tor in an Olsen fiction, it is a moment of perceiving, of knowing that there is shape and direction in the ceaseless flow of what must be. Mazie comes to writing occasionally; so does her mother, Anna, who “stagger[s]” in the sunlight and moves beyond the helpless “My head is balloony, balloony” to sing her love for her eldest child and her joy in motherhood: “O Shenandoah, I love thy daughter, / I’ll bring her safe through stormy water.”
But more often, when Mazie is immersed in a potentially luminous moment, she perceives it as “stammering light” and when “she turns her hand to hold” it, “she grasps shadows.” Anna moves through the daily drudgery “not knowing an every-hued radiance floats on her hair.” As for Jim, her husband, “the things in his mind so vast and formless, so terrible and bitter, cannot be spoken, will never be spoken–till the day that hands will find a way to speak this: hands.”
The hands are Olsen’s hands, grasping her pen to copy a fragment of Walt Whitman’s poem as the epigraph to her novel “From the Thirties”:
No picture, poem, statement, passing them to the future:
Yonnondio! Yonnondio!–unlimn’d they disappear;
To-day gives place, and fades–the cities, farms, factories fade;
A muffled sonorous sound, a wailing word is borne through the air for a moment,
Then blank and gone and still, and utterly lost.
Yonnondio! That evocative word is the emblem of Tillie Olsen’s aesthetic. It is her plea, and her pledge: that the unobserved should be perceived, that the fleeting should be fixed, that the inarticulate should come to writing.
Source: Ellen Cronan Rose, “Limming: or Why Tillie Writes,” in The Hollins Critic, Vol. XIII, No. 2, April, 1976, pp. 1-13. Reproduced by permission.
Source Database: Contemporary Literary Criticism
Reading and Printing Secondary Sources from the Literature Resource Center
By now, you have learned
- how to find the database called the Literature Resource Center at the WSCC library and
- how to find secondary sources for Tillie Olsen in that database.
Examining the Search Results
On March 03, 2004 there were 16 items found from a search for Tillie Olsen as a keyword AND as and author AND “I Stand Here Ironing” as any words in a title. (REMEMBER TO CHOOSE “CRITICAL ESSAY” AS THE DOCUMENT TYPE; REMEMBER TO CHOOSE “*ALL DATABASES*” AS THE DATABASE.)
Some of the results of that search on that date returned the following secondary sources:
1. O’Connor, William Van, “The Stories of Tillie Olsen,” in Studies in Short Fiction.
2. Rose, Ellen Cronan, “Limming: or Why Tillie Writes,” in The Hollins Critic.
3. Culver, Sara. “Extending the Boundaries of the Ego: Eva in ‘Tell Me a Riddle.” in Midwestern Miscellany X.
and so on.
Reading the Secondary Source
To read the secondary source, you can click on the blue title of the article. When you do that, you will see the entire article on your screen. As you read through the essay, you will see several words in black bold typeface. Some of those black bold words are titles; others are the keywords (Tillie Olsen, “I Stand Here Ironing”) that you set up in the search engine values as you began the search.
As you read through the essay by skimming and scanning, do not expect the entire essay to always be about the story you are interested in. (Often these essays compare and contrast several stories by the one author or several stories by several authors.)
Therefore, what is more likely is that you will find one or two paragraphs of interest to you for your paper. Use your skimming and scanning skills to read quickly over the parts you do not need and then to zero in on the parts of the essay that holds interest to you.
Printing the Secondary Source
When you find a source that has parts of interest to you, you will want to print out the essay or parts of it. There are several ways for you to do that. Here are a few of the possibilities:
1.Using Print from Your Browser
You can print the essay by going to the word FILE at the top of your browser window. Click on File; then click on Print. This works, but it prints out a lot of blank space and often prints extra, blank pages.
2. Using Print from the Literature Resource Center
You can print the essay by going to the word Print which can be found above the words REVISE SEARCH and CURRENT RESULTS near the top of the page. You will also see an icon of a printer beside this word. This print option is helpful since it doesn’t print a lot of extraneous material from the page.
3. Printing an Email to Yourself
You can send this essay to yourself as an email. To do that, find the word Email above the words REVISE SEARCH and CURRENT RESULTS near the top of the page. You will also see an icon of an envelope beside this word. This option lets you send yourself an email and then print the email from your email software–good because it does not print a lot of extraneous material from the page.
4. Using Copy and Paste in Word
You can highlight portions or all of the essay and then copy and paste it in a Word file. To do that, use your cursor to highlight the material you wish to copy. After highlighting, hit CTRL C (or right click) to COPY. Then, open a new page in your word processor, click into the new page. Then, hit CTRL V (or right click) to PASTE. Save the file and then print it.
Saving the Source Information
Remember to retain the source information (title and author and journal name, etc) as you print out the source material. You will need to use this information later as you cite the source in your paper and as you construct the entry for your Works Cited page.
Critically Reading and Annotating Secondary Sources from the Literature Resource Center
By now, you have learned how to
- find the database called the Literature Resource Center at the electronic database library
- find secondary sources for Tillie Olsen in that database
- examine the search results
- read and quickly skim and scan the source, and
- print the source or parts of it.
Now that you have printed out sources of interest to you, you are ready to carefully read the source, annotate the print out of the source, and take notes about the secondary source.
1. Read the secondary source differently from how you read stories, poems, plays. You will want to see the larger argument (thesis) of the entire essay and find details, examples, explanations, and reasons that support the thesis of the source and how they relate to the points you want to make in your paper.
2. Underline sections of the print out that are of interest to you.
3. Write notes in the margins of the print out responding to the ideas of the secondary source.
4. Find information from the secondary source that might support your points. Or, find information that takes issue with or disagree with your points. You can still use information from a source that you disagree with or that disagrees with you. You will just want to work the dissenting information into your argument in your own essay–using concession, refutation, acknowledging points of disagreement or ambiguity.
5. Write out paraphrases of sections of the secondary source that are of greatest interest and use to you in your paper.
6. Write out summaries of sections of the secondary source that are of great interest and use to you in your paper.
7. Throughout, think about how you will work the ideas, information, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries into your own paper.
8. Throughout, avoid plagiarism by citing all the ideas, information, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from the secondary sources.
Now you will want to incorporate material from the secondary source into the draft of Paper 5 you have already written. You will do this in the same manner that you integrated secondary source material in Paper 4.Take a look back at how to introduce borrowed material (ideas, information, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries) from the secondary source into your paper.