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FYS: I Am the Scribe: The Invention of Writing and Books: Start Here

The content will focus on the most ancient songs, poems and passages from epics of a least the following cultures: China, and Japan, Scandinavia (including England), Greece and India.

I Am the Scribe: The Invention of Writing and Books

All speaking humans tell stories, and always have.  Some of these stories have fallen into books.  This seminar compares different ways songs and stories were written down, to consider why they were written, why they were written differently (or not), and then to try our hand at imitating how they wrote.  Along with the study of the content of early manuscripts and books, we will try to make manuscripts by hand, possibly even make our own book printed on a letter press. We want to learn how it feels for an I to write to some other You.

Suggested Subject Headings

Relevant Subject Headings:  Listed below are selected subject headings used to locate resources related to these topics. These subject headings can be used to locate sources in Worldcat and the  journal article databases.


Try this source to find background information : E-Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and more

Secondary sources (encyclopedia and dictionaries) available via Credo Reference

This a  great place to get a quick overview of a topic or concept, especially when starting your assignment.  Secondary sources describe, interpret, comment upon, analyze, summarize and process primary sources. 

Limit or Filter Your Results in Worldcat

The Frank Smith Library is offering a discovery layer called WorldCat Local.  WorldCat Local pulls together a large number of subscription databases (including SU's Library Catalog) into the search engine, increasing one's chances of finding results by keyword or phrase.  Whenever possible, links are provided directly to the online source identified.

Databases usually allow you to limit or filter your search results in various ways. These may include:

  • language
  • type of publication( articles, books, online resources)
  • age groups
  • date published
  • peer-reviewed
  • years
  • Southwestern owned materials

To the right side of the record you can focus by subject headings.

Having trouble finding the book you need in Worldcat@SU?  Try these helpful links:

GET IT Service (Interlibrary Loan)   --  don't have what you are looking for, use GET IT!

Earliest Narratives and Lyrics

Click here for Searchable Database of Longfellow Poems.

Hebrew and Christian epics : Song of Songs by Solomn, Book of Job, Tales of Naomi and Ruth, Revelations, or the Apocalypse, by St. John, island of Patmos.

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Digital Resources

These TABS offer quick access to various digitization projects, freely available on the web.  Here you can search among these online databases by title to view published facsimile editions of various epics and poems  of world literature. The database will provide a link to your selected title,  as well as thousands of books that are now in the public domain, meaning that they are not subject to copyright.  Notable sources include the following.

CELT is a searchable online collection of multilingual  texts of Irish literature and history.  Texts are accompanied by  introductions, background information, translations where possible and scholarly bibliographies.

The Icelandic Saga Database is an online resource dedicated to the digital publication of the Sagas of the Icelanders -- a large body of medieval literature which forms the foundation of the Icelandic literary tradition. This website contains all the extant Icelandic family sagas in an easily readable format using modernized Icelandic spelling, with Old Norse versions and translations into English and other languages made available where these exist in the public domain.  -- website

Find links to all the major extant Icelandic sagas. All the sagas are available in Icelandic with modernised spelling, while many are available translated into English or other languages, indicated by the flags below the links

The Online Medieval & Classical Library.  A collection of some of the most important literary works of Classical and Medieval civilization.

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books movies, software, music and more.





World Cat Local. Single-search access to items from the Southwestern library as well as holdings for other libraries in Texas, the United States and worldwide.

Internet Sacred Text Archive. This site is a freely available non-profit archive of electronic texts about religion, mythology, legends and folklore, and occult and esoteric topics. Texts are presented in English translation and, in some cases, in the original language." -- website

Hathi Trust Library is a digital preservation repository. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives. For example, Njál's Saga, translated from the old Icelandic, or White Aster: A Japanese Epic.

Updated daily.  Searches complete text of books, selected library  collections and publishers.   

Full view: If Google has determined that a book is out of copyright, or the publisher or rightsholder has given Google permission, the entire book from start to finish will be made available. If the book is in the public domain, it will be available for download, saving and printing a PDF version to read.




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Try these sources to read articles.

Try these sources to find literary criticism


  • Search by person (by or about), name of work (Song of Rowland) , keyword (Rowland).
  • Limit results by content type, document type, publication title.Added features in Artemis: (Watch a short video on how this database works.)
  • Term frequency: a diagram of how often your terms appear in works over time.
  • Term clusters: a diagram of where your search terms appear.

It is helpful to find out what others have written about the literary work you are studying.  Keep in mind that criticism has not been published on all literary works.  Literary criticisms can be found in 

The site is very intuitive, and you will see the value in accessing so many kinds of literary resources--biography, criticism, reviews, interviews, and primary texts--within a single database.

Medieval Manuscripts Websites

Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu

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