Sunday, January 31, 2010

Educational Technology Tool: the IPL and its Literary Criticism Collection

As a M.Ed. student focused in Secondary English, I’m constantly exploring online resources for literary analysis and critique. While SparkNotes has become my go-to source for literary summaries and analytical overviews, I have wanted to find an online resource that provides higher-level literary analysis from various sources.

In tackling this week’s homework assignment, I came across the Internet Public Library (IPL). The IPL began in 1995 as a research project designed by students in a graduate seminar in the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan. Today it is an extensive online library managed by Drexel University, Florida State University (FSU) and the University of Michigan, and is maintained by a consortium of 7 additional universities that serve as managing partners (including Syracuse and the University of Illinois) and 9 additional participating universities. At the start of 2010 the IPL2 website was launched, the result of the merger of the Internet Public Library (IPL) with the Librarians' Internet Index (LII).

The IPL is exactly what its unabbreviated name suggests: an open access online reference library. Its content is extensive. On the homepage, the site is divided into five segments:

1. Resources by Subject
2. Newspapers & Magazines
3. Special Collections created by ipl2
4. For Kids
5. For Teens

While teachers, parents and students alike could utilize this site as a multi-faceted reference tool, my personal search for an extensive literary analysis/criticism database led me to the site’s Literary Criticism Collection. In this portion of the site, the user can browse by author, title, nationality or literary period. Once the user has selected a literary work or author, he/she is directed to a series of weblinks to other websites dedicated to the subject or to online critical essays on the subject.

For example, a student might be assigned to write an essay on 20th century American Literature. Via the IPL Literary Criticism database, that student would be directed to a series of essays on American Lit. Perhaps he/she would choose to explore the link to an essay on the Harlem Renaissance Movement. After reading about the Harlem Renaissance writers, the student might decide to explore the link to author Langston Hughes. After clicking on the link for Langston Hughes, the student would be directed to a site which hosts an extensive autobiography and guide to the author’s work. Via the IPL, the student could also link to critical essays analyzing the various works of Langston Hughes. Exposure to such essays would provide insight to the deeper thoughts of experts and academics, and serve as a model for the student’s own critical thought.

For the secondary English student or secondary English teacher, the IPL Literary Criticism library, while not a complete collection, provides a wide array of information - fact (historical and biographical info), literary analysis, and literary critique – on hundreds of literary subjects. I look forward to exploring it further.

1 comment:

  1. If anyone knows any students or teachers who use, recommend or don't recommend this site, please comment; I'd be curious to learn.