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3. 1. Metapages
Metapages are sites which present a collection of material using the whole Internet as their database. As for English literature, the pages should supply primary and secondary sources from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, sections dealing with different genres, author pages with bibliographical and biographical entries, links to text archives, general resources, journals, literary theory, reviews, and articles.
Every web site is judged by its visual appearance but according to Jakob Nielsen, the usefulness of documents is defined by their utility, i.e. whether a system can be used for a certain purpose, and their usability, in other words how easy the system can be used for that purpose.80 Consideration of these basic facts provides a number of qualitative criteria which can be divided into three categories. The order of these criteria is determined by the linear sequence of perception in opening a website, that is to say, the order of items which the user notices immediately after arriving at a destination, and the features which s/he recognises after some time of investigating and working with the system:
2. Technical aspects and spatial organisation
Literary Resources on the Net81
Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature Main Page89
BUBL Information Service107
Mitsuharu Matsuoka's Home Page123
The English Browser124
Annotated Webliography of Literary Resources128
A Literary Index129
A site's layout consists of the title including a headline, graphic symbols, colours, and other elements such as frames. Additionally, there can be advertisements or similar commercial information and Internet awards, for example 'best site of the year'. The last three items usually distract from a page's content if they are used excessively. Graphics should only be applied if necessary, for instance for navigational purposes.
Hypertext systems provide their users with navigational support such as links, which are anchored in text and graphic signs. Most pages supply internal indexing links which enable the user to move conveniently within the document, and external links which lead to other sources outside the system. All kinds of links have to be clearly labelled, e.g. back or home, and should follow a logical arrangement, for example an alphabetical or a chronological order. The users would still be able to choose their individual ways of reading the document or particular sections, even more so in a well organised and laid out environment.
The term content applies to the actual contents as well as a site's quality.
The producer should be identifiable, s/he should give some information on a separate page concerning academic background, expertise and experience in the field of English literature, and the organisation for which s/he works. Just a name of a person or an institution is not sufficient. Additionally, one may obtain a list of editorial members, contributors, and other academic support. The purpose of a site may either be implicit, that is to say, the service is self-explanatory with regard to its title and contents, or explicit, in other words the administrator may describe the site, the procedures necessary for installing the system, or its intended aims. The webmaster should also offer an email address to introduce a communicative process with the users. This feature shows that s/he is interested in criticism, contributions, feedback, or support, and is willing to improve the quality of the service if necessary. Ideally, s/he replies to emails. Even though most of the sites are read-only hypertext systems, an email address is an interactive feature which allows the users to participate to a certain extent, and indicates the innovative character of websites which should not only reproduce printed sources but make use of the potential of the new medium.
The site's material should be accurate and comprehensive, i.e. the most informative kinds of sources ought to be provided. A search option is helpful because the amount of data may vary in scope because some subjects may be more extensively covered than others, depending on the webmaster's field of interest. The administrator should regularly update the site because owing to the rapid growth of the Web, the increasing number of sites, and changing URLs, systems that are not frequently revised will soon contain old and outdated information. An update interval of six or even more months is too long. The provider has to make sure that the revision does not only include the change of dates but proper, conceivable alterations to the site. Every update should therefore provide new material or new addresses.
The most recent URLs have to be included, in other words the links should be reliable in order to present academically suitable sources. The producer might also add annotations which help the user to distinguish between those links that are worth following and those that are not. These notes should be written in an academic, objective, and informative style. The site ought to be functional, i.e. navigation should not confront the (inexperienced) user with unexpected problems.
Owing to the overload of information on the Internet, one may find it difficult to start one's research at the right point and to find the most informative metapages. Consulting a search engine creates the impression that during the last few years the number of websites concerning English literature must have increased enormously, because a rather disorganised list of hits is returned. After checking some of the numerous results, one may soon notice that 1995 and 1996 were very productive years in which many new pages were created. Many of them have turned stale or disappeared in the meantime. Services of high standard are still regularly updated whereas those of minor quality never seem to be revised.
