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ENLT 2547: Black Women Writers

Professor Lisa Woolfork · Fall 2016

General searching tips

  • Fine-tune your search terms.   Most databases have filters or facets that allow you to narrow your results by subject, date range, etc.  You can combine search terms using AND (race AND migration) and OR (black OR african american).  In many databases, the asterisk is a truncation or "wildcard" symbol that will match all possible endings for a word stem; i.e. migra* will match migrants, migration, migrated, etc.
  • 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 the same topic.  Scholarly books and articles will have bibliographies and footnotes that you can mine for additional resources.
  • 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 (aka scholarly or peer reviewed) sources. Be mindful of the assignment and what you're being asked to provide.
  • If you're not finding what you need, ask a librarian for help.  The library staff may be able to suggest additional sources that are directly related to your paper topic. 

Finding books & other library materials

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 Gwendolyn Brooks; and
  • Select Brooks, Gwendolyn 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 Special Collections from the Library facet to find rare and archival materials related to the author

Helpful reference books

Finding biographies

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

Finding book reviews

Newspapers and popular magazines are a great place to find reviews of contemporary fiction.  In addition to Literature Resource Center and Academic Search Complete (listed below), you can use LexisNexis or Factiva, our two large newspaper databases, to find recent reviews.

Finding peer-reviewed articles about contemporary black women writers