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ENGL 432: Literature & Magic: Romance: Secondary Sources

Choosing the Best Finding Aids

Selecting the best or most appropriate finding aid for identifying sources depends almost entirely on the context of your research project. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options. 

Search Primo

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

Collins Library, like most academic libraries in the United States, uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the content of books. 

You only need to be an observant user of Primo -- not an expert in the use of subject headings -- to make them work for you. Availing yourself of frequently used subject headings will help you locate secondary sources easily. Use subject headings to search for resources related to a specific author or work, in addition to literary themes or movements, genres, and/or critical approaches.

Here are several examples of the various ways you can use LCSH to help pinpoint what you need:

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Tempest

Condé, Maryse -- Criticism and interpretation

Romances, English -- History and criticism

Literature, Medieval -- History and criticism

English literature -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism

English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism

Caribbean literature (French) -- History and criticism

African diaspora in literature

Magic in literature

Featured Books

Subject Databases

Key Resource

Need help navigating the MLA International Bibliography? View the following tutorials for in-depth explanations of MLAIB's search functionality:

 

Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases. 

E-Journal Collections

These e-journal collections provide access to many journals in the humanities, but they are more limited in coverage compared to subject databases. In most cases, it's better to search subject databases to identify articles, and then search the journal title in Primo to link to the materials in these e-journal collections.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. 

Google Scholar can also help you find articles which have cited an article that you have found. Frequent citation is often (but not always!) a marker for a particularly influential scholarly work.

Step 1: When looking at search results, check for the 'Cited by X' link underneath each result. That will tell you how many subsequent articles (that Google Scholar is aware of) have cited this particular article or book.

Step 2: Click that link, and you will be taken to a new set of results, all of which have cited the original article, which will still be listed at the top of the page. 

Reading Criticism

Texts that interpret literary works are usually persuasive texts. Literary critics may conduct a close reading of a work, critique a literary work from the stance of a particular literary theory, or debate the soundness of other critics' interpretations. 

During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:

  • Abstract (if available)
  • First paragraph (sometimes the second paragraph, too):  What is the writer’s central claim? What research question is the author asking?
  • Evidence:  What kind of evidence does the writer use to support their claim? What are their primary sources? Are there quotations from the text(s)? From other critics/scholars? From theorists?
  • Scholarly conversation:  What are the other scholarly works (secondary sources) the author uses? Does the author acknowledge counter-arguments? How does this interpretation connect to your own close reading of the text?
  • Conclusion (typically the last paragraph):  How does the author tie the evidence together to answer the research question? What is the significance of this research?

Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation. 

Tip: Read the article more than once!  It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.

Tipasa: Interlibrary Loan

Tipasa logo

If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option for getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.

Tipasa is linked to your library account so you'll need to log in to use it.

Once you are logged in, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form, like this:

Interlibrary Loan Link

Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived.

Need Help?

This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you. If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!

Katy Curtis, Humanities Librarian
email: kcurtis@pugetsound.edu
Schedule an appointment
tel: (253) 879-3672
office: Collins Library 140

If you can't find Katy, remember there are several ways to get help with your research

For immediate assistance, connect to our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat service.