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How to Use Reference Sources
When conducting literature research, references sources should play a similar role to the one they play in your everyday life. For instance, if you want to get a definition and/or an overview of something, you might go to Wikipedia or another similar online reference source. Having done that though, you wouldn't have done in-depth research. What you have done is given yourself a background and a context from which you could research further if you wish.
Similarly, use the reference sources below to give you an overview of the critical reception of authors, as well as their works. These sources will help give you background, context, and ideas that you can then use as a jumping-off point for your research. Some of them will even provide you with lists of relevant sources to explore.
**Note: Even though these are reference sources and are not a substitute for in-depth research, if you quote/summarize/paraphrase what you learn from these sources in your paper you must still cite them!
Online Reference Sources
Literature Criticism Online
Critical essays on authors and their works and on literary themes and movements. Each author entry, following an introduction and overview, is comprised of criticism reprinted from journal articles and book chapters. Entries are typically 60-100 or more pages in length, and the critical articles are ordered chronologically. This online access continues but does not replace the extensive print volumes held in Hamersly Library's Reference collection: Contemporary Literary Criticism
, Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism
, and Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
. Literary Index
serves as a finding tool for the essays held in those volumes.
A single search to find relatively short, accessible scholarly articles in reference sources across multiple disciplines.
Using Primo to Find Print Reference Sources
In order to find print reference sources (i.e. physical books on the 1st floor of Hamersly), you will need to search for them using Primo. To do this:
1. Go to the library homepage
2. Type your topic and/or the work title/author into the Primo search box in the middle of the page. Specify that you want to search physical materials only by selecting the Books+ option in the pull-down menu. Then hit enter or click 'Submit':
3. Now you have your initial set of results and will need to narrow them down using the limiters on the left of the page (for more on refining your results limiters, watch this video). Under "Refine My Results" scroll down to the "Physical Location" list and click "Reference." (Note: you might have to click the "More options" link to see the "Reference" option).
Below are some examples that are relevant to this class, but there are many more that you can find by searching using the above process!
Twentieth Century Literature by
Call Number: PN771 .G27 (REF 1st floor)
Publication Date: 1978-2009
Look up author's last name to find article excerpts and bibliographies you can use to find literary criticism on the work you are studying.
Dictionary of Literary Biography by
Call Number: PN451 .D5 (REF 1st floor)
Publication Date: 1980-2007
Over 400 volumes about authors, their social context, their work, and literary genres and movements. Look in the indexes to find your author or work, OR search Primo using the instructions above.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature by
Call Number: PS21 .E537 2004 (REF 1st floor)
Publication Date: 2004
Alphabetically arranged entries include discussions of individual authors, literary movements, institutions, notable texts, literary developments, themes, ethnic literatures, and topic essays.
A Glossary of Literary Terms by
Call Number: PN44.5 .A284 1993
Publication Date: 1993-01-02
The entries in this book are "succinct essays" rather than technical definitions. The author's goal is to define the terminology within a full context. In doing so, he often combines separate terms into a single entry--for example, "Neoclassic and Romantic." The arrangement makes it important to use the book's index first, since Romantic is not represented under the R's in the main part of the book.
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