English 724 Course Guide
Bibliographer for English
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- English Literature Subject Guides
- English Literature Research Guide
- A guide to resources available for research in literature generally, covering serveral types of resources students often overlook.
MLA International Bibliography
For literary research in general, it is advisable to start your research here. MLA is the most scholarly and comprehensive database for articles and books on the modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics, and features a specialized search interface that allows you to search for articles on a particular work or author.
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 food OR hung* 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 food, hunger or both. The asterisk in the second term (hung*) 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 “hunger” and articles containing the word “hungry”, since both begin with “hung*”. See this explanation for more information on searching.
MLA also specifically indexes terms having to do with types of criticism, which it calls “approaches.” Do note, however, that not all articles are so indexed, and related terms aren't always included, so you may need to use ORs do more than one search to get all the articles you want. For instance, a search for feminist approach brings up different results from femininity OR gender, and psychoanalytic approach and archetypal approach are completely different.
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.
The library offers two large, full-text databases that you are particularly likely to find useful, JSTOR and Project MUSE. Each of these covers a wide variety of fields, so they are good databases to search for cultural and historical information as well as literary.
- Full text searching in the archives of thousands of journals from across the disciplines. There is significant overlap with MLA, but you are likely to find different articles because of the different search capabilities. Because you are searching the full text of an article instead of an indexed record, you will likely need to use more search terms than in MLA in order to eliminate some of your irrelevant results. There is no indexing in JSTOR, so you will need to think about various ways that an idea can be expressed. You may also wish to select the relevant disciplines from the list in the Advanced Search screen. Your search terms will be highlighted in the documents you find, and there is a link at the top of each article reading View list of pages with search terms, which will let you see where they appear.
JSTOR has an option to limit your search by document type, to articles, reviews and so forth.
- Project MUSE
- Project MUSE is a smaller database than JSTOR, but it has less overlap with MLA, and it provides subject indexing. You can search the full text, or only part of the record, or everything except the full text, by using the drop-down menu next to the search box. You can also browse by subject heading by choosing Browse Subject Headings for Articles on the left of the start screen. Subject headings can refer to specific authors and works (for instance, Brontë, Charlotte, 1816–1855. Jane Eyre.), so that you can browse everything on that work. There are also subject headings referring to other topics of interest, for instance, corsets. The official guide to searching Project MUSE offers several more helpful tips.
- Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, or ABELL (print only).
- ABELL is widely considered one of the most important tools in English language and literature, with little overlap with MLA. A new print volume is published each year. Each volume includes a section on the English language, a section on traditional culture, and a section on English literature. The latter is divided into various time periods, so it is easy to browse the articles on the nineteenth century published any given year. In the back of the book, there is also an index of (literary) authors and one of scholars.
ABELL can be found on Level 3, Table 19.
- Literature Resource Center
- This is something of a catchall database for literature resources. It is an excellent way to access biographies of authors and multimedia and web sources. It offers a little criticism, but is generally not the best place to go for that. However, it does offer some criticism from older time periods and can be valuable for that reason.
- Humanities Full Text
- Citations to articles in general and specialized journals from across the humanities. Includes less material than MLA or JSTOR, but more items that are not found in MLA. It is particularly useful for book reviews.
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 Eliot, George will bring you a list of subheadings describing our books on George Eliot. A particularly useful subheading, and one you will often see, is Criticism and Interpretation.
Because you are dealing with a fairly specific topic, you may not find a book on your topic. However, it may be worthwhile to check the index of promising books on broader topics, in case they include a chapter of interest.
You can also do keyword searches for literary themes, some of which are grouped together in their own subject headings, such as: Human body in literature, Literature and medicine or People with disabilities in literature. Once you find an appropriate subject heading, you can search for it using Subject begins with… from the main search page.
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 by nineteenth-century British authors can be found between PR 4001 and PR 6000. Within that range, books are arranged 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 Brontë will be earlier in that range than works by and about Yonge.
Books on nineteenth century British literature, but not focused on a particular author, can be found between PR 451 and PR 469. Books on Victorian novels specifically are between PR 860 and PR 880.
Victorian history can be found between DA 550 and DA 565. Books on a wide variety of subject may be useful for you, but they will be scattered throughout the library.
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.
In MLA and some other databases, click Find It for journal articles. This will take you straight to electronic or direct you to print.
Find It doesn't always work with book articles and some databases don't support it, so you have to check the CUNY Catalog in those cases.
If we don't have an item, you can use interlibrary loan (ILL).
If it's a book and CUNY holds a copy, use Request Title from that record instead.
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.