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EN 104 - American Adventures



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.

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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 offer succinct literary analyses 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 of Reference Books below.

Print Reference

African American Writers  Ref PS153.N5 A344

American National Biography   Ref CT213 .A68

American Renaissance in New England   Ref  PS243.A54

American Writers  Ref PS129.A55

Columbia Guide to American Women in the 19th Century Ref HQ1418 .C58 2000

Dictionary of American Biography   Ref E176 .D564

Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion   Ref BL65.P7 E53 2007 (see Douglass entry in vol. 1)

Mark Twain A to Z  Ref PS1331 .R37 1995

Nineteenth-Century American Fiction Writers  Ref PS377 .N56 1999  v. 202

Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism   Ref PN761 .N56  Of special note, see topics: "American slave narratives" (v. 20), "Travel writing" (v.44), "Women's autobiography" (v.76) and "Women's diaries" (v. 48).  See also Literature Resource Center for online content.

Notable American Women  Ref CT3260 .N574

Oxford Companion to Mark Twain  Ref PS1330 .O97 2003

Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives   Ref CT213 .S37

Electronic Reference

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century
     Ref E169.1 .E626 2001 (print version)

Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography

Gale Literary Index (GLI)
Use the GLI to see if your author or work is discussed in Gale's Literary Criticism Series. Within this series is the set titled Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism.

Literature Resource Center
This database contains lengthy biographical essays that examine the lives and works of authors from all countries and time periods. On the Basic Search screen, enter the author's name, tick the "Person - By or About" limiter, and limit the Content Type to "Biographies".  See also Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism for print content.

Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia 

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature 
    Ref PS21 .E537 2004 (print version; 4 vols.)  See vol. 1 entries on 'Autobiography'.

Oxford Reference Online
This collection includes biographies taken from several hundred reference sources. After running a Quick Search on a person's name, click the "Subject Reference: Longer Entries" tab to view more the more substantive entries.

Women in World History: a Biographical Encyclopedia

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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. Also, please remember to use truncation symbols (wildcards). For example, 'autobiograph*' will retrieve results containing the words autobiography, autobiographies or autobiographical. When you find a promising result, view its detailed record for relevant subject heading links.

Here are some keyword search examples:

  • autobiograph* and (19th or nineteenth)
  • alcott (crane, douglass, jacobs, etc.) and autobiograph*
  • feminism and (19th or nineteenth)
  • life writing
  • civil war and (diary or diaries)

Subject searches are effective for finding books about authors and their works. Subject searches are also effective for finding books about broad concepts like 'Autoboiography' or 'Nineteenth Century Literature'.

Sample Subject Headings:

  • Alcott, Louisa (or other names as subjects)
  • American fiction — 19th century
  • American prose literature — 19th century
  • Americans — Travel — 19th Century
  • Autobiographical fiction
  • Autobiography
  • Biography as a literary form
  • Novelists, American — 19th century
  • Personal narratives — 19th Century
  • Self in literature
  • Travel writing — 19th century
  • Women — United States — 19th Century

Here are some examples of books found by using subject and keyword searches:

American Autobiography:  A Collection of Critical Essays  PS169.A95 A5 1981
American Fiction to 1900:  A Guide to Information Sources  PS368 .K57 1975
American Literature:  Poe through Garland  PS201 .C58 1971
Autobiography  (Linda Anderson)
Before They Could Vote: American Women's Autobiographical Writing, 1819-1919
Constructing American Lives:  Biography & Culture in Nineteenth-Century America   DT34.U6 C37
Daring to Dream:  Utopian Stories by United States women, 1836–1919  PS648.U85 D37 1984
Design and Truth in Autobiography  CT25.P37
Literary Transcendentalism (see chapter "Transcendentalist self-examination and autobiographical tradition")  PS217 .T7B8
On Autobiography  CT25 .L37 1989
Reading Autobiography:  (a Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives)
Self Impression:  Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature  CT21 .S28 2010
When Memory Speaks  CT25 .C68 1999
  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 7–10 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, plot summaries, and literary, 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.

America  History and Life
Try a subject search:  Autobiography, and limit to Historical Period:  1800–1899. There is lots!

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.

Particularly helpful for articles pertaining to gender and/or social class issues concerning 19th century autobiography.

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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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