English 391 Course Guide
Research guide for English 391: Victorian Bodies
Bibliographer for English
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MLA International Bibliography
MLA is the most comprehensive database of quality scholarly articles in literature and related fields, and easier to search than many others. Like other databases provided by the Queens College Library, it is available in our database list. You can limit to only relevant databases by selecting “English” from the drop-down menu on the top.
Please make sure you use the Advanced Search rather than the basic.
Search Terms in MLA
MLA allows many different types of searches, including Person-About and Name Of Work. These allow you to search for literary authors and works (for instance, Charlotte Brontë or Jane Eyre) rather than the titles of the articles or their authors. Use one of these options to limit your search.
Use Keyword or Subject to search for themes or topics. For instance, if you are interested in the role of food in Jane Eyre, you might enter the term folktale or fairy tale or fantas* in the Keyword field. In some cases, it is possible to look through all the articles on a work, but this is certainly not true if you are searching for articles on a very famous work like Jane Eyre!
In the example above, OR means that your search will return all articles that mention folktales, fairy tales, fantasy, the fantastic, or all of the above. The asterisk in fantas*) is a wildcard, meaning that the database will find any word that begins with the letters preceding it. That is, you will find articles containing the word “fantasy” and articles containing the word “fantastic”, since both begin with “fantas*”. See this explanation for more information on searching.
You may not find as many articles on contemporary works. This is because there has not been enough time for the criticism to accumulate and not because of any problem with MLA or your searches. You may need to search for articles on the theme you are writing about instead of articles that discuss the work that interests you.
Don't expect to find all the articles you need with a single search. You will need to look at your results to garner new keywords, and try to think of different ways of expressing your topic. For instance, although food and hunger are clearly closely related topics, not all articles indexed under one term will be included under the other. Examine the subject headings to see if you are missing any useful terms, and try to think of similar ideas.
If you're not finding as much as you want, you may want to consider broadening your search to include other works by the same author, or looking at articles that may be relevant to part, if not all, of what you are interested in. Remember, an article not need to make exactly the same argument you are making in order to help you make your point.
Item Records in MLA
An item record in MLA includes a lot of useful information, including:
- Title and author of the article
- Source of the article, which may be a journal or a book
- Date of publication
- Language of article
- Subject terms—These can help you decide whether you are interested in an article, and provide keywords for further searching.
- A Find It button to help you get to the full text.
Item records do NOT include abstracts or full text. The next section has more information about getting full text when you have a citation.
Full Text & Exporting Citations from MLA
To get full text, click on the orange Find It button. A new window will pop up, and you will be presented with several options:
- Full Text Online
- If you click on this, you will usually be taken directly to the article. You may see several links if the item is available from multiple sources.
- CUNY has a copy
- This means there is a copy in print. The link takes you to the CUNY Catalog, where you can see whether the item is held at QC or another CUNY campus. If the item is a journal article, you will also need to check to make sure we have the correct issue. This information is available when you click on the word Queens in the catalog, under Holdings. You will know what date to look for because it is included in the citation in MLA.
- Request document via Interlibrary Loan
- This option allows you to get items that we do not own. If you click the link, most of the form will already be filled in. For JOURNAL ARTICLES, use ILL for items that are not at QC. For BOOKS, use it for items that are not held in CUNY. For books held in other CUNY libraries, use CLICS.
You must create an account the first time you use Interlibrary Loan!
If you want an article and you are not in a database or the Find It button is not available, you can do a Title begins with… search for the journal title in the CUNY Catalog. You will find our holdings, whether print or electronic.
A menu on the right side of each citation allows you to print, e-mail or download individual records in MLA. Or, you can do this all at once. A checkbox will be included near the top of each record. By checking it, you can add it to your Marked Items folder, which is linked at the top of the screen. There, you can print, email or download any number of checked records.
The CUNY Catalog
Browse the subject headings in the CUNY Catalog to find works on a particular author. For example, a Subject begins with… search for James, Henry will bring you a list of subheadings describing our books on Henry James. A particularly useful subheading, and one you will often see, is Criticism and Interpretation. Titles of works are also often listed as subheadings.
You can also do keyword searches for literary themes, some of which are grouped together in their own subject headings, such as: Children in literature, Children's literature or Gothic Revival (Literature). Once you find an appropriate subject heading, you can search for it using Subject begins with… from the main search page.
As with MLA, you might use this strategy to find relevant items that aren't specifically about the work you are studying, especially if information on the work that interests you is difficult to find.
You can search our collection at Queens College, or any other CUNY library, or all of them together. Choose with the Select Library menu. Use the Title Request feature to send books here from other CUNY libraries.
Reference works such as encyclopedias and dictionaries can be found on the third floor, and can serve many functions. See the English Literature Guide for information about types of reference works available in the library.
Browse the Shelves
Reference books will be on Level 3, while most other books will be on Level 5.
Books on literature are arranged first by time period, and then alphabetically, based on the author in question—that is, their author, in the case of primary texts, or the author of the works they cover, in the case of secondary works. Thus, books by and about nineteenth century authors will be before books about twentieth century authors Brontë will be earlier in that range than works by and about Wordsworth.
If you find a good book in the catalog, look at the books that are near it on the shelf. You may find something else of interest.
The best place to find journal articles on literature is MLA International Bibliography, which is discussed in some detail above. However, if you wish to search other databases, you can find them on the database page of the library website. Other useful databases include:
- Full text searching of journals in a wide array of fields. Make sure you select Language and Literature before you begin your search. Because you are searching the full-text, you will likely need to use more search terms than in MLA. In fact, this is a useful strategy when your search turns up too many items. Significant overlap with MLA, but you are likely to find different articles because of the different search capabilities.
- Project MUSE
- Full-text searching of over 200 journals. Provides less material than JSTOR, but better indexing. Some overlap with MLA.
- Literature Resource Center
- Not a good source for scholarly articles, but an excellent one for biographies, interviews and reviews. Often useful for contemporary literature about which a large body of scholarly work may not yet exist.
- Contemporary Literature Criticism
- Includes some biographical material, but also provides excerpts of criticism on a work. Once again, this may be useful for contemporary works which turn up little information in other databases.
See Full Text above for more information about getting the full text of articles you find in databases.
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.
- Stacks (Call # A-L Level 4; Call # P-Z Level 5) - LB2369 .G53 2009
- Desk Reference Level 3 - LB2369 .G53 2000
Online MLA Formatting and Style Guide from the OWL at Purdue
RefWorks is a database for research management, writing, and collaboration. Users can create a personalized profile to create, gather, manage, store, and share citations regardless of original format. Citation lists and bibliographies can be generated using many standard citation formats, including MLA.
A code is needed to access RefWorks from home—please ask at the Library Research Office (RO 307).
If you use Firefox, you may also want to check out Zotero, a citation manager that works directly from your browser.