ENG 226: Creating America in Literature

by gratz_ae — last modified 2016-09-29T11:37:03-04:00

This guide will help you find resources for your author case study. 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.

MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO) (Recommended for O'Brien) — 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.

Literature Online Reference Edition (Chadwyck-Healey) (Recommended for Boyle, Dietz, and O'Brien) — 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.

Literary Reference Center (EBSCO) (Recommended for Dietz and O'Brien)— 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.

JSTOR (Recommended for O'Brien) — An online archive containing back issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines.

Humanities Abstracts (EBSCO) (Recommended for Boyle and Dietz) — Provides abstracts and citations from the scholarly sources and specialized magazines in the humanities. The database includes feature articles, interviews, obituaries, bibliographies, book reviews, and original works of fiction, drama, and poetry as well as reviews of ballets, dance programs, motion pictures, musicals, operas, plays, radio and television programs, and more.

ProQuest Newspapers (Recommended for Dietz, will also include Boyle and O'Brien) — Provides full-text access to five major national newspapers. Coverage includes full-text articles but not advertisements, illustrations, or photographs. Note that this is not a resource for scholarly material, but will contain book and play reviews from papers like the New York Times.

Research Library (ProQuest) (Recommended for Dietz, will also include Boyle and O'Brien)— Provides abstracts and indexing for over 2,600, as well as full text for over 1,700 scholarly journals and general magazines. Research Library is an expansion of, and replacement for, the database titled Periodical Abstracts Research II.

Contemporary Literary Criticism - call number REF. PN771 .C59, 217 volumes. For authors publishing since 1950, this resource presents a short biography and summary of critical reception, but the main focus is on critical works, several of which will be excerpted in each author's chapter, in addition to a list of citations to other criticisms. This is an ideal place to get started. For Boyle, check out volume 90, and for O'Brien, volume 212. Dietz is not covered in this work, but you can try volume 41 on Ionesco.

Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism - call number REF. PN81 .J554 2005. "The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism has become the indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. It includes more than 240 alphabetically arranged entries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods."

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature - call number REF. PS21 .E537 2003, 4 volumes. "The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature gathers together 350 essays from more than 190 leading scholars on the whole of American literature, from European discovery to the present. At the core of the Encyclopedia lie essays on poets, playwrights, essayists, and novelists. The Encyclopedia also contains essays on literary movements,periods, and themes, pulling together a broad range of information and making connections between them."

The Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory - call number REF. PN94 .C695 2002. "The Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory offers the student and scholar of literary and cultural studies the most comprehensive, single volume guide to the history and development of modern criticism in the humanities."

A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory - call number REF. PN41 .C83 1991. "The new edition has been expanded to encompass literary theory and critical movements, and many of the 2,000 terms originally defined have completely revised entries. The definitions range in length from one sentence to several pages and are thoroughly cross-referenced." Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Books on Tim O'Brien:
Conversations with Tim O'Brien - on Course Reserve at the Circulation Desk. "In addition to detailed discussions of all of O'Brien's work--a memoir, If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973), and seven books of fiction--the sixteen interviews and profiles in Conversations with Tim O'Brien explore common themes, with subtle differences. Looming large is the experience of Vietnam and its influence as well as O'Brien's youth in Minnesota and the expectations of a Midwestern upbringing. Interviews allowed the writer to fully examine the shifting boundaries of truth and identity, memory, and imagination in fiction, the role of war in society; gender issues; and the craft of writing. O'Brien approaches each of these topics and a host of others with a directness and an evident passion that will resonate with both readers and prospective writers." Literary Conversations Series, via Amazon.

Approaches to Teaching the Works of  Tim O'Brien - on Course Reserve at the Circulation Desk. "This volume in the Approaches to Teaching series considers the range and depth of O'Brien's writing, with an emphasis on works that focus on the Vietnam War. Part 1, "Materials," provides information on O'Brien's life and an overview of his literary output. It also directs readers to critical and reference works on subjects encountered in his writing. The twenty-three essays in part 2, "Approaches," provide historical background on the Vietnam War; explore narrative issues in O'Brien's works, such as the melding of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir; and suggest ideas for teaching the author's works in a variety of classroom and conceptual settings (e.g., composition, American literature, war fiction, narrative theory, postmodernism)."

A Trauma Artist: Tim O'Brien and the fiction of Vietnam - available as an ebook through eBrary (click link to access). "A Trauma Artist examines how O'Brien's works variously rewrite his own traumatization during the war in Vietnam as a never-ending fiction that paradoxically "recovers" personal experience by both recapturing and (re)disguising it."

Writing Vietnam, Writing Life: Caputo, Heinemann, O'Brien, Butler - available as an ebook through eBrary (click link to access). "Phillip Caputo, Larry Heinemann, Tim O'Brien, and Robert Olen Butler: four young midwestern Americans coming of age during the 1960s who faced a difficult personal decision-whether or not to fight in Vietnam. Each chose to participate. After coming home, these four veterans became prizewinning authors telling the war stories and life stories of soldiers and civilians. For each author, the conversation and richly annotated chronology provide an overview of the writer's life, the intersection of memory and imagination in his writing, and the path of his literary career."

Books on T. Coraghessan Boyle:
Understanding T. C. Boyle by Gleason - on course reserve at the circulation desk. "Gleason (English, Cardinal Stritch U.) introduces readers to Boyle's (b. 1948) short stories, and then to his novels decade by decade from the 1980s to the 2000s. He says the novelist, having studied history, argues that fiction writers should contextualize their characters in specific eras of American history and use satire as a moral force to improve society. He also shows how he thinks of fiction writers as performers and entertainers who need to interact regularly with their audience in public." Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

The most important point: Get started early! Some of you have a lot of potential sources, and it will take time to find the best resources to use. Others don't have many sources to choose from, but starting early will give you time to request articles from other libraries if needed.

Think about your topic. You know which author you're writing on, but think about possible literary approaches or topics you might like to use in your paper. Make sure you find sources that you could use to make your case.

Construct a careful search. As we discussed and practiced in class, the databases and library catalog have specific ways of understanding searches. Think carefully about how you enter your search terms so you don't miss anything. If you need a reminder, there's a tutorial on the search strategies we discussed.

Don't be afraid to use books - even reference books! Many students think they can find all the information they need online, or in databases. The library still purchases books for a reason - not everything is available digitally! Check out the books Dr. Morgan put on reserve and the reference materials we used in class. These are great starting points, and sources you can use in your final paper. And remember - you don't have to use the whole thing!

Remember to use Interlibrary Loan. If you get started now, you will have time to request articles via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Articles usually come within a week as a PDF emailed to you.

Ask for help if you need it! Librarians are always happy to help with research questions. Stop by the Ask Jack desk and talk to the librarian on duty, chat online through the library homepage, or email library_reference@mercer.edu. You can also contact Amy Gratz or Amy Tureen directly (see top of page).