched by their prominence in the field.  And I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have helped to produce, however tardy my efforts, the first Milton bibliography that offers both the comprehensive scope and thorough annotations seen in Roberts’ Donne volumes.  At the same time, work on this project has come at the cost of my own monograph’s prompt completion.  There is a certain irony in the fact that the dissertation that was swiftly completed with the aid of Milton bibliographies has had its revision into book form seriously delayed by my commitment to completing Huckabay’s final bibliography.  Sometimes in morbid moments of self pity, I apply Milton’s Sonnet 7 to my own situation, envisioning the scholars who finished their dissertations at roughly the same time as I but who have years ago published those dissertations as books as the equivalent of the “more timely-happy spirits” to whom Milton compared himself.

16> Having said that, I continue to believe in the value of annotated bibliography and of comprehensive bibliography in particular.  There is something truly wonderful about discovering for oneself and then giving broader exposure to quality scholarship published in less prestigious and/or less widely distributed venues.  But I also increasingly believe that significant bibliography projects should not be undertaken by one compiler alone, even if that compiler has an editor who assists him or her at various stages of the project.  Rather, I propose that future Milton bibliography projects be divided among a group of scholars, each of whom is responsible for a particular portion of the whole, under the leadership of two or three main editors.  In the model I envision, the bibliography could be completed in a manner similar to a collection of scholarly essays.  Such a collaborative model would make for more efficient project completion and would offer bibliographers the kind of camaraderie and resource sharing that would mitigate against isolation and discouragement and promote productivity and excellence.  Moreover, the ever-developing resources of the internet can allow for Milton bibliography, at a central online site, to be an ongoing project, one that begins its coverage of scholarship at the year 2000 and continues indefinitely with the aid of various contributors, under the ongoing guidance of two or three main editors.

17> Opportunities for doing bibliography on the web are especially important for Miltonists to consider because bibliography in general, and Milton bibliography in particular, is facing the painful reality that libraries simply are not buying bibliography-related volumes at the rate they once did.  An unfortunate example of this trend is seen in the sadly disappointing sales of Roberts’ 2004 Donne bibliography (Wadsworth-Booth), a work that is probably the most remarkably thorough single-volume literary bibliography I have ever seen and the winner of the John Donne Society’s award for the most distinguished book in Donne studies for that year.  As a consequence of such disappointing sales, it is becoming increasingly unprofitable for academic publishers to come out with new bibliographies.

18> I encountered this sad reality firsthand when, having completed the John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1989-1999 a year before my upcoming tenure decision, I was informed that Duquesne University Press would probably not be able to publish this volume without significant outside support.  Indeed, financial concerns, along with concerns about the overall viability of publishing a bibliography project in light of the other early modern projects the press was considering, contributed to a substantial delay in the publication of the volume.  Thankfully—very thankfully—financial support surfaced from a generous subvention grant from Calvin College’s Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship; in addition, Duquesne University Press plans to publish the bibliography as an e-book in early 2012 as part of the University Press Content Consortium, which will more widely disseminate the work and also provide additional income from the investment in this project. But as grateful as I am for these developments, such support or partnerships simply cannot be assumed for future bibliographic endeavors.  And it seems clear that future bibliography volumes will almost certainly not be disseminated as print books.  We Miltonists should ask ourselves: How shall we pursue bibliography in the future?

19> From my perspective, Miltonists have several possibilities, each of which is currently being used by scholars of Milton, Shakespeare, or Donne.  I will discuss them in ascending order from what I consider the least to the most attractive options.

20> The first possibility is simply to jettison the idea of comprehensive annotated bibliography altogether.  We could simply satisfy ourselves with Milton Quarterly’s summaries of select recent articles, and rely on the MLA International Bibliography, references in other scholarship, and perusal of particular journals and books to alert us to other promising work, sans annotations.  At the present, this seems to be Milton scholarship’s default position.  As far as I know, there is no current attempt being made to comprehensively or even broadly annotate Milton scholarship beyond 1999.  Such bibliographic inertia, I suggest, will result in a kind of scholarly elitism in which, with occasional exceptions, only the best-known forums for Milton scholarship are consulted by scholars and students.  The net effect will be a more pronounced neglect of Milton scholarship published in lesser-known venues and an overall slowing of momentum in Milton scholarship as a whole. Clearly this current state of affairs is unacceptable and should be addressed.

