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MENA 354/448: Middle East and North Africa Seminar (Dr. Courtney Dorroll) *: Writing Annotations

Purpose of the Annotated Bibliography

Your annotated bibliography will gather 10-15 highly relevant sources that will serve as a guide for a future research project, such as an honor's thesis or capstone paper. Doing an annotated bibliography allows you to do some of the legwork of your research project BEFORE you begin writing, which gives you time to contemplate your sources and build a strong thesis that is based in the current research literature. 

For your annotations, we will ask you to SUMMARIZE, ANALYZE, and REFLECT on each source, using the guidelines in the box below.

Information for Annotations

Each of your annotations should be about one page long and contain:

  • Full MLA citation for the item.
  • Author’s credentials: Who is the author? Where did he or she study, and what degrees does he or she hold? What position does the author hold? How do these credentials allow the author to speak authoritatively about the subject?
  • The author’s thesis: What is the author's main argument? 
  • Analysis of the article or book: What are the main points of the article or book? What evidence does the author use to support his or her thesis? Are there other arguments being made outside the main thesis?
  • Theoretical base/school of thought/place in the scholarly conversation: Research does not exist in a vacuum. Scholars communicate with and respond to each other and to scholars that came before them. Can you identify where this article or book falls in the scholarly conversation? Here are some questions to consider:
    • Does the author employ a certain research method (like historiography, critical discourse analysis, or ethnographic research) or employ critical theory (feminism, Marxism, queer theory, cultural studies)?
    • How does this article or book relate to the scholarly conversation on your topic? (For example, does this work break new ground in the field, respond to previously-published material, or recap already-published materials?)
    • Is the author doing original research, like interviewing subjects, or is the work based on secondary research that has already been published?
    • How do the sources you've chosen relate to each other? Do they approach your research question from a common understanding of the material, argue for different interpretations, or propose different solutions? Are you sources talking to each other? (Check publication dates and works cited for evidence.)
  • Reflection: How does this article or book relate to your research project? How would you incorporate this item into your eventual research paper?


Examples of MLA Annotated Bibliographies

Example annotation (note that the formatting is not correct due to limitations in our website software):

Foglesong, David.  America’s Secret War Against Bolshevism:  U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1917-1920.  University of North Carolina Press, 1995.  

Foglesong earned his PhD at UC-Berkeley and is an Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers, where he teaches courses on American political relations. This book is a revision of his dissertation.

Foglesong's thesis states that Wilson implemented a policy designed to promote the overthrow of the Bolshevik government. Foglesong argues that Wilson was given poor advice by the few in his government who had some background on Russia, who spoke of “returning Russia to democracy” (45). He proves this point by demonstrating that Wilson’s policies consistently differed from his more idealistic public statements using critical discourse theory. Wilson actively sought to bring the Bolsheviks down, and US troops were sent to Russia to lend support to anti-Bolshevik groups. His emphasis on Wilson's anti-Bolshevik motivation contrasts with other historians that felt Wilson wanted stay out of Russian affairs.  

Foglesong will be an important participant in my debate as his work provides an argument against many of my other sources, such as Reed. His argument was discussed later by other scholars, including Jones and Smith, who are included in this bibliography. This source will provide important evidence in my discussion of US-Russian relations and how they influence current US policy on Russia. Though I probably won't include it in my final paper, the discussion of anti-Bolshevik groups helped me understand the competing factions in Russia during Wilson's era.

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Emily Witsell

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