Paul Brians' Study Guides FAQs

I originally created these study guides for the use of my students at Washington State University, but I am happy that they have become popular with thousands of others. However, because they have become so popular, I cannot deal with all of the e-mail that comes my way concerning them. If you are about to write me about a study guide, please read through the following first.

May I have permission to reprint one of your study guides?
I routinely grant permission for such reproduction if it is done for a nonprofit educational purpose, but I like to be notified. Drop me an e-mail if you do this, please. Reproductions should include the URL of the original (omitting the outdated ":8080" string that many people are still using, please) and cite me as author. Commercial publishers should write me to negotiate reprint rights.

May I create a mirror of one of your study guides?
I rarely grant permission for mirrors. A Chinese group in Taiwan created a Chinese-language version of one of my guides with my permission, and a federal agency mirrored another of my resources for the exclusive use of employees on its intranet, behind a firewall which made the original inaccessible to them. More ordinary requests to mirror my pages are usually denied, for several reasons. 1) I like to retain control over my work, updating it whenever I need to. 2) I like people to be able to browse from one of my pages to another, exploring my site at will. 3) The only recompense I get for this work comes from "hits" showing on my counters--and visitors to mirrors don't trip my counters.

Feel free to link to my pages, but I do like to know about it when you do.

Can you send me the answers to the questions in your study guide?
The study guides are designed to prompt careful, thoughtful readers to work out their own answers as they read through the texts discussed. I do not have a file of answers to send out. I'm occasionally willing to give advice to a student or teacher who has made an honest effort to work out an answer and wants to check with me to see whether they've hit on what I was thinking of; but I don't run an answering service for the study guides.

Where can I find more study guides?
You'll find a list of all my study guides on this page. For serious research in the humanities, see The Voice of the Shuttle and the eServer. But often you'll turn up more useful material about literary and philosophical topics in a quick visit to a moderate-sized library. A librarian can often show you valuable resources in a few minutes that you could search for in vain for hours on the Internet.

I was just wondering, what do you think the principal motivations of each of the characters is and how does the conclusion relate to the introduction? (Or other obviously teacher-assigned questions).
Your teacher wants you to do these assignments yourself. I am not in the business of undermining the work of my colleagues at other schools.

can u help me write my paper its due tommorow im desperate!!!!
Please spare me this sort of thing. In the first place, you're writing an English professor--this is not the time to use sloppy Internet-speak. I won't nit-pick your prose, but at least take the trouble to hit the shift key to create proper capitals, and punctuate your sentences. In the second place, I'm a teacher, and I frown on my own students getting someone else to do their work. If you were my student I'd report you to the authorities and try to have you kicked out of school, so I'm not likely to do the homework of a total stranger. "Desperate" almost always means the writer didn't care enough about the assignment to get started early--another of my pet peeves.

I don't have time to read the book. Can you give me a plot summary?
My goal in creating these guides to encourage readers to engage closely with texts than I care about. The last thing I want to do is help somebody avoid reading them. The only study guide which contains a plot summary is the one on Rushdie's Satanic Verses, for reasons which are explained there. Good assignments should not be doable by merely reading my guides and ignoring the assigned texts. If you're able to get a passing grade out of your teacher by using my work alone you're not only cheating the teacher, you're cheating yourself of some wonderful experiences.

Why do you write about so many different topics?
Although my title is "Professor of English," my degrees are in Comparative Literature; and I have always been interested in comparative arts and humanities topics. Most of my courses include some music, art, or philosophy, along with traditional literary texts. I consider my field to be the history of ideas. You'll find very few traditional English and American literary works discussed here--my colleagues at WSU take care of that sort of thing.

I want more information about using these study guides.
Try reading About These Study Guides.

Can I take a course from you online?
Sorry, I'm retired now, and no longer offering online courses.

What's your e-mail address?
Keep it clear, short, polite, and observe the above warnings, and I may well write back to you. But be aware that I sometimes travel and am not answering my e-mail.

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Last revised 6/1/2011