Main Content

EN 104 - The Accidental Odyssey: A Tapestry of Journeys


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.

Hopefully, 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 New Dictionary of the History of Ideas will assist you in finding background information on relevant subjects such as realism and naturalism.

Here are some especially good reference book titles to get you started:

General Reference Books

Credo Reference and Oxford Reference Online
These online collections are helpful for basic background information on authors and historical events.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
This is a good source for obtaining background info on authors and finding keywords that represent your topic.

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
Find entries for overviews on subjects such as realism, naturalism, and symbolism.
     Ref CB9 .N49 (print version)

Subject-Specific Reference Books (Non-Literary)

The titles listed below represent only a small number of subject-specific reference resources that may be of use to you in your research:

Country Studies (from the Library of Congress)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:  DSM–IV
     Ref RC455.2.C4 D54 2000

Encyclopedia of Psychology (multi-volume set)
     Ref BF31 .E52 2000

Encyclopedia of Religion
     Ref BL31 .E46 (print version, 16 volumes)

Encyclopedia of Sociology (multi-volume set)
     Ref HM425 .E5 2000

Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War
    Ref DS557.7 .E53 1996

New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed.
    Ref BX841 .N44 (print version, 15 volumes)

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Literary Reference Books

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

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

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

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

Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (5 volumes)
    Ref PN771 .E5

Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory
    Ref PN44.5 .H37

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.

Popular World Fiction 1900-Present (4 volumes)
      Ref PN3503.P586

Spanish American Women Writers
     Ref PQ7081 .S6

Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary
     Ref CB475 .O38

World Literature and its Times: Latin American Literature and its Times
     Ref PQ7081 .M625


Return to top


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:

  • metafiction
  • feminis* and allende
  • (post traumatic or ptsd) and vietnam*
  • magic* realism
  • taliban and (psycholog* or stress)
  • american naturalism
  • stephen crane and symbolism

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

  • Islamic fundamentalism
  • Jihad
  • Magic realism
  • Muslim women
  • Naturalism in literature
  • Oates, Joyce Carol - Criticism and interpretation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Setting (Literature)
  • Taliban
  • Women - Afghanistan - Social conditions
  • Journalism
  • Reporters & reporting

Here are a few books found when using the keyword and subject searches noted above. Once again, this is just a small selection; there are many others.

The Catholic Church and the Nation-State; Comparative Perspectives
     BX1793 .C355
(see chapter on 'The Catholic Church in Ireland and Northern Ireland')

Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates
     PS3565.A8 Z63

Isabel Allende
      PQ8098.1.L54 Z72 2002

Journalists Under Fire: The Psychological Hazards of Covering War
      RC552 .P67F45 2006

Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community
     PN56 .M24 M34

My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban
     HQ1735.6 .Z75L3813 2001

Nine Parts of Desire: the Hidden World of Islamic Women
     HQ1170 .B76 1995

Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth Century American Literature
     PS214 .P5

The Role of Place in Literature
     PN56.S48 L8 1984

The Taliban: War, Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan
     DS371.2 .M3731 1998

A Trauma Artist: Tim O'Brien and the Fiction of Vietnam
     PS3565 .B75 Z65 2001

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 7–10 days.


Return to top


Find Journal Articles

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

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

ProQuest Central
These databases are multidisciplinary and include lots of article pdfs.

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

Use JSTOR to perform an interdisciplinary search on your topic (this database searches the back issues of journals)

LexisNexis Academic:  News
This database provides full-text access to book reviews published in major papers such as the New York Times and Boston Globe from about 1980. Here you will find valuable information about topics in the news since about 1980, such as War in Iraq.

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.


Return to top


Selected Websites

These websites are mainly relevant for literary analysis of the works being studied. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topics in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable.

Author Websites (created by the NYC school system)
This site has many links to author websites for this course's readings. Included are Allende, Joyce, Chopin, Oates, O'Brien, and others.

Authors on the Web
From the University of Virginia, another list of Websites that features author biographies.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar is a good starting point for research, but it is not considered comprehensive for scholarly content. For the most thorough search of a topic, consult subject-specific indexes (ERIC, PsycINFO, SocINDEX, etc.). Some, but not all, of the content in Google Scholar is available in full text. One word of caution: never purchase an article found on Google Scholar; always check with a reference librarian to see if the article can be located in Geisel Library's print or electronic collection or through Interlibrary Loan.

Internet Public Library
Click on the link to "Arts & Humanities," then "literature." Here you will find authoritative Websites on British and American authors and their works. Many of the authors discussed in this course are listed.

Literary Resources on the Net
The links here are categorized by literary genre (ex. Poetry) or literary period (ex. Victorian) and searchable by keyword.

Voice of the Shuttle: American Literature Resources
This website has a long history as an electronic gateway for humanities researchers, including an enormous listing of online resources related to American literature. The page is organized roughly by time period and author.


Return to top


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)


Return to top


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


Return to top