English 111 – Oropeza

“Dig” by Sadie Wendell Mitchell (Library of Congress)

About this Guide:

This guide provides students with recommended resources and strategies for conducting research for English 111 with Professor Oropeza.

Use the tabs above navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignments

For this course, you will write literary analyses, using different approaches and drawing on sources for literary criticism and historical context.

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Choosing Keywords

Sometimes the words you use to describe a topic are too specific, or just different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. Before you search, try coming up with several ways to describe your topic.

For example, some other keywords for teenagers might be adolescents or youth.

Biographical Information

To find biographical information about an author, try adding the keyword biography to your search, as in:

    Ursula K. Le Guin biography
    Langston Hughes biography
    Tip: Print books in our library will have a call number beginning in the 900s if they include mostly biographical information, and a call number beginning in the 800s if they include mostly criticism and analysis of an author’s works.

Literary Criticism

Keep in mind that you may not find literary criticism about the specific work(s) you are considering in your paper. Instead, try looking for criticism about your author’s work in general, by including terms such as “criticism,” “interpretation,” or “analysis” in your search. For example:

    W.H. Auden criticism
    Julia Alvarez analysis

Historical Context

To avoid being overwhelmed by too much information about the historical context in which your author wrote, try narrowing your results by including keywords related to specific aspects of the historical context that you think are most relevant. For example:

    Civil rights movements United States 20th century history
    Women 20th century social conditions
    World War I social aspects

Reference Sources

Reference sources provide an excellent starting point for your research on authors, works of literature, and historical time periods. Print reference books are available in the Luria Library Reference section. Ask a librarian for help finding a reference book for your topic. Or, use one of the library’s reference databases to find essays from online reference books:

Online Reference Sources

  • Credo Reference A database that includes the full text of over 800 reference books.


The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks covering literary criticism topics. You can earch the library catalog for literary criticism on an author’s work (for the best results, add a word such as “criticism” or “interpretation” to your search), or for books about medicine or literature and medicine.


Use these library databases to search for articles that provide critique and interpretation of authors and particular works. If you don’t find information about the particular story you are considering in your paper, try searching for criticism of the author in general.

  • Artemis (formerly Literature Resources from Gale) This database is a great starting point for finding literary criticism about particular works or authors.
  • MagillOnLiterature Plus Contains information about literary works and authors, a glossary of literary terms, and overview essays providing details about important literary genres, time periods, and national literatures.
  • JSTOR Contains articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects, including literature.
  • Project MUSE Provides complete, full-text versions of scholarly journals in a variety of subject areas, including literature.

For information about social and historical background, consider using these databases:

  • Academic Search Premier Provides full text for nearly 5,000 periodicals in a wide range of subject areas. Use this database to find biographical information and literary criticism about an author, and information about the historical context in which an author wrote.
  • America: History and Life with Full Text Covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Use this database to find information about the historical context in which an author wrote.
  • History Reference Center Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History. Use this database to find information about the historical context in which an author wrote.

Evaluating Websites

Finding good websites for college research can be challenging and time-consuming. Be sure to evaluate any websites you find, using the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information
  • Expertise: The source of the information
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information

Citation Guidelines

The following resources will help you construct citations using the MLA 8th edition format: