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FR 371 - French Women Writers


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to "French 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 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 on evaluating Web resources titled, 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 E-Reference Resources.

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

Literary Terminology

Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Cuddon)
     Ref PN41 .C83

Dictionary of Literary Terms (Shaw)
     Ref PN44.5 .S46

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of French literature /
edited by Joyce M. H. Reid
     Ref PQ41.C6 1976

Dictionary of French literature
Braun, Sidney David, 1912-, ed
     Ref PQ41 .B7

Dictionnaire des Lettres Francaises
Publie sous la direction de Georges Grente [et al.]
     Ref PQ41.D53

Dictionnaire des Litteratures de Langue Francaise /
Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, Daniel Couty, Alain Rey
     Ref PQ41.B4

Dictionary of Modern French Literature: From the Age of Reason Through Realism /
Sandra W. Dolbow
     Ref PQ41.D65

General Collection Materials for Subject Specific Research

Dictionnaire des Oeuvres et des Themes de la Litterature Francaise /
Michel Bouty
     Gen PQ41 .B68

Explications: The Technique of French Literary Appreciation /
W. D. Howarth and C. L. Walton
     Gen PQ53 .H6

Poemes, Pieces, Prose; Introduction a l'Analyse de Textes Litteraires Francais /
[Peter Schofer, Donald Rice [and] William Berg
     Gen PQ53 .S36

Theorie de l'explication Litteraire par l'exemple, a l'usage de l'eseignement du second degre et de l'enseigenement superieur / P. Theveau & J. Lecomte
     Gen PQ53 .T5

Biographical Sources, Literary Criticism & Bibliographies

ARTFL Project [electronic resource] / the University of Chicago ; Analyse et traitement informatique de la langue francaise. This is a multi-faceted database which encompases a component for French Women Writers. The database consists of the following:

"At present the corpus consists of nearly 2000 texts, ranging from classic works of French literature to various kinds of non-fiction prose and technical writing. The eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries are about equally represented, with a smaller selection of seventeenth century texts as well as some medieval and Renaissance texts. We have also recently added a Provençal database that includes 38 texts in their original spellings. Genres include novels, verse, theater, journalism, essays, correspondence, and treatises. Subjects include literary criticism, biology, history, economics, and philosophy. In most cases standard scholarly editions were used in converting the text into machine-readable form, and the data contain page references to these editions." - Site

The French Women Writers' component is described below:

"The ARTFL French Women Writers Project is asearchable database containing works by French women authors from the 16th to the 19th century. Currently, the Women Writers Project is separate from the main ARTFL database; eventually the texts here will be merged with the ARTFL database. This merge will more than double the holdings of texts by French women writers in ARTFL, adding more than 100 texts written by women both well known and non-canonical. After the merge, we will also change the search mechanisms of the ARTFL database so that users can search the database with gender as a criterion." - Site

French Women Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Source Book
     edited by Eva Martin Sartori and Dorothy Wynn
     Ref PQ149 .F73 1991

Literature Resource Center
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 can be used for this information also. See under Reference sources for subject specific materials above.

French Anthology, covering the classical period of French literature from about 1636 to
1820 / edited by Henri Charles Neel
     Gen PQ1109 .N4 1929

Autobiographical Tightropes: Simone de Beauvoir, Nathalie Sarraute, Marguerite Duras, Monique Wittig, and Maryse Conde / by Leah D. Hewitt
     Gen PQ629 .H49 1990

Ecritures de Femmes: Nouvelles Cartographies / compile et edite par Mary Ann Caws ...
[et al.] ; introductions et biographies traduites de l'anglais par Lori Saint-Martin et Paul Gagne
     Gen PQ149 .E25 1996


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Find Books/Secondary Sources

Searching by author

Type in the author's name beginning with the surname:

  • La Fayette, Madame de
  • Beauvoir, Simone de
  • Sand, Georges

Note that with French names, "de" and "de la" are often not put at the beginning of the surname. Don't worry! If you try to search on the wrong form of the name, the catalog will redirect you to the correct form.

Subject headings Suggestions to use in searching the Catalog

  • French literature
  • French literature - 16thcentury
  • French literature - 17th century (18th, 19th, 20th, etc.)
  • French literature, women authors
  • Novelists, French
  • Women novelists, French
  • Women and literature - France - History

Keyword Suggestions to use in searching the Catalog

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.

  • french and litera* and wom*
  • stael and litera*
  • authorship and women and france

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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

ARTFL Project (use this database - subsection French Women Writers)

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

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 The French Review, Nineteenth-Century Literature, MLN (Modern Language Notes), and others. 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      Arts & Sciences III


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Other Online Resources

There are excellent web pages devoted to the study of certain authors. Look for those sponsored by organizations or colleges and universities for the most dependable content.

Examples are:

George Sand
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore


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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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