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FREN 300: French Literary Studies: Getting Started

Featured Tertiary Source: Cambridge Histories

The Cambridge Histories series is an indispensable reference collection with over 300 titles spanning 15 subject areas, including literary studies. Each (often multi-volume) history provides a big-picture perspective of its subject, introduces readers to existing scholarship, and proposes new trends in the field. 

What about books?

Scholarly books can also be excellent sources for locating background information or placing your author or text in context with related issues. Search Collins Library Primo Search for titles.  A sampling of potentially relevant books is listed below.

Getting Started With Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and overviews are scholarly, tertiary works written by experts on a variety of topics. The articles are typically longer and more detailed than those found in general encyclopedias. The background information provides a good starting point as you begin the research process. These resources can help you with:

  • Understanding the scope of a topic
  • Suggesting ideas for narrowing a topic
  • Identifying key concepts, terms, dates and names
  • Listing subject areas related to a topic
  • Recommending sources for further exploration

In Collins Library, the print reference collection is located on the first floor, and most of the online reference collection is available in one of the databases listed below.  Use Collins Library Primo Search to identify subject encyclopedias in either format; or ask a librarian for recommendations.

Featured Subject Encyclopedias for Francophone Literature & Culture

Working with Subject Encyclopedias

How might the following subject encyclopedia articles be useful for helping you explore significant works and topics related to Francophone literature?  

Blair, Dorothy. "Africa." The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. Edited by Peter France. Oxford UP, 1995, pp. 9-12. 

Cazenave, Odile. "Women Writers in French-Speaking Africa.Encyclopedia of Africa. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Oxford UP, 2010. Oxford Reference.

Corcoran, Patrick. The Cambridge Introduction to Francophone Literature. Cambridge UP, 2007. (Start by scanning the table of content and the chapter on Sub-Saharan Africa; then, branch out)

Irele, Abiola. "Literature, French-Language, in Africa.Encyclopedia of Africa. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Oxford UP, 2010. Oxford Reference. 

Irele, Abiola., and Gikandi, Simon. The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. Cambridge UP, 2004. (Focus on the chapters about African literatures in French)

Taoua, Phyllis. "Literature, Black, in Cameroon." Encyclopedia of Africa. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Oxford UP, 2010. Oxford Reference

"Literatures in European Languages." New Encyclopedia of Africa. Edited by John Middleton and Joseph C. Miller. 2nd edition, vol. 3. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008, 381-405. Gale Virtual Reference Library. (Focus on the sections about Francophone literature)

Humanities Librarian

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Katy Curtis
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