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Scholarship is Conversation
As you conduct research for your paper, use library resources to explore the conversations around the authors, works, and themes you are most interested in. As you see what other literary scholars have written, put yourself in conversation with them. What do they have to say? Do you agree? Where do you diverge? What new ideas do you have to offer? How do your new ideas fit into and extend what literary scholars have already said?
Use the Research as Conversation tab above, as well as the Search Tips tab to help you refine your research approach. Remember that you are not trying to find any two sources that relate to your texts; you are looking for scholars who contribute to the conversation you are pursuing.
Background and Context
Think about the interdisciplinary angle on your topic. What other disciplines might be having conversations about your topic? Do historians have something to add? Or scholars who specialize in gender and/or race? Use research guides from other disciplines to identify resources in other disciplines that might be useful.
And here are some recommended reference books that might help, too. The list isn't comprehensive, so be sure to browse the nearby shelves for other books. And a reminder - the Reference Collection is on the main floor of the Library, Beck Hall side.
A New Literary History of America
Call Number: Reference PS 92 .N39 2009
The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States
Call Number: Reference PS 147 .O94 1995
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Call Number: Reference PS 221
Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History
Call Number: Reference E 169.1 .E624 2001
Women in American History
Call Number: Reference HQ 1410 .W6468 2017
Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895
Call Number: Reference 185 .E545 2006
Looking for Literary Criticism and Context
As you take a look to see what literary scholars have said about and writer and a topic, think about these questions:
- What theoretical approach does the author take?
- What theme or themes does the author focus on?
- When was this published? (Approaches to literature change over time.)
- How does this fit with my ideas? With other scholars' ideas?
Look for criticism that is relevant and appears to be of high quality. You may have to skim a lot of works of criticism before you decide which works you think should be part of your conversation.
MLA International Bibliography
The major research resource for information on English literature, foreign languages and linguistics. Includes references to scholarly articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations; coverage dates back to the 1920's.
Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
Project Muse Basic College Collection
Project MUSE provides full text electronic access to over 100 scholarly journals in humanities, the social sciences, and mathematics. Topics covered include literary theory; classics; history and cultural studies; philosophy; film, theatre and the performing arts; political science and mathematics.
Gustavus Library Search
Find books in our library, articles, and books you can borrow from other libraries (if you have several days available to wait for them). Look to the left-hand side to see various ways to refine your search.
Interlibrary Loan is like Amazon, but without the bills! If we don't have a book or article you want, we will get it for you. In the catalog, you can widen a search to "libraries worldwide," click on the title of the book you want, then use the "request" button. In a few days you'll get an email when the book arrives and can pick it up at the information desk.
If we don't have an article, use the "find it" option in article databases to request it. You'll get a PDF of it in a day or two.
Use the "my library account" link on the left-hand side of the library's main page to get blank forms or check on the status of your ILLs.
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