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Sources and strategies for research in English Literature.
Last Updated: Jan 15, 2014 URL: http://gouldguides.carleton.edu/engl Print Guide RSS Updates

Finding Criticism Print Page
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English

Quick topic search

  • Reference Universe
    Search the indexes of Gould Library's print and online reference books.
  • Credo Reference
    General reference and resource discovery tool that provides access to hundreds of subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographical information, images, bibliographies, and links to journal articles, books, and online sources.

Finding Books and Articles

For books and articles from our library...

  • If you see results that are on or even close to your topic, click the "See All Results" link near the top of the result list and you'll find many more options for refining your search.

  • Search using just a few important words at a time for best results.

  • More information on how to use Bridge2

     


For books at other libraries...

WorldCat:

  • Request books you find on WorldCat using the "Request Via Illiad" links

 


For more refined searches for articles...

  • MLA International Bibliography
    This is one of the most comprehensive databases for literary studies. One great trick is to put the name of a poem, story, book, or author's name into one search box and then select "Subject Heading (All)" from the drop-down box that normally says "All fields." All the resulting articles will then be about that poem, story, book, or author.
  • JSTOR
    Search the full text of 148 core Literature journals. Most journals do not have current content, though they almost all go back to the very first issue of the first volume of each journal.
    Be sure to limit your search to the "Language & Literature" discipline to reduce the number or irrelevant results!
  • Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature
    A list of monographs, periodical articles, critical editions of literary works, book reviews, and collections of essays published anywhere in the world on the English language or literature. 1920 - current.

Web of Knowledge for Finding Theoretical Perspectives

One of the trickiest things to do is find scholarly work that takes a particular theoretical approach. This is because articles, books, and book chapters are described according to the topics they tackle rather than the methods they use to tackle them. So what happens if you want to find a deconstructionist reading of Virginia Woolf? Well, there is no perfect way to do this, and it will always take a lot of digging and critical reading, but the Web of Knowledge can give you a better starting place than most. Here's how:

  1. Click "cited reference search" and enter the name of a key theorist in your area (in this case, perhaps Michel Foucault) in the format they specify (in this case Foucault M*) and press "Search."

  2. Select all the options that appear to be for your theorist. For often-cited people (such as Foucault) use the "Select All*" button, even though this will probably gather in a few citations that aren't relevant to your search. Also note that this will only gather the first 500 results. If you really want to be thorough, you'll have to do searches for 500 results at a time (next time starting on page 11 for results 501-550) and then OR those searches together in your search history. (Come talk to me for help interpreting these instructions.)

  3. At the bottom of that page, click "finish search."
    Don't spend time looking at your results yet!

  4. Click "search" (up near where you first clicked "Cited Reference Search") and enter the name of the author or work you're interested in (in this case Virginia Woolf), and click search.
    Don't spend time looking at your results yet!

  5. Click "Search History" (up near "Search" and "Cited Reference Search"), check the boxes next to your two searchs, select the "AND" radio button, and click "combine."

  6. NOW dig through your results to see if there are any there that deal with your author/work.

The idea is that if the article talks about your author or work, and if it cites a primary theorist in your area, then the chances are greater that the work will either tackle your topic through your theoretical lens or will point you toward another article that does. This is not a foolproof method, remember. Scholars will often cite theorists in order to refute them, or because they say something that's tangentially related, or even just in passing. Your chances are improved somewhat, though, over reading every article on your author or work that shows up in the MLA International Bibliography.

Iris Jastram

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Iris Jastram

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Did you Know?

Scholarly biographies often include sections in which they analyse the subject's work. Check out the Finding Biography section and then see if any of those biographical works include any discussion of the literary work you're studying (check the index at the back of a book).

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