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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is Turabian's manual for writers, with its chapter full of examples of how to cite everything from a regular book to an unpublished interview or even a painting.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?

Comments

dawtheminstrel
Mar. 8th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
My editorial assistant does all the copyediting for the journal I edit. I just asked her how often it happens that the bibliography of a paper we've accepted in 100% correct. Answer: Never. How many changes does she typically make? Mutiple per page. And these are the papers we accept.
frenchpony
Mar. 8th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
Are you going to keep on being journal editor after you retire, or will you pass that on to some other sucker poor soul?
dawtheminstrel
Mar. 8th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
I'm already bringing someone else up to speed to do it. The journal belongs to ISU and the editor has to be an ISU faculty member.

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