ENG 235 - Study of Poetry
This guide will help you find resources for your assignment on writing a research essay on a poet. Below you will find links to different resources for this assignment, as well as tips on how to search. If you need any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact Amy Gratz (email), the librarian who taught your class. Also, you can always contact Amy Tureen (contact info at right), the English Subject Librarian.
Literature Online Reference Edition (Chadwyck-Healey) — A collection of literary reference and criticism resources, including biographies, author bibliographies, Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL), essays from New Essays on the American Novel, and full-text articles from 100+ literature journals. This is a great place to get started, because you can search within criticism on the author. Click the Criticism link on the left of the page to search, and be sure to enter in your poet as a subject, not as the author! See the image below for some further tips.
Literary Reference Center (EBSCO) — Includes more than 10,000 plot summaries, synopses and work overviews; articles of literary criticism; author biographies; full text of over 300 literary journals; book reviews; 25,000 classic and contemporary poems; 11,000 classic and contemporary short stories; full text of over 7,500 classic novels; author interviews; and over 1,000 images of key literary figures. This is another good place to search for this assignment. Be sure to limit to scholarly journals and "literary criticism" when you begin your search (see image below).
MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO) — Index of literature, languages, linguistics, literary theory and criticism, dramatic arts, and folklore from over 4,400 journals and serials, as well as books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations, and bibliographies. Most of the sources in this database are not full-text, but it is another good source if you're having a hard time locating sources in the previous two databases.
JSTOR — An online archive containing back issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines. JSTOR is great for historical content, and has a lot of literary sources, so be very careful with your search! JSTOR will work best if you have a good, focused topic, and construct a careful search. (Click here for the guide on search strategies if you need a reminder.)
Search the catalog to locate books on your poet. Keep in mind that you don't need to read the entire book - you can choose a single chapter or essay! Search for your poet by name as a subject, and add the work criticism as a subject for a fairly basic search (see image below). Experiment with adding different keywords when you have a more narrow focus in mind.
Remember that once you've found a book in the catalog, you need to check which library it is located at, as well as where in the library it is. Don't forget how to locate books by call number in the LC system, but if you have any trouble, you can always ask for help at the reference or circulation desk.
We have a wide variety of reference materials on poetry, which are good general resources if you're not quite sure where to get started or if you need definitions of unfamiliar terms. Browse the reference section around PN 1- 6790 to find some useful books.
In class I showed you some reference series that will allow you to look up criticism by poet, and include excerpts of some commentaries and criticisms: Contemporary Literary Criticism (PN771 .C59, 217 volumes) and Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism (PN761 .N5, 165 volumes). We also have sets for 1400-1800 and Twentieth-century Literary Criticism, as well as themed series like Black Literature Criticism. Search by poet's name in the index of any of these to locate a biography of the poet as well as selected commentaries and criticisms. This is a great place to get started with a project like this, and these sources will provide you with a list of citations for sources that you can locate to use for your paper.
Other Useful Resources and Tips:
Advanced Search Techniques - check out this guide for tips to help you construct a good "search string" - the combination of search commands and keywords you enter into a database.
InterLibrary Loan - you have plenty of time before your assignment is due to use materials from other libraries - as long as you get started soon! If you don't find the full-text of a source in one of our databases or our catalog, fill out the request form - remember, this is totally free for you!
MLA Style Guide from the OWL at Purdue - make sure you cite your sources correctly! Once you've created your citation list, you can also bring it by the reference desk or email it to either Amy Tureen or Amy Gratz - we're happy to look it over and help you get it right!
Ask Jack! - librarians are researchers - and we enjoy it! If you're having a hard time, take advantage of our experience and ask us for help!