The Literature Resource Center is an excellent place to begin researching particular authors or literary works. Its contents include biographical essays, literary criticism, book reviews, and plot overviews. This database can help you understand how an author's life has shaped his or her literary output, explore major themes in a novel, or analyze the symbolism and structure of a poem or short story.
There are several options for conducting searches in Literature Resource Center. The homepage enables you to search by Person, which will retrieve the full range of available documents about a particular author. You can search by Name of Work to find articles and essays about specific literary works, such as novels, short stories, and poems. If you are less interested in specific authors or works than in themes or literary movements, enter search terms reflecting your topic and indicate that you want to search by Keywords.
If your basic search yields too many search results to readily examine, consider utilizing the Advanced Search module (shown above) to narrow your focus. Advanced Search permits you to simultaneously search on an author, title, and/or one or more topical keywords, connected by default with the Boolean "AND" operator. Use the drop-down boxes to indicate the appropriate search field for each term (e.g., author or title). Select the "All Text" option in a drop-down box to locate any articles in which the corresponding search term appears. You can use the Boolean "AND" and "OR" operators within your All Text search line to search on multiple terms. The asterisk (*) is a wildcard that enables you to retrieve variant forms of a word; in the example above, articles containing the words "morality", "morals", and "moralistic" will be found. Use quotation marks around groups of words to search them as a phrase.
This database provides several options for limiting the results of your search. If you are strictly interested in biographical essays or literary criticism, select the appropriate option(s) in the Content Type limiter before pressing the Search button. You can limit your search to scholarly sources only by marking the Peer-Reviewed Publications checkbox. You can also narrow your search by publication date and language.
Viewing and Interpreting Results
The results screen is organized by type of document. Under the Literary Criticism tab, you will find articles from scholarly and popular periodicals that analyze particular literary works. Click the Biographies tab to read lengthy biographical profiles of the author, including a list of writings, analysis of major themes, and discussion of the author's critical reception. Click on the Topic and Work Overviews tab for basic summaries of the plot, themes, and characters of a literary work. Some articles may only be available in excerpt form; to obtain the complete full text, try searching the article title in the MLA International Bibliography database. You can use the subject terms on the left side of the screen to narrow your search results to articles dealing with particular works, themes, or authors.
To view an article, click on its blue link. In the article screen, hit Control-F (or Find) to search for particular words of interest within the article's text. In the Tools box at right, use the Print Preview link to print a nicely-formatted version of the article, or use the E-mail link to email yourself the full text. At the bottom of the article, be sure to copy out the article's Source Citation so that you can include it in your bibliography.
For assistance with other features in this database, consult the Literature Resource Center help page.