English 004 (Worthington):American Dream and Langston Hughes "Dream Deferred": CliffsNotes

Where are the CliffsNotes?

Cliffs Notes

How come you do not carry Cliffs Notes?

At the reference desk, we have four articles on reserve.  They will let you know about the quality of Cliffs Notes and then you should understand why we do not carry them.

When it comes to literary criticism and study guides, Cliffs Notes may be the most famous resource available due to incredible marketing, but that does NOT mean they are superior resources

Cliffs Notes are usually written by undergraduate and graduate students, and not always English majors.  In-depth studies on some of the Notes have revealed glaring inaccuracies and incoherent interpretations.  As far as most libraries are concerned, Cliffs Notes are poor resources as either literary criticism works or study guides. 

At Chabot College Library, we have a fantastic database called Literature Resource Center.  It includes many literary criticism essays and articles, biographies with related criticisms, and great work overviews written by scholars in the fields

For our most studied authors, we also order books that contain many literary criticism essays as well.  Go into the Library Catalog, enter the author's last name than first name and then click on Subject.   Ebsco Host Academic Search Premier also contains a wealth of literary criticism articles as well.  We have so much better materials than Cliffs Notes.

If you are using Cliffs Notes as a substitute to reading the original work, itself, keep in mind the authors of these Notes are your peers, fellow students, and just because they read the book in detail does not always mean they are the best readers.  In fact, in-depth studies on Cliffs Notes have revealed many glaring inaccuracies and incoherent interpretations!  Relying on Cliffs Notes can be the same as relying on what your friend overheard from a conversation.  You're also not allowing yourself to read the author's original words and style and not allowing your OWN reading of the work, itself. 

The purpose of reading literary works is not simply to get grades or credit, but to expose yourself to various expressions of the English language as well as to figure out the many complexities of the human condition.  Do you want a college sophomore who is desperate for money try to explain that to you?  If you have not read the book and do not have time to read it at this point, it is time to talk to your instructor and make arrangements for you to catch up.  It still takes time to read Cliffs Notes, and sometimes it even takes longer to read the Notes than the original work, itself.  Reading Cliffs Notes is not a time saver, nor will it enhance your education. 

For More Information

Cliffs Notes Resources

 Atkins, Norman.  "Fast Food for Thought: A Brief History of Cliff's Notes and the Man who Made Synopsizing Texts Synonymous with his Name."  Rolling Stone March 26, 1987.  110 (6).

 "Clifton Keith Hillegrass."  Newsmakers 1989, Gale Research, 1989.  Biography Resource Center.  Alameda Country Lib., Hayward, CA.  20 May 2003 <http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itweb/alamco_it?db=bioRC>

 Furnas, J.C.  "Why Johnny Needn't Read."  The American Scholar 61 (1992): 247-253.  Ebsco Host Academic Search Premier.  Chabot College Lib., Hayward, CA.  20 May 2003  <http://search.epnet.com/>

 Yaw, Yvonne.  "Students' Study Guides and the Wife of Bath."  The Chaucer Review 35 (2001): 318-332.  Project MUSE.  Chabot College Lib., Hayward, CA.  20 May 2003 <http://muse.uq.edu.au/journals/chaucer_review/v035/35.3yaw.html>