This guide provides links to print and electronic resources to use when researching your literary themes and topics.
We [I] would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.
By the end of this course:
- Students will find information from appropriate resources for their essays.
- Students evaluate information sources for relevance, authority, currency and perspective using the CRAAP guidelines.
- Students properly cite appropriate document sources (for example primary and secondary materials)
Look for our guide to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
Finding Primary Sources
The actual work of art or text is the primary source document. To find and read novels, short-stories, plays, etc. use Omni, the library interface search tool. Omni lets you do just one search to find books, newspaper articles, journal articles, and more.
|Primary Sources||Secondary Sources|
|Short Story||Plot Summary or Overview|
|Biography of Author|
- Brand, Dionne. "Blues Spiritual for Mammy Prater" in Land to Light On (1997) (Poem)
- Hass, Robert. "Sonnet" in Sun Underwood : New Poems (1996) (Poetry Foundation)
- Komunyakaa, Yusef. "Facing It" in Neon Vernacular New and Selected Poems. (2013)
Click on Advanced Search. Under, Material Type, choose Books from the drop-down menu and type in title of the work in the search box. You can also search by author. Simply choose author/creator from the drop-down menu.
When you get your results, use the links on the left side of the screen to look at the books in our library.
If something is available in paper copy in the library, Omni will give you the call number (which you need to request Curbside Pick-up and Mail Delivery. If something is available online, click on Available Online under Availability.
- Use keywords only, do not search using a full sentence.
- Combine keywords for different ideas with AND
- Combine synonyms or similar words for an idea with OR
- Use NOT to focus a search when a topic contains multiple search terms
- Surround search terms with quotation marks around phrases to locate exact results
- Use truncation (*) at the end of the root of a word to find all the forms of that word ;
and wildcards (?) to replace a single character
- Use parentheses to override search precedence and with OR statements
Example: Keywords - postcolonialism
Example: Boolean operator: AND - indigenous literature AND healing
Example: Boolean operator: OR - (video OR film) AND "yusef komunyakaa"
Example: Boolean operator: NOT - ("Robert Hass" NOT "Dionne Brand")
Example: Truncation and wildcard - female identity AND canad*
For more search information, check this page, Omni Search Tips.
eBooks can be found in Omni by author, title, subject and keyword searching.
Do a search and then limit your search to retrieve only Books by using the drop down menu under Material Type. Next refine your results under Availability to Available Online.
- Canadian Publishers Collection Includes major Canadian University Presses, among them the University of Toronto Press, the UBC Press, Les Presses de l'Université du Québec and McGill-Queen's University Press.
- eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
- Ebook Central Full-text of books from academic publishers, as well as books and reports from Canadian research institutes, government agencies and university centres.
- Scholars Portal Books Full-text available for books from the following publishers: Springer, Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association, Cambridge University Press, Canadian presses and government and non-governmental organizations
- UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004 Collection from University of California Press on a wide range of topics.
See a full list of eBook collections.
Suggested Reference Materials
- The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature / William Toye ; Eugene Benson (1997)
- Canadian Encyclopedia
- The Oxford Companion to Canadian History / Gerald Hallowell (2004)
- Canadian Oxford Dictionary / Katherine Barber (2004)
- Gale Literature
- The Uses of Argument / Stephen Toulmin (2003) (Online) ; (Online)
- The Rhetoric of Argumentation / William J. Brandt (1970) PE1431.B7 1970 ; (Limited (search only) at HathiTrust)
- Modern Rhetoric / Cleaneth Brooke ; Robert Penn Warren (1979) PE1408.B6988 1979 ; (Limited (search only) at HathiTrust)
Other Search Tools:
- HathiTrust Digital Library
- Internet Archive
- WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services.
As you do your research using secondary sources - books and scholarly articles - look for references to relevant primary sources in the footnotes and bibliographies.
Look for a Subject Guide on the discipline of your topic. Explore multiple guides when a topic is multidisciplinary.
Relevant Subject Guides include
If you know which journal you would like to consult, check Omni for the title of the journal (NOT the title of the article) Finding journal articles in Omni just got a little easier. If you do not have a particular journal in mind, you should consult a database.
