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EN 104 - Literature of the Fantastic


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, among other e-reference books, in the selected list below.

Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Glossaries, etc.

Brave New Words:  the Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction
     Ref PN3433.4 .P78 2007

Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature
     Ref PN3433.4 .C565 (2 vols.)

Critical Survey of Short Fiction
     Ref PN3373 .C7 (7 vols.)

Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins and other Supernatural Creatures
     Ref GR549 .B74

Encyclopedia of Fantasy
     Ref PN56 .F34 E53

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
     Ref PN3433.4 .E53 1993

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction
     Ref PN3433.4 .F54 2010

Gale Virtual Reference Center
This is a collection of online subject encyclopedias spanning a broad range of disciplines, including science fiction topics such as "Androids".

Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory
     Ref PN44.5 .H37

Gothic Writers:  a Critical & Bibliographical Guide

Guide to Supernatural Fiction
     Ref PN56.S8B57

Icons of Horror and the Supernatural
     Ref PN56 .H6 I26 (2 vols.)

J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia
     Ref PR6039 .O32Z664 2007

Latin American Science Fiction Writers
     Ref PQ7082.S34 L38

Literature Resource Center (LRC)
Provides  lengthy biographical profiles of authors and plot summaries

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers
     Ref PN3448.S45 S246 1998

Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes and Goblins: an Encyclopedia of the Little People
     Ref GR549 .R65 1996

Supernatural Fiction Writers:  Contemporary Fantasy and Horror
     Ref PN3435 .S96 2003 (2 vols.)

Supernatural Literature of the World:  an Encyclopedia
     Ref PN56 .S8 S86 2005 (3 vols.)

Literary Criticism

Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction (Online)

American Short-Fiction Criticism and Scholarship 1959–1977
     Ref PS374 .S5 W4

Anatomy of Wonder:  A Critical Guide to Science Fiction
     Ref PN3433.5 .A5

Critical Survey of Long Fiction
     Ref PN3451 .C7 (8 vols.)

Short Fiction Criticism
     Ref PR829 .T58

Science Fiction Book Review Index
     Ref PN3448.S45 S354

Science Fiction Writers:  Critical Studies
     Ref PS374.S35 S36 1999

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reference Index
     Ref PN3433.5 .S34 (4 vols.)
Please note:  for online access, consult Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database.

Twentieth-Century Short Story Explication
     Ref PN3374 .W33


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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:

  • (journey OR epic OR odyssey) AND (science fiction OR fantas* fiction)
  • (fiction OR literature) AND "other world*"
  • "perilous realm"
  • "other worlds" AND "science fiction"
  • (insanity or madness) AND horror AND (literature OR fiction)
  • "science fiction" AND theor*

Subject searches are effective for finding books about authors and their works. Subject searches are also effective for finding books about broad concepts like Horror Tales or Fantasy Literature. Here are some sample subject headings, but there are many more:

  • Fairies — Fiction
  • Fairy Tales
  • Fantasy Fiction
  • Fantasy Literature
  • Folklore
  • Gothic Fiction
  • Horror Tales
  • Imagination in Literature
  • LeGuin, Ursula — Criticism (or use any author as a subject; last name first)
  • Myth in Literature
  • Science Fiction
  • Supernatural in Literature

Here are some examples of books found by using subject and keyword searches; there are many others:

Asimov On Science Fiction
     PN3433.5 .A8

Dark Descent
     PS648 .H6D36 1987

Different Engines:  How Science Drives Fiction and Fiction Drives Science
     PN3433.6 B73 (2008)

Fantastic Odysseys:  Selected Essays
     PN56 .F34 I58 2003

Feminist Narrative and the Supernatural
     PS147 .W44 2008

Finding Oz:  How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story
     PS3503.A923 W5987 2009

Focus on the Science Fiction Film
     PN1995.9 .S26J6

Science Fiction:  a Collection of Critical Essays
     PN3433.8 .S27 1976

Science Fiction:  History, Science, Vision
     PN3433.8 .S266 1977

Science Fiction Today and Tomorrow
     PN3433.5 .B74 1974

Speculations on Speculation:  Theories of Science Fiction
     PN3433.5 .S64 2005

Supernatural Horror in Literature
     PN3435 .L64 1973

Uses of Enchantment:  the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
     GR550 .B47

Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy
     PS 374 .F27 W36 2006

Hint:  When you locate a useful book or book chapter, look to the right and left of it on the book shelves and scan the 'Tables of Contents'. You may find other helpful books or chapters.

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.


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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 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
When WebBridge is not available, such as when you find a journal citation in a book's bibliography, use Journal Finder to see whether 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. You will then be prompted with links for finding the article, including an Interlibrary Loan link. 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 and plot summaries, this resource also provides the full text of articles from more than 100 literary journals.

MLA International Bibliography
"MLA" is a very comprehensive index produced by the Modern Language Association of America.

Project MUSE
Use Project Muse to gather research articles from a variety of disciplines.  Its content  is strong in the area of literary analysis.

Additional Search Interfaces

Academic Search Premier and ProQuest Central
These two databases are multi-disciplinary and many of the articles are available in full-text.  They are a good place to begin searching for scholarly sources.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar is becoming more and more useful for performing scholarly research. The Geisel Library has enabled a connection between Scholar and WebBridge, allowing you to determine the whereabouts of a needed item.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences. Please note that the latest 5 years of publications are not included in JSTOR.

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

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

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


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Selected Internet Resources

Searching the Internet can yield a vast amount of information, but in terms of quality and reliability, your results may be uneven at best. The ease and speed with which individuals can publish information on the web, regardless of accuracy or quality makes it imperative that when doing research on the web you know how to evaluate the information you find.

If you locate books or articles on the Internet that you would like to view please check with a reference librarian to see if the items can be located in Geisel Library's print or electronic collection or through Interlibrary Loan.

Fantastic Fiction
Use Fantastic Fiction to browse titles and authors of gothic, supernatural, science fiction, and horror novels.

Literature of the Fantastic
This site offers original full text literature and a link to the Fantasy and SF Writers Workshop.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database
Search Hal W. Hall's archive of more than 55,000 citations to articles, books, news items, etc., dating back to 1878. There are both quick and advanced search options.

Selected Authors of Supernatural Horror
Includes links to resources on a select number of "Gothic" authors.


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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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