21> The second possibility is to continue the existing model of compiling comprehensive Milton bibliography: Miltonists could enlist another individual or two to begin compiling a new Milton bibliography beginning at 2000 and pursue the possibility of Duquesne University Press or some other publisher teaming up with an electronic aggregator to try to publish such a volume in a dual print/e-book format or simply as an e-book.  But this approach has serious drawbacks.   Significantly, it appears that Duquesne sees the financial writing on the wall and will likely let John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1989-1999 be its final bibliography, at least in the field of Early Modern studies.  Already many other publishers—the University of Pittsburgh Press, the University of Missouri Press, and others—have long since abandoned the publication of print bibliographies.  Even if the prognosis for publishing future bibliographies in book/e-book form is less doubtful than what I suggest here, any Milton bibliographer taking the traditional book or even e-book route must have sufficient institutional support to even consider such a commitment, lest market realities render his or her efforts unpublishable.   Moreover, publication of future Milton bibliographies in book form will assure that the lag time between bibliography publication and the works such a future bibliography annotates will continue to be regrettably pronounced.

22> A third possibility is to try to follow the model of the World Shakespeare Bibliography Online, an ongoing project, stunning in its comprehensive scope, thorough annotations, and up-to-date coverage.  This project, long connected to Shakespeare Quarterly, is published by Johns Hopkins University Press, maintained by Project Muse, and centered at Texas A&M University, where the entire enterprise is overseen by the venerable bibliographer James Harner.  But it is not realistic for the field of Milton bibliography to be able to duplicate the efforts of the WSBO—which currently contains over 127,500 annotated entries covering “Shakespeare-related scholarship and theatrical productions published or produced worldwide between 1960 and 2011” (Harner, World)5—anytime soon.  Significantly, the WSBO has been operating since 2000, representing the truly magnificent fruit of Shakespeare Quarterly’s five-decade commitment to publishing a comprehensive annual annotated bibliography.  Also, because of continued funding through the Folger Shakespeare Library, the WSBO also has expert, full-time staffing that far exceeds what Milton bibliography’s resources can provide in the foreseeable future.

23> A final, and I think the best, option for future Milton bibliography efforts would resemble the model being used by the distinguished website Digital Donne: The Online Variorum.  Remarkably, Digital Donne, through downloadable PDF files, gives free access to all three of Roberts’ aforementioned Donne bibliographies, having received permission to offer these resources from those volumes’ respective publishers, the University of Missouri Press and Duquesne University Press.   Moreover, Digital Donne also offers an additional Roberts volume, John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1996-2005.6  This 2011 volume is every bit as thorough as Roberts’ 2004 effort, but because of the previously discussed market realities, Roberts was not able to find a traditional university press publisher for this bibliography.  Consequently, Roberts published it directly on Digital Donne.  According to Digital Donne’s current president, Gary Stringer, Roberts is likely to publish additions to the latest bibliography on Digital Donne in one-, two-, or three-year increments, thus providing quicker access to his work than was possible when the constraints of print publication dictated waiting until he had in hand a quantity of material sufficient to justify publication of a book.  And, says Stringer, at some point in the future, Roberts’ efforts may well be carried on as a collaborative effort by a committee of Donne scholars who will work to keep the bibliography updated on Digital Donne.  Stringer also emphasizes the long-term affordability of maintaining such a web presence.  If the website is well run and based with a stable server, he assures me, the cost of keeping large documents on that site are comparatively negligible.

