An Ironic Search

In my search for a secondary source journal article on Sidney Lanier and his essays, I found myself doing the opposite of what I usually do when scavenging internet databases. I ultimately found my article by backtracking and making my search more and more general in JHSearch. This is a lesson in where to begin researching: starting vague and then trying to get more specific once you have learned more.  My first attempt is depicted below. I searched in the list of all databases available for databases focused on subjects related to Lanier and American authors at that time.

Flowchart: first search attempt. Personal photo.

After this proved unsuccessful, I restarted from the beginning to find my source. Instead of searching for a database and then searching within that database for information about Lanier, I searched generally through JHSearch for all articles, reviews, and other resources using the search term “Sidney Lanier.” In doing such a general search I was naturally inundated with irrelevant articles containing the names of Laniers and Sidneys other than Sidney Lanier, but the search also returned many useful, topical journal articles. The article is entitled “Manifest Prosody,” published in the journal Victorian Poetry, and I have saved it in my library records for future use. I believe it will be helpful as a secondary source because I am interested in studying Lanier’s essays in particular instead of his poetry, and this article examines and attempts to explain Lanier’s basis for writing on the Anglo-Saxonism of poetry, arguing Lanier was trying to create “an American cultural genealogy firm in its English roots” (Rudy, “Manifest Prosody” 253). The path that led me to this article is shown in the second flowchart below.

Flowchart 2, second and successful search. Personal photo.

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