ENGL 310 - Introduction to Literary Studies

This guide provides information about literary resources to aid students enrolled in ENGL 310 locate relevant research materials

Library Research Guide

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

This page provides guidance when searching for journal articles and book chapters about literary criticism. 
Keywords and search terms will form the backbone of your search process. 
Take advantage of the special search options in our literary databases.

Journal articles and book chapters:

  • often provide close analysis on topics like a particular character, theme, or theory from a work or by an author
  • range from roughly 5 to 50 pages in length

Book chapters:

  • are sometimes cited in databases like Literature Resource Center, MLA, and Search It
  • can be discovered by looking for books about a work, author, or genre; finding the book on the shelf; and looking at the table of contents


Most of our databases will have the full text of many of the articles and some of the chapters. When the full text isn't available, look for the Get-It button to see if we have access to the article or chapter through another database or in print on the shelf. If we don't you may request a copy of the article or chapter from another library through Interlibrary Loan.

How to Search for Journal Articles: Search Terms

Due to the number of articles and chapters published, you can be very specific in your search terms.
Searching only for the author or the title of a work will return an overwhelming list of results. 

Search by:

  • Name of a work: The woman warrior: memoirs of girlhood among ghosts
  • Author’s name: Kingston, Maxine Hong
  • Theme: ghosts
  • Critical perspective or theory: feminism
  • Genre: autobiography

Use combinations of keywords like the above to create a focused search.

If your search does not return a lot of results, look for synonyms or umbrella terms. For instance:

Maxine Hong Kingston:

  • Asian American
  • Chinese American 
  • women writers
  • women authors


Databases With Literacy Criticism

We subscribe to many databases for researchers in literature. The databases below are good starting points.
MLA International Bibliography is usually the first stop for literary researchers.
No one database covers every journal, so search in multiple databases.

MLA International Bibliography: Search Tips

Below are two ways to search to increase the relevancy of your search results in MLA: use options on the Advanced Search screen and expand your search terms using the Thesaurus. 

Advanced Search

Advanced in this case means special search features for literary researchers, not that you have to be a literature expert. Advanced search features include searching by:

  • Genre
  • Primary Subject Author (that is - the author of a work, like Colette, is the subject of the article)
  • Location
  • Time Period

Below is a screen shot of the Advanced Search screen, including the search options that appear when you click on the Select a Field option in the search boxes.

Screenshot of MLA Advanced Search screen with options to refine search

Use the Thesaurus to identify terms commonly used by literary researchers.

The Thesaurus:

  • appears as an option on the Advanced Search screen
  • identifies alternative search terms, including broader, narrower, and related terms 

Not all keywords will appear in the Thesaurus; not all terms in the Thesaurus will have alternative terms.

A sample Thesaurus search:

  1. Link to the Thesaurus from the Advanced Search page.
  2. Enter your keyword in the search term box. The image below shows a search for the keyword middle.
    • All the subject terms that appear contain the word middle. 
    • Switch to subject terms that begin with middle by clicking the Begins with option under the search term box.
  3. Click on a subject term to open a new window.

Screenshot of MLA International Bibliography Advanced Search opening Thesaurus

Below is a screenshot of the Thesaurus screen that appears for the term African American middle class. Note that the Thesaurus offers two Broader Terms and one Narrower Term:

  1. Click the box to the left of any of the subject terms that you want to include in your search.
  2. Once you have selected all of the terms to include, click on the Add to search button at the bottom of the box, then Close.
  3. You will be returned to the Advanced Search screen with the new subject terms added.

Screenshot MLA International Bibliography Thesaurus box with related terms