All posts by Becca Betty

Focus on Forms: Annotated Bibliographies

Do you sometimes reach the end of a semester and can’t remember anything about texts you read at the start of the course? Or, have you compiled a long list of Works Cited for a project and find that the sources are starting to run together in your mind? An annotated bibliography could help with that! For this series, “Focus on Forms,” we’ll be highlighting writing forms you may encounter in your courses and delve into any unique qualities they hold, beginning with annotated bibliographies.

Annotated bibliographies are like Works Cited pages with opinions—housing collections of sources with a short synthesis that may include a brief summary, key themes relevant between items, and how these sources contribute to your project’s goal. This index of citations evolves from a static list with the added information that assesses the accuracy of the pieces and relevance to your overall research goals. They can also be a bit tricky because annotations depend on concise, powerful execution to not only capture key elements of the text but also reflect their importance to your research project or interests. This is a curated collection; the pieces selected should consider what is unique about each text and how it contributes to the collection as a whole. Annotating a bibliography can help solidify a text’s resonance with your research or assignment and bring out new directions for your project (or remind you what ideas belong to what text at the end of a long semester). All in all, an annotated bibliography can test your research skills, synthesizing abilities, and increase your capacity to write concisely and powerfully to create a highly useful reference document.

For more on the mechanics of creating an annotated bibliography, check out Purdue OWL’s excellent breakdown (with links to guidelines for MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations): .

Want to learn more about creating a curated source list? Chat with a librarian during their “Ask a Librarian” hours online, over the phone, or in person at the McNairy Library: .

Have questions about bibliographies, sources, citations and more? The Millersville Writing Center is ready to help: .

Romance Novel Recommendations – Spring 2023 

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but the love for a good book never fades away. Whether you spent the holiday curled up with a good romance novel or treated yourself to a classic love story, there’s always room for more love in our reading lives. With that in mind, here are some romance novel recommendations from the Millersville University Department of English and World Languages faculty members that will keep the love alive all year long. So grab your favorite mug of tea or coffee, cozy up in your comfiest spot, and get ready to fall in love with these heartwarming reads.  

A special thank you to Dr. Pfannenstiel, Dr. Mando, and Dr. McCollum-Clark for their recommendations. 

 Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas 

Recommended by Dr. Amber Nicole Pfannenstiel 

If you enjoy typical romance novels, Marrying Winterborne may have what you like plus a “frank discussion on social differences, class differences, and the plight of women of the Regency era.” This novel features a plot in which an “aristocratic, impoverished, neglected heroine falls in love with wealthy businessman.” What follows is an exploration of “social miscues, class differences, and what women do/do not have access to.” 

When asked her personal reasons for recommending this book, Dr. Pfannenstiel writes “it is enjoyable and informative. As an avid reader of romance, I have thoughts and opinions on TDTL [Too Dumb To Live] heroines – Helen is one of my favorites. Reading as her story unfolds and she navigates society, reading the tangential characters and their version of the plight of women is phenomenal.” 

This book is part of the Lancaster Public Library System collection in physical, eBook, and audio formats and can be accessed for free with a public library card. 

Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins 

Recommended by Dr. Justin Mando 

Looking for something more daring and fanciful? Still Life with Woodpecker might fit that vibe. “This is the wild love story of Princess Leigh-Cheri and Bernard Mickey Wrangle (A.K.A. Woodpecker) full of explosive activism and an earnest crack at answering the question, ‘How do you make love stay?’” 

Dr. Mando relates “I read this book back in high school and just read it again recently, along with a handful of other Tom Robbins favorites. His books are always a fun ride.” 

This Tom Robbins book and others are available in physical form through the Lancaster Public Library System. 

Possession: a romance by A.S. Byatt 

Recommended by Dr. Kim McCollum-Clark 

If you are looking for something framed in a relatable context, Possession: a romance might hit close to your heart as it “features ENGLISH GRAD STUDENTS who find love letters from a (made-up) 19th century famous author and an early feminist author.”  Mixing narratives and poetry, “their 20th Century love story is juxtaposed with the earlier one beautifully!” 

