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EN 104 - Three Modern Novelists on America and Americans


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to "Three Modern Novelists on America and Americans" in the Geisel Library. It is meant as a starting point for your research. For further research assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the Geisel Library. Stop by the Reference Desk in person or online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide about evaluating your Web sources, our guide on Evaluating Websites. Please take advantage of these resources.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference books are shelved by Library of Congress call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. Online reference sources can be found in the library catalog, or listed on Reference E-Resources.

Oxford Reference Online — The Place to Start
Contains electronic versions of commonly used Oxford dictionaries, encyclopedias and subject reference works.

Literary Terminology

Dictionary of Literary Terms (Cuddon)
     Ref PN41 .C83

Dictionary of Literary Terms (Shaw)
     Ref PN44.5 .S46

Symbol, Myth, Allusion, and Literary Themes

Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs (2 volumes)
     Ref PN43 .D48

Allusions-Cultural, Literacy, Biblical and Historical
     Ref PN43 .A4

Background on Critical Theory

Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
     Ref PN41 .C83

Encyclopedia of the Novel (2 volumes)
     Ref PN41 .E487

Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms
     Ref PN41 .F6

Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory
     Ref PN44.5 .H37 1998

Biographical Sources, Literary Criticism & Bibliographies

Literature Resource Center
This database combines three literary databases for biographical information, bibliographic listings of authors' works, plot summaries, and literary criticism for 90,000 novelists, poets, essayists, journalists and other writers. This resource also provides the full text of articles from more than 100 literary journals and has links to author's official web sites. Literature Resource Center includes the following databases:

       Contemporary Authors
       A bio-bibliographical guide to over 120,000 current authors.

       Contemporary Literary Criticism Select
       Critical essays on contemporary authors.

       Dictionary of Literary Biography
       Bio-critical essays on 7,000 authors.

Encyclopaedia Britannica
Online version of the Britannica - excellent for author and subject background information and keywords.

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature (4 volumes)
     Ref PS21 .E537

American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies (13 volumes)
     Ref PS129 .A55

Oxford Companion to American Literature
     Ref PS21 .H3 (print version)

Twentieth-Century American Literature (8 volumes)
     Ref PS221.T843

Literature and Culture of the American South
     Ref PS261 .C555

American novelists since World War II
     Ref PS379.A554

Critical Survey of Long Fiction (7 volumes, Second Revised Edition)
     Ref PN3451 .C7
Introductory essays provide biographical information and critical commentary on fiction writers. Also contains general articles on the development of the novel as a literary form.

Critical Survey of Long Fiction (8 volumes)
     Ref PN3451 .C75
Provides critical analysis of the works of major English language novelists. Includes a brief biography and bibliography for each writer. The last volume contains essays on the history of the novel and different types of novels.


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Finding Books/Secondary Sources

Subject headings Suggestions to use in searching the Catalog:

  • National characteristics, American
  • Social change - United States - History - 20th century
  • Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969
  • Beat generation
  • Irving John, 1942 - Criticism and interpretation
  • McCarthy, Cormac, 1933 - Criticism and interpretation
  • American literature - 20th century - History and criticism
  • American literature - 20th century - Bio-bibliography
  • American Fiction - 20th Century - Criticism
  • American literature - 20th century - Dictionaries

Keyword Suggestions to use in searching the Catalog:

  • John Irving and criticism
  • southern and litera* and american

Use the *(asterisk) as a truncation symbol to retrieve variant forms of a word root. Use the Boolean OR to expand your search by including synonyms and related terms. When using two different Boolean commands in the same search statement ("and" and "or" in the preceding examples) you must include parentheses to indicate which command is to be performed first.

Some General Collection books found using Subject and Keyword searches in the catalog:
Jack Kerouac
     PS121.T8 No.507

John Irving
     PS121.T8 No.502

Cormac McCarthy
     PS121.T8 No. 679

Essays In Modern American Literature

American Writing Since 1945: A Critical Survey
     PS225 .K48

This is the Beat Generation
     PS226.B6 C36

American Novel in the Twentieth Century

Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac
     PS3521 .E735 Z54

John Irving: A Critical Companion
     PS3559 .R8

If you are unable to locate materials in the Geisel Library Catalog, search libraries worldwide using WorldCat.


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Find Journal Articles

Literature Resource Center
Find biographical information on authors, as well as bibliographies, plot summaries, and literary criticism of their works. This resource also provides the full text of articles from more than 100 literary journals.

MLA International Bibliography
Produced by the Modern Language Association of America, this electronic index consists of bibliographic records pertaining to literature, language, linguistics, and folklore. (1963–present)     Journal List (PDF/63KB)

Academic Search Premier
Gain access to full-text as well as indexing and abstracting for a wide range of journal titles covering business, social sciences, humanities, general science, and education.

Project MUSE
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics."     Journal List

America: History and Life
Provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. (1964 - present) Journal List (PDF/59KB)

Geisel Library subscribes to two JSTOR collections: Arts & Sciences I and II. These are large collections of the full text of back issues of major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including Annual Review of Sociology, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Philosophical Quarterly, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.  Journal list for:     Arts & Sciences I     Arts & Sciences II

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Provides indexing to the world's leading arts and humanities journals and selections from social science and science journals. Includes articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, and reviews. (1980 - present)

MasterFILE Premier
This is good database to search for background information, since it contains full-text access to nearly 2,000 general reference publications, including the World Almanac & Book of Facts, and full-text access to over 84,000 biographies, and 86,000 full-text primary source documents.

New York Times
You can get full-text access to every page of the New York Times, from 1851 to 2003. The searchable collection includes digital reproductions, so that even advertisements and political cartoons from every available issue may be viewed.


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Selected Websites

Wired for Books: Audio Interview with John Irving

Cormac McCarthy official website

Fantastic Fiction: Jack Kerouac

Decade - 80's


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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