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Literature Resource Research Guide

This resource guide will help you to start your research on literary authors and works of literature.

Reference Books - Searching the Library Catalog - Searching Electronic Resources - Searching the Internet - Web Evaluation - Citing Your Sources

Reference Books

The following reference books will provide you with literary terminology and critical information about authors and their works. Literary sources range from simple explanations of plots to detailed, philosophical, and profound essays on individual stories, poems, literary themes, or authors.

Terms and Concepts

  • Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms: With Strategies for Writing Essays About Literature - REF PN44.5.B332 1997
  • Longman Dictionary of Literary Terms: Vocabulary for the Informed Reader - REF PN44.5.K46 2006
  • Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices - REF PN1021.P3 1989

General Reference Resources

  • Encyclopedia of Literary Critics and Criticism - REF PN75.E53 E53
  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature - REF PS21.E537
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature - REF PS153.M56 G74

Author Information

  • Contemporary Authors – Autobiography Series - REF PN453.C63
  • Contemporary Authors – New Revision Series - REF Z1224.C63x
  • Notable American Novelists - REF PS371.N68
  • Short Story Writers - REF PN3373.S398

Criticism & Summaries

  • Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism (NCLC) - REF PN761.N56
  • Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (TCLC) - REF PN771.G27
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC) - REF PN771.C59
  • Masterplots, Revised Second Edition - REF PN44.M33
  • Literature of Developing Nations for Students - REF PN3326.L58
  • Novels for Students - REF PN3385.N68
  • Short Story Criticism - REF PN3373.S56
  • Short Stories for Students - REF PN3373.S3844
  • Poetry Criticism (PC) - REF PN1010.P6
  • Poetry for Students - REF PN1101.P756
  • Drama for Students - REF PN1601.D595

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Searching the Library Catalog

To find a book, search the library's online catalog. You can use this to search for resources on the specific author or literary work you are studying. Here are some tips and strategies to improve your search results:

  • Conduct a subject search using the author’s name (enter last name first)
  • Search for critical essays on a literary work by conducting a keyword search with the title in quotation marks.

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Searching Electronic Resources for Articles

The OCC Library has many databases that contain a wide variety of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles, as well as ebooks, multimedia and more. It's important to select the correct database. A librarian can assist you with this task. Use the following databases to search for articles on the specific author or literary work you are studying. You can find all of the databases that are available on the library's Periodicals and Electronic Resources page. If you are off campus, you will need to log on with your student ID and last name.

  • Literature Resource Center - Access biographies, bibliographies, and critical analyses of authors from every age and literary discipline. You may search by Person, Title of Work, or keywords.
  • JSTOR - JSTOR contains journal articles in various academic disciplines. Not all content is available full-text so it is recommended to choose the option of searching only content you have access to. 
  • Gale Literary Databases - This database contains Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, and Dictionary of Literary Biography. Contemporary Authors provides complete biographical and bibliographical information and references on more than 120,000 U.S. and international authors. Contemporary Literary Criticism Select is an extensive collection of critical essays on contemporary authors, containing a biographical/critical introduction, listing of principal works, and sources for further study. Dictionary of Literary Biography provides nearly 10,000 biographical and critical essays on the lives, works, and careers of the world's most influential literary figures from all eras and genres.

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Searching the Internet for Web Sites

  • IPL2 - This site was developed by librarians as a reliable and efficient guide to Internet resources. This site is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 14,000 Internet resources that have been selected and evaluated by librarians.
  • DMOZ Open Directory Project – This human-edited directory of the Web breaks the topics into sub-topics and also provides “see also” references.
  • Google Advanced Search - Instead of using Google's default search, try the advanced search. There are a lot of tools that will give you better results, such as a box that lets you limit your results to a domain such as .edu or .gov.

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Web Evaluation

Evaluating Web Sites - A quick and useful guide to help you evaluate the Web pages you find for purpose, authority, objectivity, relevance, currency, and responsibility.

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Citing Your Sources

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(jk 4/07, updated lc 05/12)​​