When asked “why read it?” Dr. McCollum-Clark enthusiastically replied “Are you kidding?  English majors in love? And poets in love–and poetry to boot? The writing is gorgeous! It’s definitely a re-read!” 

Possession: a romance is available through the Millersville McNairy Library in physical form and the Lancaster Public Library System in physical and audiobook form. 

Upcoming Event: Graduate School Fair – Register Today!

Millersville University is hosting a Graduate School Fair for interested students and alumni Tuesday, February 14th, 2023 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm in the Student Memorial Center, Reighard Multipurpose Room (MPR). Register to attend this event with 50+ Grad School representatives and free coffee and cupcakes from Lancaster Cupcake while supplies last. The fair presents opportunities for students to meet with recruiters to discuss topics like: how to get admitted, finance options, program specifics, and school/ town culture all of which can contribute to choosing the best program to meet your goals.

To register and see more details about the event and schools attending, login to Handshake with your Millersville credentials, lookup “Millersville’s Graduate School Fair 2023” under events, and click on join event in the upper right hand corner. Students can register the day of the event or even sign up today to communicate your interest.

Beating Writer’s Block Tips: Alternate Starting Points

Welcome to February and welcome back to our series on beating writer’s block. Last week was about engaging with your class materials (articles, textbooks, videos, etc.) and giving yourself time to process new information. This week we’ll look at another possible stumbling block you may be encountering.

Now that you’ve consumed the content and given yourself time to process, this time when you sit down you produce something but after an hour it is only an elaborately drawn “The” at the top of your page. What gives? You may be facing a second hurdle: feeling trapped by the way you think a paper “should” be written.  Sometimes you may feel obligated to follow a linear construction for your paper – starting with an intro and finishing with a conclusion. I’ve got great news for you! You don’t have to start at the beginning! If you’ve caught on to a good idea, follow it to its fulfillment, even if you know it is not the first concept you will introduce in your piece. Write down everything that comes to mind. Writing down what you know will set the foundation for you to engage with the parts of an assignment that you may be struggling with. If you’ve encountered a composition course, you may have heard a professor say that “writing is a process,” which is to say that you have options in how you approach an assignment and these approaches will not be the same for every piece you create. Finding an alternate starting point, such as creating an outline, storyboard, or even just a keywords list with knowledge you want to include can engage your mind with a new infrastructure to help you move past a writing approach that isn’t working for you. 

The Millersville’s Writing Center ( ) can help you with this and more. Tune in next week as we continue this series and best of luck with your upcoming fourth week of class! 

Beating Writer’s Block Tips: Content is King

by Becca Betty

A new semester is here and Spring is right around the corner, prompting thoughts of fresh beginnings and launching us into new aspirations for 2023. However, as students and writers we can sometimes encounter difficulty in facing down these new beginnings, many times coined as the phrase “experiencing writer’s block.” Over the next few weeks, this blog will be posting some tips on getting started and adapting our mental frameworks to overcome common stress-points while writing. The advice that follows is drawn from my own experience as a student and writer and is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a starting point from which you may form your own systems for combatting rhetorical clogs in your critical thinking process.  

To start off with, content is king. A deep understanding of the materials you are working with will form the basis of a strong argument. So, you’ve read, listened to, watched, or otherwise consumed your media of interest and sit down to write out your assignment and …nothing happens. Hurdle number one: the thoughts aren’t coming. My advice is to stand back up and take a step back from the assignment to give your mind time to process the new information it has just consumed. Processing new knowledge takes time, a luxury we don’t often afford ourselves as students with approaching deadlines, but even giving your mind a five-minute break before returning to the task at hand could give you the extra push you need to get started. This is kind of the biological equivalent of the technological standard “have you tried turning it off then turning it back on again?”  

The Millersville’s Writing Center ( ) can help you with this and more. Tune in next week as we continue this series and best of luck with your upcoming third week of class!