The site is maintained by Jack Lynch, Assistant Professor in the English department at Rutgers University, and provides a good starting point for further research: The layout is clear and does not use many graphic elements, different colours, or frames. The writing is black on a brown background and links are highlighted in blue, a combination that makes the site easy to read. There are no advertisements or other commercial information so that the user's attention is not distracted from the content. Navigation on the site is accomplished by internal indexing links which are at the top and at the bottom of each sub-page. Each page contains a table of contents which allows quick access to the different sections. The site and its links are well organised, general resources are listed according to their importance, literary periods are in chronological, and authors in alphabetical order. In spite of this structure, the users can follow their own ways of moving on the pages.
Jack Lynch provides the user with some data about his academic career and expertise in the field of English literature on a separate page, which can be reached by clicking on the link at the end of the page. Owing to this kind of information and a brief introduction to the site at the bottom of the home page, high-quality material is to be expected. Lynch also introduces a communicative process with the users by asking them to send comments and corrections. He replies to emails and is interested in feedback. The system offers a comprehensive collection of material from Classical & Biblical to General Sources.82 Eighteenth Century and Miscellaneous are the most advanced sections. The latter contains links to general guides to literary Web resources, electronic text collections, comparative literature, library resources, reference works, censorship. These links cover two thirds of the page. The remainig third is devoted to other miscellany.83 The eighteenth-century literature page is Jack Lynch's special area of interest and therefore the best developed of the sub-pages. It consists of links to general pages (ten percent), authors (60 percent), and discussions concerning the theatre, the literary Gothic, Romanticism, Women Writers, French and German literature, research sites, and miscellany (30 percent). The other sub-pages contain smaller collections of links and are divided into links to general sources (40-50 percent) and links to the most important authors of the period (50-60 percent). Jack Lynch collects only the most important pieces of information. This policy ensures quick access to all pages, which are revised every three or four months. Additionally, a rudimentary search option helps to look for material.84
The outgoing links contain recent URLs and most of them work, even though there are some exceptions to the rule, such as Literature Related Links (server down) on the miscellaneous page, and The Blake Archive (down) on the Romantics page. These problems might however be due to local servers. Many links are followed by a short summary of the resource. These annotations are written in an objective and paradigmatic style, for example: "A large annotated bibliography on censorship" (Freedom of Press),85 "A good collection of major E-text resources" (PS Electronic Text Center),86 "The Voice of the Shuttle (...) is by far the best place to start." (Voice of the Shuttle),87 or "A brief but intelligent biography, with selections from her works and a bibliography of primary texts." (Anna Letitia Aikin Barbauld).88
The site is designed functionally, even though the use of graphic elements for navigational purposes would make orientation easier. The links back to the home page could be highlighted a bit stronger because they are bound to be overlooked. Considering quality, style and tone, the site meets academic needs and is designed for scholars and students of English literature.
According to Lynch, this service is the most comprehensive site dealing with English literature. The pages are part of the Voice of the Shuttle (VoS), a network of resources in the humanities maintained by Alan Liu, Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
The title Voice of the Shuttle derives from Greek mythology. According to Tereus, a lost drama by Sophocles,90 Philomela is raped by Tereus, who cuts out her tongue to make sure that she will remain silent. Then he imprisons her, visits her sister and tells her that she died on a journey. Philomela starts to weave a tapestry on which she tells her story, and so her sister finds out the truth.91
The shuttle is part of the loom which Philomela uses for weaving the tapestry. Hence the name Voice of the Shuttle: the shuttle tells her story since she cannot speak any more. Geoffrey H. Hartman declares: "If metaphors as well as plots or myths could be archetypal, I would nominate Sophocles' voice of the shuttle for that distinction."92 Patricia Klindienst adds that
it is not only her suffering but a specific motive that gives rise to her new use of the loom: to speak to and be heard by her sister. As an instrument that binds and connects, the loom, or its part, the shuttle, re-members or mends what violence tears apart: the bond between the sisters, the woman's power to speak, a form of community and communication. War and weaving are antithetical not because when women are weaving we are in our right place, but because all of the truly generative activities of human life are born of order and give rise to order. But just as Philomela can weave any number of patterns on her loom, culture need not retain one fixed structure.93
This passage is easily applicable to hypertext in general and to Voice of the Shuttle in particular as far as structure and policy are concerned. With the help of hypertext, Voice of the Shuttle becomes the instrument that binds and connects, in other words the instrument that tries to provide as much information as possible in an organised way. At the same time there is no need for a fixed structure. One is not bound to a given order but can find one's own way of navigation, which is the main difference between a printed source and an electronic hypertext system. Voice of the Shuttle is a kind of tapestry similar to Philomela's, except that the former is made of links instead of threads.
The layout of all Voice of the Shuttle pages is clear, simple, and not overloaded with graphics. The writing is black on a light brown background, links are highlighted in blue and the pages are easy to read because of this colour combination. There is no advertisement or any other information about sponsorship.
To reach any of the sub-pages, one can either follow the links or click on one of the arrows that are at the top and at the bottom of the pages to move backwards and forwards. Some of the pages are very large. For that reason there are four internal links at the bottom of each section: Top of This Page, Main English Page which leads to the English literature home page, Quick Menu which shows the contents of the main English page, and VoS Home Page. The navigation in Voice of the Shuttle and its sub-pages is easy and user-friendly.
The main body of the link structure contains external links leading to resources or texts outside Voice of the Shuttle. These links are in alphabetical order which makes browsing easier because one does not have to look for a particular author or subject which may be hidden somewhere in the system. The local links on the main English page are partly in chronological and partly in hierarchical order, also for navigation purposes. The arrangement as a whole is logical.
The provider of the site is clearly identifiable. One finds a short piece of information about him at the bottom of each page, but there is an additional link to his curriculum vitae. On top of the Voice of the Shuttle home page, there is a link to Alan Liu's contributors. Many of them are experienced scholars of English literature. The author has a mutual communicative process in mind because by linking to his email address, he expects feedback from the users. Contributions, criticism, or general remarks about Voice of the Shuttle are welcome, and he takes pains to reply to each email individually. This is a very positive aspect because Liu is really interested in what people think about his service, instead of merely confronting the user with a static site which leads to a dead end. This shows the dynamic and interactive character of Voice of the Shuttle.
Alan Liu decided to include sites that fulfil the following criteria:
This means that plain-old ASCII text-files of literary or other works are not included in this list.94
The next eight categories deal with the different periods of English and American literature. The pages are all laid out in the same way: a small part (25-35 percent) is devoted to general resources, a large one (50-60 percent) to authors of the period, and the rest (5-15 percent) to information concerning universities, courses, journals, listservs, and conferences.
On the biggest sub-page, Romantics, there is a section on selected topics "that have had a pivotal role in shaping the field of Romantic studies since circa 1970."95 Amongst those are special topics such as The State of the Profession: Romantic Studies in Peril?, The French Revolution, The Gothic, Romanticism and Information Technology, Slavery and Abolition (including the American milieu), The Sublime, and Women and Romanticism. No such section can be found on the other sub-pages.
The regular update belongs to the progressive features of this web site. Most of the sub-pages of the English Literature Main Page were revised recently. The revision process does not only include a substitution of dates: additions and changes are made continuously.
The search option of Voice of the Shuttle allows the user to do internal as well as external searches. One can enter any keyword, either case sensitive or not, author's name, name of a period, or field of interest, and Voice of the Shuttle will return results. This is easier than browsing the site.
One can also find information about the numbers of accesses, either per day, week, or month on the Access Statistics page. Interestingly enough, only 0.2 percent of the visits originated from the University of California, Santa Barbara.96
Most links are followed by a short description, especially those which lead to quality sites. These commentaries are written in an academic and objective style, for example on the General English Literature Resources page,97 and on any of the English pages. One can observe descriptions such as "very large, well-organized site covering both the historical canon and modern / contemporary authors"98 for the Bohemian Ink: On-line Review of the History and Future of Experimental Literature and Poetry site, "Anniina Jokinen's beautiful, redesigned literature site featuring extensive resources in medieval, renaissance, and 17th-century British literature"99 for Luminarium and "links, listings of Shakespeare organizations and conferences, some essays on teaching S., shorter articles, news and reviews, discussion"100 for ArdenNet: The Critical Resource for Shakespeare Studies. The absence of colloquialisms is a very positive aspect which emphasises the academic character of the Voice of the Shuttle pages.
The English literature site meets the user's expectations. On the English Literature Main Page there is a short statement of the purpose of the page.101 This explanation provides information about the contents and the expected audience of the service which is mainly for academic users. The contents are of high quality, the layout is clear, the navigation is easy, and the whole system possesses an outstanding functionality. The pages offer links to articles, reviews, resources, literary theory, and works of authors of almost every genre and period. Owing to the current copyright situation which allows to publish online only works that were written before 1923,102 sites of authors who wrote later contain biographical and bibliographical data, and short excerpts of works. Full-text electronic versions are only available if the provider of a text-archive offers access to an internal database. The access can be free of charge, as is the case with Bohemian Ink: On-line Review of the History and Future of Experimental Literature and Poetry103 which presents a few texts by modern and contemporary writers. Normally, however, the access is restricted as is the case with Literature Online because big publishing companies want to sell their products and make the user pay for their copyrights.
Voice of the Shuttle does not replicate a printed source but serves as a new kind of research tool. At a first superficial glance, the site may resemble a book because there are certain structural similarities such as a table of contents, for example, but the strengths of the pages lie in their connection to many others on the web, and in the ability to navigate in this system - a book cannot offer such possibilities. The comprehensive quality of the site is also a disadvantage. Most links of the Voice of the Shuttle pages are accurate and working but one can also find a few exceptions. Some contain outdated URLs, for example the links to Alex (an E-text site) and to On-Line Literary Resources (Lynch's site).104 Others return only an error message ("File Not Found"), for example Adora Literary Research Award Page, Alcuin: Electronic Texts Search, CARL UnCover, Cyberpoet's Guide to Virtual Culture, Marist College English Web (three links to sites which do not seem to exist any longer), and The Ultimate Poetry Links.
The comparatively low speed of Voice of the Shuttle is a further drawback. All sub-pages take a long time to download completely. Sometimes the pages start to download but stop somewhere in the middle of the process. One has to try and reload the page several times which is very inconvenient, especially if one uses the service for proper research. According to Alan Liu, this problem is due to the distance between anchor and destination node.105 Two years ago there were mirror sites situated in England and in Italy which unfortunately were closed down.106 In case of the above mentioned problems it might pay to rely on a printed source, but the conventional way of research can also be very time-consuming.
A first step towards a solution would be to remove all the links that do not work. On the other hand, new links will have to be added continuously. The low speed is also a result of the limited capacities of the new technology. Means and ways of data transfer are exhausted and need to be improved. Nevertheless, Voice of the Shuttle fulfills almost all of the criteria and is - despite a few disadvantages - an exemplary site.
The most comprehensive English literature site in Europe is accessible from a server which is situated at Strathclyde University, Glasgow. Voice of the Shuttle lists the service on the General Humanities Resources page,108 but does not include BUBL's English literature pages in the appropriate section. The pages are maintained by a group of people - librarians and scholars - who work at different universities in Great Britain. Alan Dawson is the manager of the system.
The layout of the home page is clear and icons are applied to support navigation. These icons are associated with the corresponding links to facilitate orientation. Despite these graphic elements, no further colours, frames, or advertisements are distracting from the page's contents. The writing is blue on a white background, the links are green, which is a pleasant combination.
The home page serves as a table of contents and via internal links one can move to the different sub-pages, where external links take the user to different sources on the World Wide Web. Each page has a well organised structure of links which lead either back to the top or to the other pages of the system. A set of links is to be found at the top of all sub-pages. One can use this set to move to the home page, the search option, Subject menus, A-Z, Dewey, Countries, Types, Updates, Random, and About.109 The external links on the pages are in alphabetical order. Occasionally, there is a link on top of this list which normally would not belong there, but has been inserted because of its importance instead of sticking to the alphabetical order. The links are arranged in two columns: The left one contains the list of links and the right one offers detailed summaries of the resources' contents.
On the home page, BUBL Admin provides a list of several subsections containing data of the service.110 Contact Details offers an address list of people constituting BUBL's editorial board. Articles About BUBL and Annual Report supply helpful information concerning the history of the service and access statistics, for example. One finds out that the name BUBL was the abbreviation for BUlletin Board for Libraries but is nowadays used as a kind of trademark. The system was originally Gopher-based before it was introduced to a hypertext environment in 1997.111
The number of accesses grew from 2.6 million in 1996/1997 to over 6 million in 1997/1998, which means an increase of 120 percent. A detailed list of accesses, e.g. by country and by institution, can be obtained from the Annual Report page,112 which also provides technical data about the server, information concerning the funding of the service by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and future developments, for example. This kind of background knowledge of the service is helpful for the user who does not want to consult any kind of metapage, but who tries to do deep structure research with an advanced device offering high quality material and with which s/he can easily become familiar. The introduction of the new BUBL LINK / 5:15 interface on February 22, 1999 brought some additions and changes. The site now holds about 10,000 items. The comparatively small database ensures access to the most important resources.113 Alan Dawson and Jan Simpson believe that it "is more useful and efficient to use a few good starting points and learn routes to information than to bookmark a large number of individual locations".114
The BUBL material can be accessed either by the so-called Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), "a numerical classification scheme, a means of breaking down fields of knowledge by using numbers."115 DDC "was conceived by Melvil Dewey in 1873 and first published in 1876",116 and has become a world-wide standard library classification system. Literature and rhetoric, for example, bear the number 800, and English, Scottish and Irish literature the number 820,117. This kind of organisation delivers about 20 quality resources for each section.
Generally, these pages contain links to other metapages, text archives, and journals. The pages dealing with the different periods of American, British, and Irish literature offer links to author pages, extra pages are devoted to Jane Austen, the Brontës, and Charles Dickens. All links on these pages are checked automatically every month and manually every year.118 This policy ensures a high reliability of the links.
The BUBL LINK / 5:15 interface resembles a search engine, such as AltaVista or Yahoo!, since one can follow categories. Language, Literature and Culture provides a list in alphabetical order containing entries from African American to Writing Skills.119 Material concerning American and English literature can be found in American literature - general, American literature to 1900, American literature from 1900, contemporary fiction, English literature - general, English literature collections, English literature to 1800, English literature 1801 - 1870, English literature from 1871, English poetry, English drama, and literary studies.120
All links on these pages are provided with annotations in a neutral and objective style. The update information shows that, in contrast to the DDC based research, the links are not checked every month but frequently every three or four months to ensure that most of the links work. BUBL also provides a very advanced search engine which allows to search the local database and the World Wide Web. Additionally, the user can search BUBL link, the journal section, the archive, or search by subject, by country, and for people or organisations. BUBL also offers general search services.121 These options guarantee a quick working process and increase the high speed of access to BUBL material.
The whole service is designed mainly for librarians but certain subsections, especially BUBL LINK / 5:15, are acceptable for scholars and students. One can judge from the site's quality and style that BUBL is indeed "[a] national information service for the higher education community."122
The service provides a comprehensive collection of material concerning English literature. The site is situated in Japan and maintained by Mitsuharu Matsuoka, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Language and Culture at the University of Nagoya. The home page is well laid out but could not be reproduced adequately in print. The use of graphics and colours on the page does not distract from its contents but serves navigational purposes. Different colours are devoted to different authors, for example. External and internal indexing links are anchored in words, phrases, and graphic symbols. Every sub-page includes links back to the home page. The webmaster also provides an email address to which one can send comments, contributions and queries. The page dealing with English literature supplies links to general sources (40 percent), text archives (5 percent), Medieval & Anglo-Saxon (10 percent), 17th Century & Renaissance (10 percent), 18th Century & Restoration (15 percent), 19th Century including Romantics and Victorian (15 percent), and 20th Century literature (5 percent). The site offers comprehensive lists concerning American, British, and Irish authors. An extra page is devoted to nineteenth century writers. Each page is frequently updated and offers the most important authors of the periods. An average of 70 percent of entries link to author pages on the Web. The provider adds the most current sites on top of the pages. The arrangement of entries is unusual because authors are not listed alphabetically but in chronological order according to their dates of birth. One has to get used to this kind of structure because more browsing than in an alphabetical list is required. Matsuoka does not summarise the content of any resource so that the users have to find the most informative material by themselves. However, he highlighted some of the more important pages in bold. The site offers the most recent links which all work because they are continuously revised. In spite of some minor disadvantages, such as the unusual order on the author pages and the lack of annotations, the service is comprehensive, reliable and meets the requirements of scholars and students.
So far, only high-quality services have been investigated but there is also a number of sites which are less acceptable for academic purposes. Most of them are listed in the services mentioned above. Some were discovered accidentally, for example by browsing through the results the search engines had to offer. Since there are so many sites of lower quality on the Internet, a choice can only be selective.
The page is maintained by academic staff of the University of Osaka, Japan. It is well laid out with logically arranged items and links, and frequently updated, but dedicates only about 20 percent of its material to literature. The system offers some good starting points, for example A Survey of English Resources125 which includes the most important metapages but contains some outdated URLs, Online Dissertation Search, Calls for Papers, or English Departments Worldwide, which can be informative especially for students. The rest of the page consists of items dealing with newspapers, magazines (only very few literary ones), and other general sources concerning the media. The developers did not take the opportunity of providing a detailed list of literary or scholarly journals. The user does not get an impression of the origin and academic background of the staff, either. The site is, judging by its content, intended for the general public rather than the literary scholar or student.
The site is maintained by Kenji and S. Kathleen Kitao at the University of Lancaster, Great Britain, and offers a comprehensive collection dealing with archives, literature resources, fiction, drama, poetry, children's literature, the Bible, journals, mailing lists, authors, great authors, and reading for students. Fifty percent of the page is covered by links to 'great' authors such as Jane Austen, the Brontës, or William Shakespeare. The site is well laid out even though the bright blue background makes the page hard to read after some time of research. The providers did not apply any graphics but anchored the links in text which is suitable enough for navigation. Internal indexing links and a link back to the top of the page are missing, however. One can also obtain some information concerning the webmasters on a separate page.127 The page lacks a proper date of revision ("Last updated on July 22"), annotations, and the most recent URLs. One can still find the link to the European mirror site of Voice of the Shuttle or the old address of Jack Lynch's site, for instance.
The service was created by faculty students of the English Department at Georgia Southern University, USA. The site is well laid out without any graphics or advertisements. It contains sources dealing with archives (50 percent), single authors and hypertext projects (30 percent), journals and conferences (10 percent), calls for papers (extra page), and important essays and HTML related sites, and "toys 'r us stuff" (10 percent). The most common metapages are included in the 'archives' section so that the site is a good starting point for further research. The service lacks information concerning its providers, update, and elements which support navigation. There is no indexing link to get back to the top of the page, for example. Most links work but some contain outdated addresses or lead to faulty sites, e.g. Literary Resources on the Net (old URL), or Web Resources for Literature (error in the HTML code, starts loading but gets stalled). All links are provided with a short summary of the contents of the resources. These annotations are sometimes not written in an academic style and contain colloquialism such as "this site comes in handy (...) you might want to brush up your Latin" (WWW Medieval Resources). Judging from this tone, the intended audience of the site would be students rather than scholars. Another disadvantage is the site's lack of interactive potential. A link invites the users to make contributions (How to Contribute to the Annotated Webliography) and one would expect to be taken to a form where one could enter submissions. This link, however, leads to the end of the page where the webmasters provide a short explanation but offer no address where to send one's comments. One has to return to the beginning of the page to find two email addresses to which one can eventually send messages.
Chris Flack's page is also provided with a good layout. The material is displayed in two columns. The service supplies links to the most common interfaces, e.g. Alex, Voice of the Shuttle, or Literary Resources on the Net, but does not seem to be maintained any longer since there is no information about revision of the document. Flack offers an email address but does not reply to messages. Most links work but some are outdated (Alex and Literary Resources on the Net). The statement "A Literary Index provides both an overview and a review of the more significant collections of Internet literary resources of interest to scholars, students, and lovers of literature"130 promises a lot but the content no longer meets these expectations. Since the page contains some of the most important and reliable sources it is, however, acceptable as a starting point for further research.
Many services have been created in 1996 or 1997 and are updated at irregular intervals, for example The English Studies131 at the University of Leipzig, or have not been revised since then, such as The English Home Page132 at the University of Wuppertal, and Surf the WWW from Tübingen133 at the University of Tübingen. These pages offer collections of links to literature resources on the Web but many of the links do not work, for example Leipzig's Authors Links and Info, Hyper Text, or Project Aldus, or return old URLs, e.g. On-Line Literary Resources. The page in Wuppertal contains the old gopher URL of the Alex catalogue and Thomas Rommel in Tübingen still lists the old address of Jack Lynch's site. One cannot find any data concerning the providers of these sites, except on the Tübingen page where a link back to the English department provides information about Thomas Rommel. The main problem at German universities is that most sites are maintained by students who work on such projects temporarily rather than on a regular basis. These people may have started to create pages but have graduated and left the task unfinished without being replaced owing to the current funding situation.
Books in Chains134 by Scott Rettberg, a former doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati, offers a comprehensive collection of material dealing with American and English literature. The site is divided into three main parts: resources, authors, and zines. The resource page provides a list of metapages/indexes, electronic texts, specific canons/disciplines, libraries and institutions, booksellers, publishing & book, drama and film, academe/journals, and reference tools/word miscellany. The page is well laid out and described but lacks currency (last update August 28, 1997). The Author Page135 was revised on August 18, 1997 and covers mainly twentieth-century writers.136 Many links do not work, e.g. the ones to Martin Amis, Margret Atwood, Roland Barthes, and Roald Dahl, or include old URLs, for example the links to Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot. The annotations often contain colloquialisms, such as "WORD magazine, a very cool, very eclectic e-zine",137 "Enterzone -- a hip and strange hypertext/lit mag",138 or "Firehorse, a pretty cool Australian zine".139 Judging from the site's style, Rettberg tries to attract a student audience rather than scholars, and much of the material is not suitable for academic requirements.
American Literature Sites140 lacks maintainer and update information and devotes only 20 percent of the contents to literature so that the name is not justified.
Jeff's English Page141 is not up to date (1996) and is not maintained at a university, which can be recognised from the extension '.org' (other organisations) in the URL. The page is introduced with a quotation from Bruce Lee and the style is not very academic. Consider sections such as Jazz & Blues, Folks that deserve a big blurb, and Bill Shakespeare. The material is not very comprehensive and many links do not work, for example Internet Guide to books and reviews, Literature Department, Database of Published Writers on the Internet, and Shakespeare Web, or contain outdated URLs, e.g. Literary Research Tools on the Net, and Eighteenth Century Resources on the Net Page.
English literature metapages are not only maintained by academic institutions but also by commercial providers. These sites show the extension '.com' in their URL and usually contain many advertisements or other sponsorship information, i.e. elements which distract from the page's content. Literature Resources for the High School and College Student142 is an exception. The site is maintained by Michael Lee Groves, teacher of English at the Wilsonville High School, USA. The home page offers a clear layout without any commercial data. The document consists mainly of external links and includes internal ones which are clearly labelled as leading back to the home page. The material is divided into six categories:
Literature contains links to authors of the different periods of literature, Indices supplies a list of the most important metapages, Books (Online) offers a selection of electronic text archives, Writer's Resources, Magazines, and !?! lead to miscalleneous sources and non-academic material. The developer provides personal data, purpose and aim of the site on separate pages. The literature section links to pages dealing with authors in alphabetical order. Non-English speaking writers are also included. Seventy percent of the material on these pages is devoted to authors, the rest consists of links to general resources of the period. The page is frequently updated and contains the most recent links. The navigation on the site is very easy and, as the title implies, the pages are designed for pupils and students but represent a good starting point for the academic researcher. The most important sources are included, a policy which guarantees quick access to the pages and leads to the whole network of English literature sites.
Other commercial services such as Study Web, Britannia: Literature, and English Literature from the Mining Company, place too much emphasis on advertisements and other sponsorship information which distract from the content of these sites.143 Study Web,144 for example, does not provide information concerning staff and revision. The General145 section of the British literature page contains five entries. The first one (British Literature on-line texts146) leads to a stale page. Quality sites such as Voice of the Shutte are not included. On the sub-pages dealing with the different periods of English literature, one can find a few links which are provided with annotations.147 Ratings which emphasise the resource's visual content rather than the quality of the material, are also included.148
Britannia: Literature149 has less commercial information and offers a more acceptable selection of annotated links to English literature resources including the most important sites. Some of the links do not work or contain outdated URLs, such as Major Works of Literature Online, The WWW Virtual Library, The British Library Online-Portico, or The Collected Works of Shakespeare. The page lacks information concerning revision and staff, and offers hardly any navigational support, e.g. no internal link back to the top. As a starting point for further research, the page is more appropriate than Study Web owing to the better collection.
English Literature150 maintained by the Mining Company provides a lot of material including 21st-Century Literature. The site is frequently updated but the user is not supplied with data concerning the so-called guides who are responsible for the material. The commercial elements distract from the site's content but are not as numerous as on the Study Web pages. These commercial sites differ from the ones provided by academics in style, which is more subjective, and in content, which is less comprehensive and more general.
2. Technical aspects and spatial organisation
Literary Resources on the Net81
Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature Main Page89
BUBL Information Service107
Mitsuharu Matsuoka's Home Page123
The English Browser124
Annotated Webliography of Literary Resources128
A Literary Index129
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80 Nielsen, cf. p. 281.
81 Jack Lynch, Literary Resources on the Net.
82 Cf. Literary Resources home page.
83 Lynch, Literary Resources -- Miscellaneous.
84 Ibid., "I hope to work out a more impressive search engine one of these days, but this will do the trick for now." Literary Resources -- Search.
85 Ibid., Miscellaneous.
87 Ibid., Literary Resources -- 18th Century.
89 Alan Liu, Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature Main Page.
90 Kaiser., cf. p. 143. Kaiser claims that Tereus raped Procne instead of Philomela.
91 Cf. Liu, Voice of the Shuttle: The Myth.
94 Ibid., Voice of the Shuttle: Editorial Policy.
95 Ibid., Voice of the Shuttle English Literature: Romantics.
96 Ibid., cf. Access Statistics for Voice of the Shuttle. Monthly Summary.
97 Ibid., Voice of the Shuttle English Literature: General Resources.
100 Ibid., Voice of the Shuttle English Literature: Renaissance & 17th Century.
101 Ibid., Voice of the Shuttle: English Main Page.
102 Michael S. Hart, "The current copyright situation in the US requires 75 years, plus 1. . .for 76. . .so 1923 is copyrighted 22 is not. . .23 should become PD [public domain] on 1/1/99, unless they pass yet another copyright extension". Email dated September 25, 1998.
103 Cf. Liu, Voice of the Shuttle English Literature: General Resources.
105 Ibid., "The speed with which you can get VoS pages is a function primarily of the speed of the many connections between my location and yours". Email dated December 15, 1998.
106 Ibid., "I'm at the mercy of volunteers in Europe who want to keep a VoS mirror site. The mirror I used to have in England disappeared when the site administrator (at Oxford) left for another job. The mirror in Italy disappeared when the company who kept it was taken over by another company." Email dated December 10, 1998.
107 Alan Dawson (ed.), BUBL Information Service.
108 Liu, Voice of the Shuttle: General Humanities Resources.
109 See Dawson, BUBL LINK / 5:15: Language, Literature and Culture.
110 Ibid., BUBL Admin.
111 Cf. Alan Dawson and Jan Simpson, " How BUBL benefits academic librarians." In: Ariadne 10, (1997).
112 Dawson, BUBL Information Service. Annual Report 1997 - 1998.
113 Ibid., cf. About BUBL LINK / 5:15, and see this page for further details on aims and purpose of the new interface.
114 Dawson and Simpson.
115 A Selection of Ready Reference Web sites.
116 About the DDC.
117 Dawson, BUBL Link 800 Literature and rhetoric.
118 Ibid., BUBL Information Service Annual Report 1997 - 1998. 14. Future Plans.
119 Ibid., cf. BUBL LINK / 5:15 Language, Literature and Culture.
120 Cf. ibid.
121 Ibid., cf. BUBL Search.
122 Ibid., BUBL Information Service home page.
123 Mitsuharu Matsuoka's Home Page.
124 The English Browser.
125 Scott Rettberg, A Survey of English Resources.
126 Kenji and S. Kathleen Kitao, Literature.
127 Ibid., "Literature" on WWW.
128 Annotated Webliography of Literary Resources.
129 Chris Flack, A Literary Index.
131 English Studies Leipzig.
132 The English Home Page.
133 Thomas Rommel, Surf the WWW from Tübingen.
134 Scott Rettberg, Books in Chains.
135 Ibid., Authors.
136 Ibid.: "I've focused this section mainly though not exclusively on Twentieth Century fiction writers."
137 Ibid., Zines.
140 American Literature Sites.
141 Jeff Frost, Jeff's English Page.
142 Michael Lee Groves, Literature Resources for the High School and College Student.
143 Cf. these sites. See links below.
144 Study Web.
145 Study Web. British Litertaure. General.
146 British Literature on-line texts.
147 Cf. Study Web. 17th, 18th, 19th Centuries.
148 Cf. About Study Web. Study Web Ratings Information.
149 Britannia: Literature.
150 English Literature.
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