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Art Books As Source Material

Given the sorts of things I write papers about, I occasionally have to figure out ways to cite some very weird media in my bibliographies. Thank God for e-mail -- it means that I can take a citation of "something I once heard a cantor say," get it in writing, and have an actual document to cite. There is the juggernaut that is Turabian's manual for writers, with its chapter full of examples of how to cite everything from a regular book to an unpublished interview or even a painting. There are people who work hard to figure out how to cite the most obscure sources.

However, all that effort is as naught against the forces of a source that, out of some publisher's peeved perversion, deliberately makes itself difficult to cite. Art books are the major culprits here. I needed one fact from one of two introductions to a collection of old Little Orphan Annie strips from the 1930s and 1940s. Simple, right? It's in a book, and Turabian helpfully shows you how to cite an introduction.

Ha. Ha ha ha. The official author of the book is Harold Gray, who created the strip. Unfortunately, he died before that introduction was written. The other introduction is by Al Capp, but no one will cop to having written the introduction I wanted to cite. So much for "author." There's also no page number on either of the introductions. In fact, there are no page numbers anywhere in the book. In and of itself, this does not faze me -- I learned how to deal with that sort of citation during Le Thesis. The two introductions take up only four pages, so it's easy enough to locate the fact that I cited. But what if I'd cited dialogue from the strip? You'd never be able to go through and find the source then, no matter how careful my citation was.

I tell ya -- I spend a whole year in various bibliography classes learning how to do right by my sources, and this is how they repay me? What am I, chopped liver?


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 8th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC)
How did you end up citing that?

I think, for the in-text note, I did (Gray 1970: n.p.), with N.P. standing for "no page." For the bibliography entry, I did a standard author-date citation, which is the way social scientists and ethnomusicologists cite, under Gray's name. I figure, if no one's going to own up to having written a posthumous biography of Gray, then they don't deserve their own citation. So there.

You've been so quiet. Very busy with studying and writing papers?

Yup. Exactly. This here is Week 10 of the winter quarter. I have a Hebrew final today, the last Southeast Asian class, and a few somewhat vague "deadlines" for that and Global Film Musicals. Then I think we have Exam Week and Spring Break Week, and then the spring quarter begins.
Mar. 8th, 2007 07:53 am (UTC)
Do you think there's someone out there sniggering and rubbing his hands together at confounding the scholars?

Mar. 8th, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Without a doubt. We hold that particular truth to be self-evident.
Mar. 8th, 2007 11:31 am (UTC)
LOL. It does seem perverse. This is why I have an editorial assistant.
Mar. 8th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
Ah, well. If Professor Language Person needs an editorial assistant to help with citation, then I don't feel so bad any more.
(no subject) - dawtheminstrel - Mar. 8th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Mar. 8th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dawtheminstrel - Mar. 8th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
You have to love citations. In my last degree we used MLA style and for this one we have to use APA (I think that acronym is correct). The differences are driving me insane.
Mar. 8th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
We use Chicago style, to the surprise of absolutely nobody.
Mar. 8th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
You're freaking me out here, cut it out! What's the answer?!
Mar. 8th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)
I have no idea what the answer is. I just cite the book, give as much information as I have, and hope for the best. And it's such a piddling citation, too. I wanted to cite the fact that Little Orphan Annie was a radio show, and that Shirley Bell was the lead actress.
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 15th, 2007 07:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Mar. 15th, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 16th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Mar. 16th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 16th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 17th, 2007 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 17th, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 17th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 19th, 2007 06:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 20th, 2007 08:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 20th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Mar. 19th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
*Vaguely remembers having to do citations and bibliographies.* **Breathes big sigh of relief at no longer having to do such.**

Pony, even talking about the most unpromising of topics, you are a breath of fresh air.
Mar. 9th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
I aim to please.

Given my career path, I will be doing citations and bibliographies for the rest of my natural life. I guess it's to my advantage to do them as well as possible -- see Daw's post above.
Mar. 11th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)
Citing TERRIFIES me. I was SOOO glad that when I had to do some bits for a few different books recently, the publisher gave us really easy examples. I still had to ask what to do about an original interview, but HEY!

Mar. 11th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC)
Original interviews are no problem. I did about nineteen for Le Thesis, and Turabian tells you exactly how to cite them. The nice thing about original interviews is that, if you're the interviewer, you have all the information you need for a good citation.
(no subject) - saadiira - Mar. 13th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 17th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC)
Hmm... this complaint sounds very familiar. Though, might I impose upon you to tell me where I might find this Turabian thingum? I have The Bluebook and the Bedford Handbook for Writers, but not this, and it sounds like I might be able to use it, with what I have in mind for my graduate thesis.

However, that is not why I replied. At least... not directly/wholly. I wanted to say thank you for filling out my poll, and especially for making me grin when I read one of your answers. Thank you, I needed that after pages and pages of Very. Dry. Academia.
Mar. 17th, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
You'd probably find Turabian's book in finer reference sections anywhere. It's available from the University of Chicago Press:


I actually own the fifth edition, not the sixth, because I bought mine at a used bookstore in Grad School Town for cheap a couple of years ago. The sixth edition is much bigger and fancier, and probably takes electronic resources more into account.

Which poll answer did you like? Honestly, I don't even remember how I answered that any more, because my brain has been consumed with thoughts of wayang wahyu.
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 17th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Mar. 17th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 17th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Mar. 17th, 2007 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arwensommer - Mar. 17th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )