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EN 104 - Contemporary Irish Literature


The following is a guide to secondary sources in Geisel Library that pertain to the assigned literature as well as to sample themes that are embraced in the writings. All of these resources can be accessed either on campus or remotely by entering in the S number on the back of your student ID.

This guide will point you to some useful reference books and library databases. It will also serve as a 'reality check', reminding you of the search tips you picked up during the library segment of your EN 103 class last term, providing helpful examples. You will be introduced to special tools and library services that will make the process of searching and locating relevant materials a bit easier.

For further assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk in person or pose your question online.


Selected Reference Books

Reference books are shelved by call number in a separate area near the Reference Desk on the main level of the library. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level. Here's why you should consult reference books:

  • They will assist you in the topic selection process by providing ideas and insights. Many of them are arranged so that larger topics are broken down into sub-sections, allowing you to evaluate where a topic fits within its broader context and helping you to decide whether a topic is too broad or narrow.
  • In the field of literature, they will supply literary analysis of the authors, titles, and sometimes the genre under discussion in your class.
  • Reference books will also help you to locate background information about structure and themes pertaining to your primary source readings.
  • Reference books will familiarize you with vocabulary that might be unique to your topic of study, making searching of the databases easier later.
  • They will point you to additional sources for more detailed scholarly information through bibliographies and lists of 'Further Readings'. If a citation found this way is of interest, determine its 'whereabouts' by using the Journal Finder tool available on the library's home page.

The library also has a growing collection of E-Reference resources. One of these is the Literature Resource Center (LRC); it is helpful for literary criticism and is included in the selected list below. Others such as the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature will assist you in finding background information on Irish history. Here are some especially good reference book titles to get you started:

Anglo-Irish Literature: A Review of Research   Ref PR8712 .A5

Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture   Ref DA925 .B47

British and Irish Literature and its Times   Ref PR25 .M671 2001

British and Irish Poets: a Biographical Dictionary

Cambridge History of Irish Literature   PB 1306 .C36 2006 (2 vols)
This title is in the General Collection rather than the Reference Collection.
See volume 2 for contemporary history.


Find the country review for Ireland.  Sections are kept quite current.  Excellent tool for topic selection ideas.

Credo Reference
Try searching for 'ireland' or 'irish' and limit your search to words in headings.

Dictionary of Irish History since 1800   Ref DA949.7 .H53 1980

Ireland and the Americas:  Culture, Politics, and History

Literature Resource Center (LRC)
The Literature Resource Center provides selected online content to literary criticism from several multi-volume print titles available in the reference area of the Geisel Library, such as Contemporary Literary Criticism, Contemporary Authors, and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. These reference resources provide extensive author biographies and bibliographies of further reading.    User Guide

Please note:  for an author-title index to the complete content of the 'Literary Criticism' series, please use the Gale Literary Index.

Modern Irish Writers: a Bio-Critical Sourcebook

Northern Ireland: a Chronology of the Troubles   Ref DA990 .U46 B3593 1999

Oxford Companion to Irish History   Ref DA912 .O94 1998 (Print version)

Oxford Companion to Irish Literature   Ref PR8706 .O88 1996

Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature
This online resource provides comprehensive coverage of the entire history of literature in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It includes detailed histories of particular themes, movements, genres, and institutions, whose impact upon the writing or the reading of literature was significant.

Poets of Ireland: a Biographical and Bibliographical Dictionary   Ref PR8727 .O36

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism   Ref PN94 .T82
Please note: see volume 102 pages 125-321 for an excellent article on "Modern Irish Literature"


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Find Books and Book Chapters

Geisel Library Catalog
Some of the best information may be found in books and book chapters-and the Geisel Library's collections are substantial. Begin by performing keyword searches. Remember to use your Boolean operators, as discussed in EN 103, where appropriate. When you find a promising result, view its detailed record for relevant subject heading links. Here are some keyword search examples:

  • celtic tiger
  • diaspora and (ireland or irish)
  • (immigration or emigration) and ireland
  • ireland* and european union
  • population and ireland
  • sexual abuse and catholic* and Ireland

Subject searches are effective for finding books about authors and their works. Subject searches are also effective for finding books about broad concepts like Irish literature or economic conditions in Ireland. Here are some sample subject headings, but there are many more:

  • Aran Islands
  • English drama - Irish authors
  • Ireland - Civilization - 20th century
  • Ireland - Economic conditions - 1949-
  • Ireland - Intellectual life - 20th Century
  • Ireland - Politics and government 1949-
  • Ireland - Social conditions - 1973-
  • Ireland - in literature
  • Irish literature - 20th century
  • Irish travelers - Nomadic people
  • Mythology, Celtic, in literature
  • National characteristics, Irish, in literature
  • O'Brien, Edna - Criticism and interpretation

If you are unable to locate enough materials in the Geisel Library catalog, repeat your search by using the collections of libraries worldwide through WorldCat. This expansive database enables you to identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use, via our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service. Try searching on the same keywords and subject headings that you used in the Library Catalog as noted above. If you find a relevant book, click on the title and look for the 'Request ILL' link. Once you submit the request, the book is typically delivered to Geisel Library within 7–8 days.

Use ebary to search through over 40,000 e-books spanning across all scholarly disciplines. Books can either be opened in QuickView for instant viewing or in the ebrary Reader (a downloadable plug-in), which provides enhanced functionality such as the ability to copy/paste, highlight, or take notes.

Here next  are some sample book titles retrieved either from the Library Catalog, WorldCat or Ebrary when using keywords and subject headings as noted above.  Please note:  There are many other relevant titles. This is just a selected list.

  • Anglo-Irish:  The Literary Imagination in a Hyphenated Culture
    PR 8752 .M69
  • Contemporary Irish Drama and Cultural Identity
  • End of Irish History?  Critical reflections on the Celtic Tiger
    DA959.1 .E534 2003
  • From the Ward to the White House:  The Irish in American Politics
    E184.I6 R44 1991
  • Inventing Ireland
    PR 8753 .K53
  • Ireland and the Irish:  Portrait of a Changing Society
    HN400.3.A8 A73 1995
  • Irish Diaspora in America
    E184 .I6M115
  • Modern Ireland 1600-1972
  • Modern Irish Literature:  Sources and Founders
    PR8753 .M47
  • Modern Irish Writers: Cross Currents of Criticism
    PR8753 .T3
  • New Directions in Irish American History
    E184 .I6N475
  •  New Dubliners: Urbanization and the Irish Family
  • New York Irish
    F128.9 .I6N49 1996
  • Northern Ireland Politics
    DA990 .U46N67 1996
  • Whoredom in Kimmage:  Irish Women Coming of Age
    HQ1600.3 .M32 1993

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Find Journal Articles

Before you begin your search for articles in online journal databases there are three helpful library tools for which you need to be aware.

When examining your search results,  you may come across the WebBridge icon. This icon means that the full text is not available in the database you are currently searching. To locate the full text, simply click on the icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in another electronic database. If the article isn't available, click on the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your email inbox in approximately 2-5 business days. To learn about how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins; includes audio).

Journal Finder
If you find a citation to journal in the bibliography of a book or article you can use Journal Finder to see whether or not Geisel Library has access to the volume and issue that you need. Simply type in the name of the journal in Journal Finder and click search. If we have access to that title Journal Finder will tell you where you can locate it (either electronically or in print). If we do not have access to the journal you need you can place an Interlibrary Loan request for that item. To learn more on how to use Journal Finder watch our video tutorial.

To search for journal articles across multiple databases at once, try CrossSearch. For articles with a literary analysis focus, check the 'English' subject category and perform your search. For other perspectives, you may wish to search in 'History', 'Psychology' or 'Sociology'. CrossSearch displays the first 20 results from each database. If an article looks useful, click on the WebBridge icon to see if it is available in full-text or in Geisel Library's periodicals collection on the lower level.

Core English Research Databases

Literature Resource Center  

In addition to providing lengthy biographical profiles of authors, plot summaries, and literary, 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.

Project MUSE
Use Project Muse to pull up research on your topic from a variety of different disciplines. It's content  is very rich in the analysis of literature.

Additional Research databases

Academic Search Premier
This database is multi-disciplinary and many of the articles are available in full-text.
Contained within: Irish Studies Review

ATLA Religion Database and  Catholic Periodical & Literature Index
Use these databases if your research question intersects with the disciplines of theology or Catholic theology.

Historical Abstracts
Use this index if your research intersects with the discipline of history.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.    User Guide

Wonderful source for full text of newspapers and other media, including The Irish Times. Find Book reviews, articles and interviews. Search under General News, World News, Transcripts, and Arts.

Philosopher's Index
Use this database if your research intersects with the disciplines of philosophy or moral decisions.

Use this database if your research question intersects with the discipline of psychology.   User Guide

Use this database if your research question intersects with the discipline of sociology.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Use this database if your research question intersects with the discipline of political science.

Here are some sample journal article citations using the keywords and Subject Headings noted above. Again, please be advised that there are many, many such journal articles available through the databases noted above.

Birchard, Karen. "Inmates in Irish prisons face drug abuse and disease." Lancet 354.9180 (1999): 753. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.

Black, Michael. "Women's Soccer and the Irish Diaspora." Peace Review 11.4 (1999): 531. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.

Cooney, John. "Dublin cardinal to give evidence in abuse inquiry." National Catholic Reporter 42.5 (2005): 7. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.

Ingman, Heather. "Edna O'Brien: Stretching the Nation's Boundaries." Irish Studies Review 10.3 (2002): 253-265. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.

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Selected Websites

American Conference for Irish Studies
Contains links to Irish universities and libraries, single author homepages (e.g. Yeats, Beckett and Heaney) and other U.S.-based sources for Irish Studies, both Gaelic and English.

History of Ireland: Primary Documents
From Brigham Young University, includes the Constitution, foreign policy papers and many more documents.

International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures

Ireland Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory

Irish & Celtic Resources on the Internet
Contains links to historical sources, media, language and the arts.

Irish Culture
From Kathryn Conrad at the University of Kansas, some of the sites listed pertain to contemporary culture.

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Irish Video Holdings available at Geisel Library

The following videos are located on the Lower Level of the library and available for your use. Some are in VHS format, while others are DVDs. Use the Library Catalog to locate call numbers for these videos.

Belfast Girls
Bomb Squad
Celtic Feet with Colin Dunne
Essential History of Ireland
Gangs of New York
Grosse Ile Gateway and Graveyard
Irish in America

Joyce's Ulysses
Magdalene Sisters
Michael Collins
Perfect Corpse
Quiet Man
Radharc Guide to Celtic Monasteries
Red River
Riverdance, The Show
St. Patrick the Irish Legend
Typhoid Mary, The Most Dangerous
     Woman in America
Violence in Northern Ireland & Great Britain (NHIOP)


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Citing Sources

Print guide:
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Ready Ref LB2369 .G53

Online guides:
Citation Examples (UNC Charlotte)
Writer's Handbook (U-Wisconsin)


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Need More Help?

Send us an E-mail
Text us at (781) 733-9275 (afternoons and evenings)

Make an Appointment

Video Tutorials:  Journal Finder, WebBridge, CrossSearch (running time: approx. 3 minutes)

Research Tutorials: Primary vs. Secondary Sources , WebBridge User Guide


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