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J A N R O U S H Utah State University Research in Western American Literature 1988-89 One of the technological advances in computers which makes keeping track of new research much easier is the CD -R O M . C D -R O M trans­ lates as “compact disc/read only memory,” meaning that the user can only read, not add to, the existing material. Each disc measures less than five inches in diameter and stores massive amounts of information: up to 500 million bytes of data, or 150,000 to 250,000 printed pages of text. C D -R O M s containing a number of databases are becoming readily available. Most important to the research for this column, U M I has put Dissertation Abstracts onto C D -R O M . Two discs make up their Archival Edition. Disc 1 contains 750,000 citations for doctoral dissertations and masters theses from 1861 through June, 1980, though the accompanying abstracts must be obtained from the printed volumes. Disc 2, however, con­ tains both citations and abstracts for dissertations and theses written from July, 1980, through June, 1984. Additional discs are then issued every six months with updated information. All technology has its limitations. First of all, databases are only as good as the sources they index; if information is not contained in the original, it will obviously not appear on the C D -R O M . Another drawback is the inherently limiting factor of keywords. The user needs to strike a balance between searching so broadly that numerous extraneous citations appear and narrowing so thoroughly that pertinent ones are missed. If an exhaus­ tive search for information is not required, and if C D -R O M ’s six-month time lag is not a problem, then searching for information by C D -R O M is by far the fastest and easiest method of accessing data. But to consider whether a citation/abstract is pertinent to research in western American literature, I find it necessary to browse, albeit quickly, through all titles in many diverse sections, from architecture to women’s studies. Coming up with enough accurate keywords to accomplish the same browsing via com­ puter is infeasible at this time and may well always be. 358 Western American Literature W hat did this year’s browsing reveal? First of all that minorities— in this case women and Indians— are playing an increasingly important role in both the fiction and non-fiction written about the West. O f the seventy-three dissertations and theses listed this year, a significant portion relate to studies of or fiction about women (16) and Indians (17). Specific authors appearing frequently within these minority groups are Willa Cather, who figures in seven different studies, and D ’Arcy McNickle, whose fiction and life are studied. The only other author who appears frequently is M ark Twain, particularly in relation to Huckleberry Finn. An interesting twist to the Cather studies is that two contain echoes from across the ocean: “A Green Thought in a Green Shade” : The Garden M otif in Willa Gather’s Fiction” and A Pilgrim’s Progress Toward Faith: Willa Cather’s Quest for the “Thing N ot N am ed.” Another apparent interest can be noted in the number of studies about the landscape or environment, such as Mountains to M atch the M an: National Identity and the M ountain in American Literature, Beginnings to 1860; Trapped by Society, Imprisoned in the Wilderness: Captivity in American Literature, 1680-1860; ovTopos and The Rhetoric of Prairie Poetry. CO M PLETED MASTERS THESES American Literature Barrow, William David, III Orality, Literacy, and Heroism in Huckleberry Finn. (M.A.) University of North Texas, 1986. Etheridge, Charles A History of East of Eden Criticism, 1952-1988. (M.A.) Texas Christian University, 1988. Heilmann, Mary Mark Twain’s Dream Self and Satan: A Discussion of Dream Psychology in The Mysterious Stranger. (M.A.) Duquesne University, 1988. Weeks, Jonina A Contemporary Western Writer, Gerald Haslam: His Means to a New West and the World. (M.A.) Sonoma State University, 1988. American Studies Hartle-Schutte, Maureen Contemporary Usage of the Blessingway Ceremony for Navajo Births. (M...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 357-365
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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