24> It seems clear to me that the time is right for Milton bibliography to establish a significant online presence.  The Milton Society of America’s internet-savvy new Secretary, Ken Hiltner of the University of California at Santa Barbara, has recently designed the MSA’s first website, and he and the MSA Executive Committee are open to using the MSA website to publish new bibliographic materials (Hiltner, “Milton”).  Clearly Milton studies does not have a dominant single bibliographer analogous to what the great John R. Roberts is to Donne studies.  But we do have a number of accomplished bibliographers who could oversee a collaborative online effort for future Milton bibliography.  In a recent conversation, Hiltner and I discussed the idea of an ongoing bibliography of scholarship dating from 2000 onwards on the MSA website, a bibliography that would accept bibliographic entries from a wide group of approved scholars and graduate students, overseen by several senior bibliographers.  Instead of waiting for a completed bibliography volume to post such annotations, the annotations could be posted as they are submitted and accepted, and thus be of immediate use to other scholars and offer contributing bibliographers the valuable satisfaction of seeing their work published in a gratifyingly timely manner—something that, I should add, would be an impetus for scholars to regularly contribute valuable annotated items to such an ongoing project.  Substantial contributions to this project could both serve as a way to initiate graduate students into the realm of professional Milton studies (and increase their subsequent marketability) and serve as a valuable portion of a tenure-track faculty member’s larger tenure portfolio, allowing the faculty member to demonstrate published accomplishment in the genre of bibliography without relying unduly upon bibliography for his or her tenure and promotion.

25> The MSA website could also imitate Digital Donne by securing permission from publishers to post older Milton bibliographies that are now out of print.  Given Digital Donne’s success in posting Roberts’ earlier volumes, it seems likely that the MSA would be granted similar permissions.  Stringer, who is also a longstanding member of the MSA, made clear to me that he and others running Digital Donne would be happy to assist the MSA in such efforts by sharing relevant electronic resources and expertise.

26> It is ironic to consider that in his 1931 bibliography, Fletcher envisioned overseeing an enterprise in which the larger Milton scholarly community would produce future Milton bibliographies rapidly, over five year intervals (6).  Obviously Fletcher’s collaborative vision never came to fruition, but eighty years later, it seems clear that the time for such collaborative bibliography has arrived.With the recent March passing of John T. Shawcross and the untimely 2009 death of Albert C. Labriola, the longstanding MSA Secretary, Milton Studies editor, and Duquesne University Press’ Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies editor, Milton studies as a whole is presently in a state of transition.  It seems to me that one of the best ways current Milton scholars can honor the memory of these forerunners is for us to make fuller use of the electronic resources before us.  I believe that developing Milton bibliography online through collaborative efforts is one of the most significant ways Milton scholarship can move forward in the days ahead.


