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ENLT 2513: Major Authors of American Lit

Katelyn Durkin · Fall 2015

Using the library catalog

VIRGO, the U.Va. 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.  

Sample searches:

  • Choose "Catalog only" search
  • Search for Toni Morrison; and
  • Select Morrison, Toni from the Author facet to find books written BY the author; OR
  • Select Criticism and Interpretation from the Subject facet to find books written ABOUT the author; OR
  • Select Ebook from the Format facet to limit to books are available online; OR
  • Select Last 10 years from the Publication Era facet to find recent materials

Finding scholarly journal articles and book chapters

The MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) indexes the broadest range of resources about literature in all languages, including over 4,000 journals as well as books and dissertations.  It is not a full-text resource, meaning that you can only search the description of an article, rather than the text of the article.  To get the full text of an article, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries”, or look up the journal title in VIRGO.

JSTOR contains back issues (usually 3-5 years old or older) of significant scholarly journals in many subjects, including language and literature.  JSTOR is not as comprehensive as MLAIB, but the full-text search will do a better job of picking up matches for specific themes or subjects.  Articles are immediately available as PDFs.

Project Muse provides full-text searching of recent articles from major scholarly journals, including roughly 120 journals about literature.  Like JSTOR, Project Muse is not as comprehensive as the MLAIB, but offers the advantages of full-text searching and instant access to PDFs.

Google Book Search searches the content of the books Google has scanned from libraries and publishers. It's a great tool for zeroing in on the relevant portions of book-length works of literary criticism. Choose "About this book" for abstract, table of contents, and books and articles related to the book. 

Finding biographical information about an author

Literature Resource Center (LRC) includes full text articles from the Dictionary of Literary Biography and Contemporary Authors – terrific sources for author biographies.

Researching historical context

U.S History in Context is a collection of articles from over 200 journals and several hundred historical encyclopedias covering the social and political history of the U.S. Some primary source material also included. An excellent resource for getting an overview of a topic or issue.

America: History & Life covers the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to present with records from 2,000 English-language journals published worldwide. Includes book reviews.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers provides full text articles from major US newspapers, including the New York Times (1851-2004) and Washington Post (1877-1991), as well as African-American newspapers such as the Chicago Defender (1910-1975) and the New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993).  

Citing your sources

The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing provides detailed instructions for using the MLA style and citation format. Available in print only.

Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style Guide provides basic information on using MLA style in research papers, including examples of in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Refworks is a web-based tool that lets you collect citations in electronic folders and then use them to generate annotations and bibliographies in the citation style of your choice. The RefWorks website provides resources for learning how to use RefWorks and Write N Cite, a plug-in that lets you format citations within Microsoft Word.