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EN 104 - Literature of Liberty


What follows is a guide to locating secondary sources in the Geisel Library to support research within the theme of liberty, which exists throughout important literature. It will point you to some very useful reference books and library databases. This guide 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.


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.

Reference books will help you to find background information about your primary source readings concerning liberty by putting their historical, literary, constitutional, sociological and philosophical contexts into perspective.

Reference books are also very helpful in pointing you to additional sources for more detailed scholarly information. 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 Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy will assist you in finding background information which informs the philosophical aspects of liberty literature.

There are many, many reference books which touch on this topic. Here are some especially good ones to get you started:

American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Encyclopedia
     Ref E208 .A433 1993 (2 volumes)
For background information on Jefferson and all matters pertaining to America's struggle for independence.

Blake Dictionary: Ideas and Symbols of William Blake
     Ref PR4146 .A24 1988

Credo Reference
Try an advanced search: freedom liberty (search any of the words) and limit to Search only within headings.

Critical Survey of Poetry
     Ref PR502 .C85 1982 (8 volumes)
For information of the poets and poems you'll be reading for this course.

Critical Survey of Short Fiction
     Ref PN3373 .C7 1981 (7 volumes)
See Baldwin or Gilman entries

Encyclopedia Americana
     Ref AE5 .E333 1995 (30 volumes)
See entries for "Civil Rights and Liberties", "Democracy", "Individualism", "Liberty"

Encyclopedia of African American History
     Ref E185 .E545 (3 volumes)
For Jefferson's views on slavery and more

Encyclopedia of American Political History: Studies of the Principal Movements and Ideas
     Ref E183 .E5 1984 (3 volumes)
See entries for "Civil Rights Movement", "Civil War", "Individualism and Conformity", "Jeffersonian Democracy", "Manifest Destiny", "New Freedom", "Slavery", "Suffrage", "Women's Rights", etc.

Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America
     Ref E188 .E63 1990
See entry on Paine, Thomas

Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
     Ref BL65.P7 E53 2007 (2 volumes)
See entries for "Civil Rights Movement", "Human Rights", "Religion, Freedom of",

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
     Ref KF4548 .E53 2000 (6 volumes)
See entries beginning with the words: "Freedom" (v. 3) or "Right" (v. 5)

Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
     Ref B802 .E53 2003 (4 volumes)
See entries on "Freedom", "Liberty", "Rights"

Historical Dictionary of the Civil War
     Ref E468 .J777 2002 (2 volumes)
For information about people, places, parties (ex., Free Party) and ideas generated from the Civil War

Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution
     Ref DC147 .H57 1985 (2 volumes)
See entry on "Declaration of the Rights of Man"

Literature Resource Center (LRC)
For critical analysis of the works of Baldwin, Munro, Gilman and other creative writers

Marxism, Communism and Western Society: A Comparative Encyclopedia
     Ref AE5 .M27 (8 volumes) See articles on "Freedom" & "Fundamental Rights" in volume 4.

New Catholic Encyclopedia
     Ref BX841 .N44 2003 (print version)
See entries for 'Freedom' and freedom-related topics.

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
     Ref CB9 .N49 2005 (print version)
See entry on 'Liberty'

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
     Ref PS21 .E537 2004 (print version)
For critical essays by leading scholars. See entries for Baldwin, Gilman and Hurston

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
     Ref B51 .R68 (print version)
See entries for 'Free Will', 'Freedom and Liberty', 'Mill, John Stuart' or.

Thomas Jefferson: a Reference Biography
     Ref E332 .T43 1986
See article on "Civil Liberties" beginning on p. 331


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Find Books

Geisel Library Catalog
When exploring the literary, historic, or cultural context of the theme of liberty, 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:

  • anselm and freedom and choice
  • baldwin and sonny's blues
  • (freedom or liberty) and afghan*
  • jefferson and religious freedom
  • (liberty or freedom) and paine
  • slavery and freedom
  • thoreau and civil disobedience

Subject searches are effective for finding books about authors such as Jefferson, Hurston, Paine, etc. Subject searches are also effective for finding books about broad concepts like 'liberty' or 'slavery' or 'human rights', etc. Here are some sample subject headings, but there are many more.

  • Civil Rights
  • Cullen, Countee
  • Human Rights
  • Hurston, Zora Neale
  • Liberty
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Women's Rights

Here are a few books found through keyword and subject searching. Once again, this is just a small selection; there are many others.

Anselm on Freedom
     B765.A84 R63 2008

Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent
     JC599.U5 C59

Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America
     BL640 .W35 2008

Future of Freedom
     JC423 .Z35 2003

James Baldwin: A Collection of Critical Essays
     PS3552.A45 Z76

Thomas Paine and the Promise of America
     JC177.A4 K39 2005

Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom
      HQ1735.6.Z5 Z69 2002

If you are unable to locate enough materials in the Geisel Library catalog, search the collections of libraries worldwide using WorldCat. This 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 the same keywords and subject headings that you used in the library catalog. 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 usually delivered to Geisel Library within 7–8 days.


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Find Journal Articles


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 topics, you may wish to search in 'History', 'Philosophy', 'Political Science' 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.

For tips on using CrossSearch, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).

Individual Databases

Below are several databases that may yield useful journal articles for your research. Try searching on the same keywords that you used in the book catalog, combining concepts using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine the subject headings that have been assigned to them and conduct subject searches on the ones that seem most promising for your research.

If there is no link to the full text of an article you want, click on the WebBridge  icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access. To learn how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).

Academic Search Premier
Provides abstracts and some full-text of scholarly and popular journals for a range of academic areas, including literature, politics, and sociology. Good for book reviews, especially of recent literature such as "The Kite Runner".

America: History and Life
For readings involving United States history. Be sure to use the Historical Period From/To limiter (down below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest. Not full-text.

ERIC (Education)
When your Liberty investigations pertain to the field of education.

Historical Abstracts
For readings (mostly articles) pertaining to the French Revolution. Not full-text.

Search here for full-text articles from major scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.    User Guide

LexisNexis Academic
For reviews in full-text of works of fiction appearing in major newspapers from the early eighties to the present.

Literature Resource Center
Limit the content type to "Literature Criticism" to find the full text of journal articles on works of literature from more than 100 literary journals.    User Guide

MLA International Bibliography
Start here for papers with a literary focus. This database provides citations for articles pertaining to literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.  Not full-text.

New York Times
This database provides full-text access to every page of the New York Times, from 1851 to 2003. It can be very helpful as a historical resource.    User Guide

Philosopher's Index
A simple keyword search on "Liberty" will make you aware of the vast extent of readings. Limit to smaller topics such as "liberty and mill".  Not full text.

Use this database for gaining a social perspective surrounding liberty issues. This sociology database provides some full-text journal articles (not all are full-text) and citations to books and conference papers.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Consult this database for insights into liberty from a constitutional or political science perspective. Not full-text.


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Selected Websites

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. To learn more, see our guide on Evaluating Websites.

Here are a few "umbrella" sites pertaining to the large concept of liberty. Within them you will find links to some primary sources from the earlier centuries, as well as links to interesting essays and bibliographies. You will also find a link to an online journal called "Literature of Liberty", published between 1978–1982 and including several interesting articles.

American Slave Narratives
Read the complete interviews of thousands of former slaves, conducted by the WPA Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. Access restricted to Saint Anselm College Community.

Online Library of Liberty  (from the Liberty Fund)
The Liberty Fund is a "private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals". This site includes links to primary sources such as Mill's "On Liberty" and the complete works of Jefferson and Paine.


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Citing Sources

MLA is the citation style required in this class. The library has both print and electronic versions of MLA citation guides; or ask a Librarian for assistance.

Please also note that many of the databases offer Citation Maker features, allowing you to save your selected sources to the MLA format.


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Need More Help?

Research Help (a Geisel Library-developed website which includes numerous guides and tutorials)

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

Identifying Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Send us an E-mail

Make an Appointment


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