Lately, I've been trying to get students to appreciate the difference between gathering information and doing historical research that involves not only information gathering, but also interpretation.
This new book looks like it might help and it's on my reading list for the summer.
But one thing I might do next time I teach is start a conversation by asking students to comment on this brief exchange in the "Letters" section of this week's Nation (May 4, 2009, pp. 2,24--good luck finding it on-line):
A reader in New York writes:
"Christine Smallwood states that Elaine Showalter's book A Jury of Her Peers is the first literary history of American female authors... Frederick Ungar published American Womean Writers... [in the early 1980s]."
Elaine Showalter's response, quoted by Christine Smallwood:
"Jury of Her Peers is a narrative literary history, covering 350 years in twenty chapters and told by a single author with a point of view. The Ungar volumes, on the other hand, are critical reference guides comprising brief entries on many women writers, written by a range of contributors and arranged alphabetically."