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.

Paper Writing Assistance

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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
    Ursula K. LeGuin 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.

Books

The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks covering literary criticism topics. You can earch the library catalog (books+) 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.

Articles

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

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: How and why the source was created. Is it intended to educate, inform, persuade, sell, or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)? Is the source designed for the general public, students, or experts?
  • Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. Does the type of source meet your assignment’s requirements? Does the information answer your question, support your argument, or add something to your knowledge of the topic? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language? Do they leave out, or make fun of, important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. Do the authors support the information they present with strong factual evidence? Do they cite or provide links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources? Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
  • Expertise: The authority of the creators of the source. What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, experience, or other expertise? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Has the source been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review?
  • Newness: The age of the information. Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful? When was the information presented in the source first published or posted? Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?

Recommended Websites

For more help locating reliable information online, see the Finding Credible Web Sources research guide.

Citation Guidelines

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