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ENGL 2508: Oh No! Dystopias and Apocalypses

Research guide for students in Patricia Sullivan's Summer 2020 ENGL 2508 class.

Library Research

This guide was created to help you prepare for your short research assignment and as a general guide to resources related to dystopian and apocalyptic literature and concepts. 

In preparation for your short research assignment, you should have thought some about possible questions to start your research. You will also want to spend some time thinking about how you will conduct your research. 

  • Fine-tune your searches.
    Think broadly when brainstorming search terms. What synonyms or related terms could stand in for your key search terms?
    You can combine search terms using AND (dystopia AND "environmental disaster") and OR ("artificial intelligence" OR AI OR "machine intelligence"). 
    In many databases, the asterisk (*) is a truncation or "wildcard" symbol  that will match all possible endings for a word stem.  For example, sex* will match sexism, sexual, sexuality, sexualize, etc. 
    Most databases have filters or facets that allow you to narrow your results by subject, date range, etc. Limit your searches to help you find the sources you need. 

     
  • Think about where you might find the type of information you are seeking.
    Will you find the research you need in an e-book? A journal article? A magazine? A newspaper? An interview? Cast a wide net when looking for the types of resources that could help answer your research question or support an argument you are making. 

     
  • Know the difference between academic and non-academic sources, and when it's appropriate to use them.
    Most databases allow you to limit results to academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. Be mindful of your assignment and what you're being asked to provide. Need a refresher? Watch the short video Peer Review in 3 Minutes.

     
  • When you find a good source, use it to find other good sources. 
    Use the subject terms and keywords associated with an item to find other items on similar topics.Scholarly books and articles will have works cited, bibliographies, or footnotes you can mine for additional resources. 

Need help? Ask a librarian.  

Finding articles

Databases for Researching Literature  (See an A-Z list of all databases

MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) indexes the broadest range of resources about literature in all languages, as well as film, television, and popular culture, including over 4,000 journals as well as books and dissertations. For articles not available full-text in MLA, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries,” or look up the journal title in Virgo, the library catalog.

ProQuest One Literature  is for scholars who want to engage with an exhaustive and diverse set of scholarly resources around a given literary topic for research. It contains 3 million literature citations from thousands of journals, monographs, dissertations, and more than 500,000 primary works – including rare and obscure texts, multiple versions, and non-traditional sources like comics, theater performances, and author readings.

JSTOR includes older issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines including literature, from the start to 3-5 years ago.

Project Muse offers searchable full text of nearly 600 scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, mostly from North American university presses. Older volumes are often available from JSTOR.
 

Databases for searching general topics related to dystopias and apocalypse

Academic Search Complete is a large general database of articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers on many topics. Updated daily, it can be the best source for resources about very current topics.

CQ Researcher provides award winning in-depth coverage of the most important issues of the day. Our reports are written by experience journalists. footnoted and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos and short "sidebar" features round out the reports. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects most in demand by students.NOTE: This is a credible source but not a scholarly source. Good for an overview of current and/or controversial topics.

Finding books & articles using Virgo

Virgo, the UVA Library’s primary search tool, contains catalog records for books, print journals, DVDs, maps, and digitized materials, as well as links to online articles from our rich array of subscription journals. You can search catalog materials and articles together, or view those results separately, using the facets provided to limit your results by author, format, publication period, and more.  To find online content, use the Format limiters like Online and tabs for Books, Articles, etc. to narrow your results.

Example subject terms of possible interest: 

  • Apocalypse in literature 
  • Dystopias in literature
  • Dystopias - History
  • Apocalyptic films 
  • Apocalypse in motion pictures
  • End of the world in literature 
  • Artificial Intelligence - Social Aspects 
  • Biotechnology in Literature
  • Technology - Social Aspects 
  • Environmental protection in literature
  • International relations in literature 

Example E-Books of Interest