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EN 104 - Twentieth-Century American Fiction by Women Writers


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to "20th Century American Fiction by Women Writers" 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 vols
     Ref PN43 .D48

Columbia Companion-Twentieth-Century American Short Story
     Ref PS374.S5 C57

Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary
     Ref CB475 .O38 1986

Background on Critical Theory

Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
     Ref PN41 .C83

Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms
     Ref PN41 .F6

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

Critical Survey of Literary Theory
     Ref PN45 .C74 1988

Biographical Sources, Literary Criticism & Bibliographies

Literature Resource Center — Online
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.

      Twentieth Century Literary Criticism
      Includes authors who died between 1900 and 1959.

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

Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature
     Ref PN471 .S58

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature 4 Vols
     Ref PS21 .E537

American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies 13 Vols
     Ref PS129 .A55

American Writers in Paris, 1920-1939
     Ref PS129 .A57

Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States
     Ref PS147 .O94
Provides short biographical sketch of author's work, with publishing history and popular reception of their writings. Also includes timelines and chronological and geographical surveys.

Contemporary American Women Poets: An A-Z Guide
     Ref PS151.C665

Contains biography, themes, and critical reception.

Modern American Women Writers
     Ref PS151 .M54

Bibliographical Guide to African-American Women Writers
     Ref PS153 .N5 J67

American Realists and Naturalists
     Ref PS201 .A46

Twentieth-Century American Literature 8 vols
     Ref PS221.T843

Encyclopedia of Southern Literature
     Ref PS261.S515

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

Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers: An A-to-Z Guide
     Ref PS374 .W6 C66

Contains biography, themes, and critical reception.

Critical Survey of Short Fiction 7 vols
     Ref PN3373 .C7
Introductory essays provide biographical information and critical commentary on short-story writers. Also contains general articles on the development of the short story as a literary form.

Twentieth-Century Short Story Explication
     Ref PN3373 .W33

Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance
     Ref PS285.C47 P56

Facts on File Companion to 20th-Century American Poetry
     Ref PS323.5 .F33

A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American South
     Ref PS261 .C555

Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story
     Ref PS374.S5 F33

Critical Survey of Long Fiction 8 vols
     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

  • Women and literature - United States
  • Women authors, American - biography
  • American fiction -- Women authors -- Dictionaries
  • American literature -- Women authors -- Bio-bibliography
  • American literature -- 20th century -- Bio-bibliography
  • American literature -- 20th century -- Dictionaries
  • American Fiction - 20th Century - Criticism

Keyword Suggestions to use in searching the Catalog

  • southern and litera* and american
  • welty and journey
  • women and literature and (dream*or myth*)

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:

Contemporary American Women Writers: Narrative Strategies
     PS379 .C66 I5

History of Southern Women's Literature
     PS261 .H534

Eudora Welty: A Study of the Short Fiction
     PS3534 .E6 Z73

Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times
     PS3531.O752 Z815

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


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Selected Websites

American Literature on the Web - Women Writers

English and American Literature: A Guide to Internet Sources
Prepared by the University of Delaware Library and contains links to 7 categories, including reviews and electronic texts.

Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature (Univ. of Ca-Santa Barbara)
Detailed list of links to sites for authors and movements, organized by time-period and genre.

Literary Resources on the Net (Rutgers University)
Well-organized links to sites for authors and movement. Primarily English/American literature.

Literature Resources (MIT)
Many links and collections by genre, period etc.

American Cultural History: The Twentieth Century
This Web site, created by Kingswood College Library in Texas, has quick facts about the decades, links to art and architecture, books and literature, fashion and fads, education, historic events and technology, music, persons and personalities, and theater and film. The books & literature section includes "Books that Define the Time" (Sister Carrie) and "Books Covering the Period" (Annals of History).

PAL: Perspectives in American Literature
Created by Paul P. Reuben of California State University, Stanislaus, PAL is arranged like a textbook and contains chapters on "Early Twentieth Century to 1945," "Late Twentieth Century: 1945 to Present," "American Drama," and "Harlem Renaissance." Each chapter contains an introductory essay, selected bibliographies, and information on authors.

American and English Literature Internet Resources (Southern Connecticut State College)


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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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