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ENGL 432: Eco-Modernism: Finding Secondary Sources

Start Your Research at the Library!

Use this guide to get started with your research for ENGL 432: Eco-Modernism

Your research assignment for ENGL 432 asks you to identify and engage with one or more secondary sources (not literary criticism) that are related to an environmental topic of your choosing and roughly contemporaneous (think 30 years or less) to your chosen literary text.

This page highlights several broad strategies you can try for identifying both important topics from other disciplines of interest to modernists and the secondary source(s) you will use in your analysis.  

  • Browse key journals of the time for works/scholarship related to environmental topics
  • Search a database that indexes back issues of journals, such as JSTOR or Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective
  • Browse the ISIS Cumulative Bibliography for work related to your environmental topic
  • Search the Times Digital Archive for hot topics of a particular moment and/or book reviews
  • Search Primo for print and ebooks related to your topic

Featured Journals


If you're not sure yet what you're interested in or you can't decide where to focus, you might want to just browse through journals of the time to see what catches your eye. 

Collins Library provides access to many journals from the modernist era and the Modernist Journals Project (linked below) can connect you to the full text of many others. Consider using a resource such as Literary Research and British Modernism to help you identify influential titles and then search for them using Primo's journal search.

Key Databases

JSTOR logo​JSTOR contains thousands of full-text articles from journals across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, and in particular is known for providing online access to extensive archives of back issues of journals. As such, it is particularly helpful for historical research.

Tips for using JSTOR: Use Advanced Search and limit features whenever possible. Subset limits, date limits*, subject searches, etc. -- are all useful time savers. Search tips for other databases also apply in JSTOR.

  • Start with a general search.
  • Avoid long phrases.
  • Use AND to find all the words (distinct concepts) on your topic.
  • Use OR to find any of the words (synonyms or related concepts) on your topic.
  • The symbol * is used as a right hand truncation character in most databases; it will find all forms of a word.
  • Use quotation marks '' '' to search for an entire phrase
  • Be flexible in your searching.


Additional Database:

Using the ISIS Cumulative Bibliography

The Isis Cumulative Bibliography is a predecessor to the History of Science, Technology & Medicine database. The volumes available for browsing here are categorized bibliographical entries that appeared in annual or semi-annual bibliographies that were published as part of the journal Isis between volume 1 (1913) and volume 66 (1975). Print editions of the ISIS Cumulative Bibliography are also available at Collins Library.

Isis is divided into several sections. People and institutions as subjects of study are simply arranged alphabetically by name, with citations listed beneath each entry. Subjects, periods, and civilizations are arranged in a subject classification. You'll need to think more broadly than when you search other databases.

Quick Tips:

  • Search for keywords using your browser’s find function (e.g., Ctrl + F)
  • The paragraph mark (¶) that begins each entry is an anchor for that entry. Pressing that link will move the entry to the top of the page and place a URL in the browser navigation bar corresponding to that specific location.

Digital Times

Collins Library provides access to the full archives of the Times of London, going back to 1785. Historical newspapers can be useful for identify important topics and events, locating book reviews, and more. 

Search Primo

General Primo Search Tips

  • Use the pull-down scoping options to search Collins, Summit and Articles OR Collins and Summit, OR just Collins.
  • Use quotes to search for "exact titles".
  • Use the filters on the right side to quickly narrow your search.
  • Sign in with your Puget Sound username and password to gain access to online resources and request items from other libraries.

Summit & ILL Borrowing

Summit Borrowing allows you to get books from the other libraries that belong to the same consortium of academic libraries in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of just one library, it's like you've got 39! Books take 3-5 working days to arrive, at which point they will be held for you at the circulation desk for one week, where you can pick them up with your ID card. You may keep Summit books for 6 weeks; there are no renewals. You can see your Summit requests by clicking the 'My Account' link when logged in to Primo. 

Interlibrary Loan is good for both books and articles, and allows you to borrow materials from anywhere in the world! Most articles arrive within 3-4 days, while books can take up to two weeks. Look for the "request item from interlibrary loan" button or "Interlibrary Loan" link in Primo.

Humanities Librarian

Katy Curtis's picture
Katy Curtis
Office: Collins Library 140

Related Guides

Additional Resources

Best Practices for Identifying Secondary Sources

1. Mine the bibliographies and footnotes in other secondary sources. You may find one secondary source that is not quite right for your project; however, it may cite another scholarly source that would be just right!

  • Look up specific titles of books in Primo, or journal titles (not article titles) in Primo Journal Search.
  • Use the vocabulary in the sources you find as search terms in databases.

2. When searching Primo or a database, pay attention to the subject headings in your results. You can use the vocabulary or click to do a new search for that heading.  You'll be surprised at what you discover this way! 

3. Select the best sources, not just the most convenient sources.  This may mean requesting a book from SUMMIT and/or an article from ILLiad, both of which take about two to five days to arrive.