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Literature & Writing Research Guide
To look for articles in journals, you will need to start with a research database. Check the Databases tab on the library home page and select the Literature subject limiter for the most appropriate available licensed resources. These provide full text or abstracts of articles from thousands of journals and other sources. You can also browse a list of individual electronic journals for literature.
Some databases such as MLA do not offer full text of the articles. Use the button to check our other resources for full text.
Not everything is available on the Internet, and as old-fashioned as it may seem, the best place to begin your research is in your library's collection -- Really! A lot of time and money is spent on collecting the best for your courses -- especially if you are feeling overwhelmed by the project. To search for books, you need to use a library catalog. Depending on how much time you have, you have a couple of options for extending your search.
Search our local collection of about 250,000 books. How to Search the Catalog
The simplest way to get started is by using the default KEYWORD search. Type in one or two words about your topic (examples are: magical realism, postcolonial, feminist literature) to begin your search.
Once you have a list of results (these are book and journal titles), click on likely titles to view the entire record.
For more precise searching, look at the SUBJECTS on items that meet your research needs and follow those links to find other works on your topic that don't necessarily use the same terminology that you did in the keyword search. An example is a broad keyword search on feminist authors, with a large number of items (145!) returned on all sorts of women writers. But then you find the subject heading Autobiography--Women Authors which is really more appropriate as you can narrow the paper to women writing about their own feminist views and by clicking on that subject heading, you have 46 titles to examine.
Other Options in Books
Circuit (1-3 day delivery)
Search the collections of other San Diego area libraries -- about 3,000,000 books. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 1-3 days.
WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)
Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Books will be delivered to Library for pickup.
Browse the Book Stacks
Sometimes, just looking through the shelves can turn up works you would not have considered otherwise. Using the Library of Congress subject system, Literature is shelved in the P call number area. The Wikipedia online encyclopedia provides a list of the subclasses in the P area so you can see how this is organized.
These are a special category and while included in the library catalog, may NOT have the level of detail in the catalog record to really help you in finding what you need. This is where talking to a librarian will help you a lot!
One example are the literature criticism series published by Gale. There are over 20 different sets, that have new volumes added to the shelf at various times and thousands of authors and titles. How do you know where to look and what is in each series that might be helpful to you? The library catalog cannot provide that level of detail, so use the online (and free) GALE LITERARY INDEX that allows you to search by name, work's title, or custom settings (nationality, birth year, etc.) The search results will list every Gale series that has your research topic. Then you just need to find what the location (call number) is for the sets owned by CSUSM and refer to the volume numbers you found in the index. A librarian knows about these tools and tricks and can help you find and use them!
An addition (summer 2010) to our database collection is Gale Literature Online that allows searching and full-text retrieval of a number of the Gale sets. This collection is not everything that CSUSM carries, but the most highly-used sets. Check our Databases for access to this resource.
Other quality resources on the web
- ACLA--General Research Listings (links to associations, full text sites and much more)
- BUBL Catalog of Internet Resources: Literature and Rhetoric
- Literary Resources on the Net (Rutgers University, categories include time periods, genres and ethnicity)
- Luminaria: Anthology of English Literature
- Voice of the Shuttle Literary Theory
- Voice of the Shuttle Literature (English)
- Voice of the Shuttle Literatures (Other than English)
- Yale English Language and Literature Selected Resources
- Directory Of Open Access Journals freely-available full text online journals
- EServer.org University of Washington-hosted site for contributions in a variety of disciplines
- NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship) offers a meta-search to both free and licensed content
- Perigee (founded by CSUSM LTWR graduate)
- Project Gutenberg full text literature
- Wright American Fiction 19th century American fiction collection based on Wright's Bibliography of American Fiction, 1851-1875. Caution! Not all text was proofread when scanned.
Tutorials and Tools
- Guide to Grammar & Writing (hosted by Capital Community College)
- Internet Detective (Learning how to evaluate Internet resource quality)
- OWL (Online Writing Lab) Purdue University's tutorial
- Style Book (Illinois Valley Community College)
- Bartleby.com provides free access to reference, verse, fiction and non-fiction works
- Elements of Style (Strunk, 1918, 1999 through Bartleby.com)
- Gale Literary Index a free-access index to the contents of the Gale Group Publishers collections of literary criticism and biographical information (Dictionary of Literary Criticism, Nineteenth Century Criticism and much more)
- Online Writery (University of Missouri-Columbia)
Citing Your Sources
As you write your papers in LTWR courses, you'll need to cite passages and ideas from the sources you've found. You may find the following sites useful to supplement Keys for Writers and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
- MLA Citation Guide
Examples of how to cite the most-used sources from CSUSM.
- Humanities: Documenting Sources
Diana Hacker's site demonstrating in-text and bibliographic formats.
- Online! Using MLA to Cite and Document Sources
From BedfordMartins publishing company, lots of examples on citing electronic resources and web pages.
Literary Market Place
Listings for publishers, agents, manufacturers and other businesses associated with publishing. Free users have access to partial content of the full resource found in Library Reference at PN161 .L5
Similar to LMP with more orientation to the writer, rather than publisher. Of special note are tips to novice and experienced professional writers and a glossary of terms used in the writing profession (See "encyclopedia" link.) (Full resource in Library Reference at PN161 .W83)
Organizations, Listervs and Blogs
- African Literature Association
- American Association for Higher Education
- American Communication Association
- ACLA--American Comparative Literature Association
- AWP: The Association of Writers & Writing Programs
- British Comparative Literature Association
- ChLA (Children's Literature Association)
- Modern Language Association
- Mythopoeic Society
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Endowment for the Arts
- Rhetoric Society of America
- Bookwire (not just listservs, but also mailing lists and other electronic communication venues)
- Literary Academic Discussion Groups