*I would like to thank James Harner (Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography Online) Ken Hiltner (Secretary, Milton Society of America), Gary Stringer (President, Digital Donne) and Susan Wadsworth-Booth (Director, Duquesne University Press) both for granting me telephone interviews and for checking my essay to ensure that I represented our respective interviews accurately.  Thanks also to Brian D. Ingraffia, Paul J. Klemp, and Dean Ward for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this essay.  And a special thanks to Susan Felch and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, whose support of my forthcoming Milton bibliography helped make this essay possible.
1. In the ensuing discussion, I intentionally omit discussion of John T. Shawcross’ excellent bibliographic work on 17th century documents related to Milton because it does not represent the kind of annotated bibliography of 19th and especially 20th century editions and scholarship on Milton discussed in this essay.
2. Of the other bibliographies I discuss in this essay, those of Champion, Jones, Klemp, Roberts, and Huckabay/Urban/Klemp include page numbers for their quotations.  The other Huckabay volumes as well as the bibliographies of Patrides and Harner (WSBO) do not give page numbers for quotations.
3. For a discussion of the limits of the scope of the MLA International Bibliography, see Harner, “Some Suggestions.”  From the perspective of Milton studies, a rather stark example of the MLA International Bibliography’s limitations is its continued omission of Pruitt and Durham’s Milton’s Legacy, a volume that was awarded the Milton Society of America’s Irene Samuel Memorial Award for the best multi-author collection published in 2005.
4. Significantly, although Huckabay worked at the comparatively small Houston Baptist University, he conducted most of his research at nearby Rice University’s world-class Fondren Library.
5. In a recent telephone conversation, Harner noted that since the WSBO began in 2000, its annotations have become considerably more thorough than what they were when the annual Shakespeare bibliography still appeared in print as a yearly issue of Shakespeare Quarterly.
6. Roberts’ four Donne bibliographies can be found on the website Digital Donne under the “Resources” link.
7. In our March conversation, Hiltner mentioned that at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Early Modern Center’s recent conference, “The Future of Literary Studies, 1500-1800,” there was a general consensus affirming that future Early Modern literary studies will be increasingly collaborative in nature.
Works Cited:
Barnes, C. L.  “Milton and Modern Science.”  Nature 121 (1928): 831.
Champion, Larry S.  The Essential Shakespeare: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern StudiesBoston: Hall, 1986.
Fletcher, Harris Francis.  Contributions to a Milton Bibliography, 1800-1930: Being a List of Addenda to Stevens’s “Reference Guide to Milton.”  University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature 16.  Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1931.
Harner, James L.  Telephone interview.  24 Mar.  2011.
---.  “Some Suggestions for the Future of the MLA International Bibliography.”  Bibliography in Literature, Folklore, Language and Linguistics.  Ed. David William Foster and James R. Kelly.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.  153-60.
---.  World Shakespeare Bibliography Online.  Johns Hopkins UP, 2011.  Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
Hiltner, Ken.  “Milton Bibliography.”  Message to the author.  3 Apr. 2011.  E-mail.
---.  Telephone interview.  29 Mar. 2011.
Huckabay, Calvin.  John Milton: A Bibliographical Supplement, 1929-1957Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1960.
---.  John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-1968.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1969.
---.  John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1988.  Ed. Paul J. Klemp.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1996.
---.  and David V. Urban.  John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 1989-1999.  Ed. David V. Urban and Paul J. Klemp.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2011 (forthcoming).
Jones, Edward.  Milton’s Sonnets: An Annotated Bibliography, 1900-1992Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1994.
Klemp, P. J.  The Essential Milton: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern StudiesBoston: Hall, 1989.
Klemp, Paul J.  Paradise Lost”: An Annotated Bibliography.  Lantham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996.
MLA International BibliographyNew York: Modern Languages Association, 2011.  Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
Patrides, C. A.  An Annotated Critical Bibliography of John Milton.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
Pruitt, Kristen A. and Charles W. Durham, eds.  Milton’s Legacy.  Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna UP; Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 2005.
Roberts, John R.  John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1912-1967Colombia: U of Missouri Press, 1973.  Available as a PDF at Digital Donne.
---.  John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1968-1978Colombia: U of Missouri Press, 1982.  Available as a PDF at Digital Donne.
---.  John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1979-1996Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2005.  Available as a PDF at Digital Donne.
---.  John Donne: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1996-2005Digital Donne, 2011.
Saurat, Denis.  Rev. of Harris Francis Fletcher, Contributions to a Milton Bibliography (1800-1930)Modern Language Notes 48 (1933): 413-14.
Shawcross, John T.  Milton: A Bibliography for the Years 1624-1700Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1984.
Stevens, David Harrison.  Reference Guide to Milton: From 1800 to the Present DayChicago: U of Chicago Press, 1930.
Stringer, Gary.  Telephone interview.  25 Mar. 2011.
Wadsworth-Booth, Susan.  Telephone interview.  31 Mar. 2011.

David V. Urban is associate professor of English at Calvin College.  He is the co-editor of Visionary Milton, and his most recent articles on Milton appear in Milton Studies and Milton Quarterly.  He has also recently published essays on Fugard and Tolstoy and Pauline rhetoric.  He is completing a book on Milton and Jesus’ parables.  His most recent reviews appear in the Review of English Studies and Early Modern Literary Studies.  He can be reached at dvu2@calvin.edu.

Studies in Renaissance / Early Modern
Literature & Culture,
ISSN: 1946-1992,
Volume Four (2011): Texts & Contexts


1 comment:

Jayme M. Yeo said...

I'm currently working on a dissertation on 17th century British devotional poetry, and, having pored over Roberts's important bibliography for Donne, find myself wishing for a similar text--particularly available electronically--as I begin to move onto Milton. It seems that literary scholarship has, as a general rule, been slow to make use of the incredible resource that online collaboration provides, and we are indeed overdue for a format and venue that will allow for more voices to be heard in the critical arena. I think we cannot afford to lose the important resource that annotated bibliographies provide, and that a digitized format would meet current needs. Perhaps equally important for hosting institutions, a collaborative digitized bibliography would also help create or solidify a centralized "meeting place" for scholars of a particular author (in this case, Milton), a role that is becoming increasingly more important in our rapidly technologizing age. Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking article.