General Searching in the Databases
If you are looking for articles by a particular author, select AUTHOR from the drop-down list.
If you are searching for a particular article, enter the title and select TITLE from the drop-down list.
For KEYWORD/SUBJECT or key phrase searching, most database search engines encourage you to put your related terms (OR searching) in the same row, and your unrelated concepts (AND searching) in separate rows. See Omni Search Tips for more information.
Tip: Most databases provide a way to restrict the results of a search to peer-reviewed or academic articles. This may be done differently from database to database: check the help pages for more information.
Recommended Databases for literary criticism
Also consult multidisciplinary databases such as:
- Academic OneFile
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database
- Canadian Encyclopedia
- Project Muse
The Oxford Guide to Library Research (2015) by Thomas Mann is one of the most essential books for learning how to formulate a research question and then go about answering it. Previous edition: (2005) (online)
The Concise Oxford Companion to English Lliterature / Daniel Stringer, Hahn, et. al. (2007)
Literary Theory, An Introduction / Terry Eagleton (2008)
Theory of Literature / Paul H. Fry (2012)
Literary Research Guide / James L. Harner (2014) 6th ed.
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism / Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth (1997-)
Literary Genre - Short Stories
- Existentialist Short Stories
- Fantasy Short Stories
- Gothic Short Stories
- Historical Short Stories
- Speculative Fiction Short Stories
Consult the following reference resources for ideas:
- The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms / Chris Baldick (2015)
- Ruffner's Allusions --Cultural, Literary, Religious, and Historical a Thematic Dictionary / Frederick G. Ruffner (2009)
- A New Handbook of Literary Terms / (2007) David, Mikics (2007)
- A Short Handbook of Literary Terms / George Green, Loane (1923)
Searching for a Genre:
Construct a key phrase such as “American fiction” and try it in Omni. You will obtain results about fiction in general and about specific fiction with this particular topic.
Tip: Click the hyper-linked subject headings in the new search tool to find additional titles:
- Literature – Terminology
- Literary form - Terminology
- Literature - Themes, motives - Terminology
- Criticism - Terminology
Library Discovery Search Tool
Use Omni to find books, eBooks, newspapers, films, grey literature, conference proceedings, journals and journal articles. Remember to also check other databases to search for individual article titles.
Begin with a KEYWORD or SUBJECT term search.
Suggested Subject Headings
- Short stories, American - History and criticism
- Feminism - Bibliography
- Magic realism (Literature)
- Postmodernism - Bibliography
Finding Book Reviews
- The Wiley Guide to Writing Essays about Literature / Paul Headrick (2014)
- A Student's Writing Guide : How to Plan and Write Successful Essays / Gordon Taylor (2015)
- Writing Themes About Literature / Edgar V. Rogers (1991) ; (1977) ; (1977 - Limited (search only) at HathiTrust)
- They Say/ I Say : The Moves that Matter in Academic / Cathy Birkenstein (2014) ; (2009) ; (2014 - Limited (search only) at HathiTrust)
- Thinking on the Page : a College Student’s Guide to Effective Writing / Gwen Hyman ; Martha Schulman (2015)
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Well / Laurie Rozalois (2000) (Online) ; (Online)
- Ways of Reading : Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature / Martin Montgomery (2007) (Online) ; (Online)
- How to Read a Book / Mortimer J Adler (2011)
Grammar / Punctuation / Style
Consult these guides:
- English Language and Literature : Writing and Citing Resources (Carleton University)
- Grammar, Grammar (Morgan Library Research Guides)
- The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism by Colin Neville (2010) (Internet Archive)
- "Avoiding Plagiarism: What Do I Need to Cite?" YouTube (1:04m)
- "Plagiarism Video for Schools." YouTube (8:37m)
When citing sources in MLA Style, always list the "core elements" in the order below. MLA no longer requires place of publication. Note: Every element must end with Commas or periods.
- Author. -------------- Period
- Title of source. ------- Period
- Title of container,
- Other contributors,
- Publication date,
- Location. ------------Period
Here are a few online resources to help with formatting your research essay: