This is a page about the website, in general. For information on what domestic fiction is, and about the intent of the site's content, go here.

Site's Purpose & History


History: This site was created in the summer of 1998, during the gap between when my MA program ended & my PhD program started. I had recently learned HTML and wanted to play around with it over the summer; because of my love for literature, a logical choice seemed to be creating a literary "fan" type of site. I had admired websites like my own, about people like Amy Tan & Zora Neale Hurston, and wanted to do something similar. I was deciding what author to dedicate my site and work to when I was looking at a former professor's site and saw that there were no websites for some of the authors she works on (Sarah Orne Jewett was one that sticks out in memory as being missing). So I decided to create a site with biography & links to the authors that I had studied in a course with that professor (who now moderates and monitors this site). A number of the critical papers on the site were written during that course but not all. A quick look at the contributors page should make clear who was in the course at Southwest Texas and who was not (if they are listed as attending SWT, they were in the course). Most of these folks have moved on to other programs-- but not all have kept in touch with me about it, so I don't have recent listings for everyone. Most of the members of that course did receive their MA, and have moved on the PhD programs or are professional writers of another sort.

After I wrote the biographies of the authors (a few of them are now written by other writers, see bottom of each individual page; if there's no name listed, it's me) and found the links, I found that I wanted more than just a collection of links & biographies. I decided to solicit scholarly works from professional writers (mostly grad students) to discuss, critique, and explore these authors. I also thought a site like this would provide a teaching opportunity for visitors-- students could see examples of well-written essays and from example, see how to write their own, and they could use these essays as sources, just like the books that can be checked out in libraries. There are a lot of critical essays on the Internet nowadays-- but a lot of them are there in a vacuum-- you don't know who wrote them and why you should trust their work. I hoped to create a site that did all the right things as far as melding traditional scholarship of writers I love and study with education about those authors, and about how to write research papers.

Unless otherwise noted, the basic text on the site (the stuff on the 'black' pages) has been written by me. I've tried to note sources for my information, but some of it is just general knowledge that I've picked up over the years, the same kind of "teaching" that any professor does in class every day-- in other words, educated opinion.

The great thing about the Internet is that it is always a "work in progress." Any site that doesn't let you know this is not telling the whole truth and unless it is always being updated, it might as well not be on the Internet. The site gets updated when I get a new paper, or someone writes suggesting a new author, or when I notice a dead link or graphic problem. So while this site is not put out in "issues" and "volumes" like a traditional paper journal, it also does not need to be. The date that you print up your article is the date you should use in your works cited page, also, look at the "last update" date on the bottom of the page; this is information you should include in your MLA citation. For more information on how to cite electronic sources, I have a helpful "how to page."

My purpose: to increase knowledge about the authors featured on the site. To encourage people to read their books. To provide research, bibliographies, and very general biographies of the authors. To get you started-- and encourage you to go to the library for more information. To combat the growing elite nature of knowledge (Should you have to pay for it? Should it only be available on college campuses?) To provide a forum for discussion, and an opportunity for graduate students to be published.

Criticisms of this site


Ah, the critics have arrived! I remember a favorite author who talked about cri-TICKS, and pointed out that some (not all by any means) are really good at pointing out flaws (and sucking the life out of everyone) but don't do anything themselves. Some do not like the site's color (a matter of taste and opinion-- I like it and it's staying this way. For suggestions on improving the readability, look here.)

I apologize if you have trouble with the colors; I choose to avoid the more plain "commercial" white background with blue and red links. I know that this may make it difficult for some readers, some browsers, to read the text-- if this is your case, and you wish to have a more easily readable, printable article, please write to me and I'll send you a plain text version. (There, wasn't that easy?) Some of the e-texts that I attempt to link to are frequently moved (I think this is the source's way of trying to avoid plagiarism, although I'm not sure how effective breaking a mere link is in this.) If a link is broken, please feel free to let me know. I try to keep up with it, but there just aren't enough hours in the day sometimes, and your input would be appreciated.

I have seen a couple reviews of this site, and each time I see one, I try to go through and fix any problems that the reviewer notes, to make the site better and more navigable, have more information, fix any broken links. If you publish a review (even if it's not altogether positive) please do me the courtesy of telling me where it is, so that I can see your critiques. And consider the point of a review-- if you are criticizing, why don't you give clear examples of the problems, and not make sweeping, vaguely insulting threats and implications? (One reviewer suggested, ever so subtly, that maybe I wanted people to cheat; which to me, seems obviously wrong-- and it didn't look like this person even bothered to look at the whole site, since some of the criticisms were answered on the site somewhere).

Most of the feedback on the site has been positive, but occasionally, someone says that I don't do enough to keep students from cheating, and that the papers indexed here are too great a temptation. I would like to answer this criticism by saying that it is just as possible for a student to plagiarize a book from a library. JUST DON'T DO IT!! And, if you're a teacher, don't tolerate it, and teach your students NOT to do it! If you want my support in flunking someone who has cheated using this site, please do not hesitate to contact me. Cheating is cheating-- and I do NOT sanction this. The electronic format, I'll admit, does make it easier for someone who is already intent on being dishonest to commit the act. I have had to flunk a couple of my own students for their plagiarism of other websites, and I have heard from a few teachers who have found their students plagiarizing this one.

But, to answer this, I think it is our duty as teachers not to ignore the possibilities of making research easily available on the Internet. If educators do not provide the information, who will? Do students have to pay for it, as a lot of encyclopedia companies are requiring now? This makes information only commercial, and even if they buy a subscription, sometimes the information they get is incomplete, and encyclopedic, rather than critical. These sites are great-- but I want to teach for free. It is our duty as teachers to stress, over and over again, how bad it is to cheat. I try to do this on my site-- I have numerous warnings about it and have tried javascripts that make it even harder. I will never stop those who are determined-- but the nice thing is that this site is easily accessible to their teachers, too, who can easily find the source of any cheats, and have good evidence to flunk those who try it. This makes it far easier to catch a suspected cheater than going to the library, searching through the stacks.

 

Finally, about me


I don't really like putting tons about myself; I mean, how much do you really know about the editor of any journal? You accept that they are respected because someone has paid them to be in print. Is this really the best way to respectability? Maybe. I'm not sure, though. I do have a biographical sketch of myself on my other site. You can read briefly about what I'm doing, see a copy of my professional vitae, and see a spiffy photo of me.

To summarize: my scholarly credentials are that I am a PhD candidate at Texas A&M University, working on my dissertation, and trying my best to combine two worlds-- the Internet & the Ivory Tower. Sometimes it's not easy. I do it, in the spare time I can squeeze, for love, and have not been lucky enough to get a grant that would allow me to hire more experts who could make the site perfect. I wish! But my credentials are those of any scholar-- I am not a University, or commercial interest, but I DO follow basic standards of academic research and fact checking. I do, however, encourage all readers to use MULTIPLE sources-- if you're not sure, cross check us with a print source-- go to the library, like the rest of us!

Write to Kim here

page updated May 2003