This guide is designed to help you find the library materials you need for literary research. Ask a Librarian for further assistance.
Online Databases (Library Research Tools)
For literary research there are several indexes that are useful, however three are particularly so: Expanded Academic Index, Academic Search Premier and the MLA Bibliography.
- Expanded Academic Index and Academic Search Premier
Expanded Academic Index is an INFOTRAC database while Academic Search Premier is an EBSCO database. Both databases have a similar purpose. They cite articles in professional journals and in general interest periodicals such as magazines and newspapers. Approximately 80% of the citations in each database are accompanied by links or icons to the full-text of the article. Each database indexes and provides full-text articles from approximately fifty literary journals. Entering an author's name followed by the word criticism ( ernest hemingway criticism) will take you to matching citations.
- MLA International Bibliography
MLA indexes 1200 journals and chapters appearing in several thousand books of essays in the fields of language and literature. Your author's last name and key words from the title of a literary work (hemingway and white elephants) usually constitutes a good way to search this database. It is not helpful to search on the word criticism when using MLA. The MLA provides links to full-text articles in less than 20% of the citations on average. So it is useful to have a second window in your browser open to TD Net when using this database in order to determine if the article needed is in a different database or available in paper or microfilm.
Books of literary criticism (3rd floor and ebook Collection database)
Use the online catalog to find criticisms on your author in the library’s main book collection (3rd floor) and in the ebook Collection (EBSCO) database. Links to the online catalog appear on the library’s home page and in all of the subject specific lists of library databases. Ebook Collection is a full-text electronic database of research books on all academic disciplines, including literature. Those with a remote access account may access this database from outside the library. Each book in the ebook Collection database has a record in the online catalog and the database can also be searched separately. For finding books of literary criticism keep in mind the following points:
- books of criticism on literary authors will be found by doing a subject or keyword search using the author's name as your search term. Doing an author search will only result in books written by that author.
- if you do an alphabetical search of the online catalog and then select subject from the drop down list, enter your author's name (Faulkner, William) and in the resulting list of headings look for the sub-heading criticism and interpretation (Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 --Criticism and Interpretation). If you do a keyword search, and select subject keyword from the drop down list, then it doesn’t matter whether you enter last name or first name first. In a keyword search you can also enter the word criticism along with your author’s name to narrow down to the items with the heading criticism and interpretation. In ebook Collection, doing either a subject or keyword search using your author’s name as a search term is generally sufficient to find all items in the database.
- to find criticisms on a specific literary work (1)do the step above and then once you have located books of criticism on your author use the index of those books for specific references to your story, novel or poem. -OR- (2)do a subject keyword search and enter your author's last name and a key phrase from the title (Faulkner As I Lay Dying or Hemingway Sun also Rises).
Reference books (1st Floor and in online databases)
Once you have found criticisms on your author and his or her writings, books from the library’s first floor reference section may be used to further your research--i.e. to provide general information on an author’s life and writings. Many of these sources are also available in electronic format through the library’s web site. Select “choose databases by subject” on the home page and then literature from the subject categories to find these databases. Categories of reference sources you may find helpful include:
- PLOT SUMMARIES
Masterplots offers brief (2 page) interpretive plot summaries of literary works. This source is available online as MagillOnLiteraturePlus.
- CRITICAL SUMMARIES
This category includes several multi-volume sets that contain excerpts of criticisms on literary authors. Contemporary Literature Criticism is one of these sets that is available online. You can search it either separately or together with other reference sources through the Literature Resource Center (which is listed with the literary databases).
- BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARIES
This category includes several multi-volume sets that focus on the lives of literary writers. Many of these offer critical analyses as well as detailed biographies of the authors. Contemporary Authors and The Dictionary of Literary Biography are two of these sets that are available online. You can search each, either separately or together, with other reference sources through the Literature Resource Center.
Periodicals (1st and 2nd floors)
Locate current sources of information by using periodical indexes to find journal articles on your author. Indexes are located on the library's web site by clicking either “choose databases by subject” or “choose databases by name” under Research Tools on the home page. The indexes can be accessed from outside the library with a remote access account. Once you use the indexes to find citations to articles on your author, then locate articles by looking for a full-text icon or link next to the citation. When such a link is not present, use the TD Net database, which is available on the library’s home page, by clicking “Locate Periodicals.” TD Net is a searchable database of all library subscriptions that will tell you what issues we own and in which of the following formats a specific article may be located:
- paper (located on the second floor)
- microform (located on the second floor)
- electronic (full-text articles are found in many of the indexes accessed through the library's web site and may be opened from a list of citations via either a hyperlink or an icon).
- Interlibrary Loan is a valuable fourth option that allows you to secure articles in journals not owned by this library.