French Literature

If you're not sure where to start your research this guide will point you to some of the best starting points. Don't forget, you can always get in touch directly with any questions you may have. 

Subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias and introductory texts can be useful for helping you figure out the jargon of a discipline and can give quick overviews of a topic to get you started. You can often pick up keywords to use in your search strategies from these sources. 

General French Literature

de Beaumarchais, J. P. (2001). Dictionnaire des écrivains de langue française
Call Number: PQ41.B42 2001 see availability

Dictionary of Literary Biography Online

Flower, J. (2013). Historical dictionary of French literature

France, P. (1995). New Oxford Companion to Literature in French.‚Äč

Kay, S. (2006). A short history of French literature. 

Quebec/Canadian Literature

Benson, E. & Toye, W. (1997). Oxford compation to Canadian literature, 2nd ed

Lemire, M. (2009). Dictionnaire des oeuvres littéraires du Quebec, 2nd ed.
vol. I-VI online, vol VII in print only, Call Number: PS8016.D5 see availability

Literary Terminology

Bergez, D. (1994). Vocabulaire de l'analyse littéraire
Call Number: PN41.B48 1994 see availability

Cuddon, J. A. (2013). A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory, 5th ed. 
Call Number: PN41.C83 2013 see availability

van Gorp, H. et al. (2001). Dictionnaire des termes littéraires
Call Number: PN41.L39214 2001see availability

Literary Theory/Studies

Aron, P., Saint-Jacques, D. & Viala, A. (2004). Le dictionnaire du littéraire
Call Number: PN41.D486 2004 see availability

Barsky, R. F. (1997). Introduction a la théorie littéraire. 
Call Number: PN81. B37 see availability

Eliot, S. & Owens, W. R. (1998). A handbook to literary research. 
Newer edition (2010) only in print, Call Number: PN73.H36 2010 see availability

Klarer, M. (2004). An introduction to literary studies, 2nd ed.

General Search tips:

  • Note that even if a book or journal article is written in French often the Subject Headings, abstracts etc will be in English
  • This means that if you want to be thorough in your search, don't limit your keywords to just French or just English: for best results try both French and English
  • You can combine this into all one search, or do separate searches using English keywords and then another using the equivalent French keywords
    Example: écri* migrante* OR immigrants writing*  [ the * is used as a wildcard: this search will find all of the following forms écriture, écritures, écrivain, écrivains... as well as migrante, migrantes] 
  • In general, don't worry about diacritics (accents), these are usually ignored in searches. 

Finding Books:

  • Summon : the one-search box on the Library's home page. Look for a specific title, or use keywords to find books on a topic. Use the filters on the results page to refine your search results. For example you can limit to books (content filter) that are written in French (language filter)
  • Library catalogueYou can also search directly in the catalogue
  • University of Ottawa library: as a larger and bilingual university the U of O collection in French is much bigger than ours. You can borrow books from them using your Carleton Campus Card. Their E-books can be accessed on site at U of O only. 
  • WorldCat is a database that lets you search the collections of thousands of libraries around the world: if a book exists, it's likely you can find it here. 

Free Full-Text E-book Collections:

There are many sources of free e-books. Sometimes we may have these listed in our catalogue, but often we do not. Depending on what you are looking for, some of these collections may be useful: 


Finding Journal Articles: 

  • Summon: the library's single search can be used to find journal articles in any discipline. You can filter results to just show journal articles, and can also filter to just scholarly, peer reviewed articles. 
  • We also have subject or discipline specific databases that may allow you to find sources you can't find through Summon. They also often include other features (search, sort, result display, download...) that Summon does not have. All will let you find journal articles. Some will include books or book chapters.
    • MLA International Bibliography: primary index to literature secondary sources
    • Gale Literary Sources: Includes biographies, bibliographies, and critical analyses of authors from every age and literary discipline. Covers more than 125,000 novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, and other writers. Full-text resources include: Dictionary of Literary Biography + Literature Criticism Online Contemporary Authors series, Encyclopedia of Literature and many more.
    • Cairn, Erudit, Persée, & Repère contain material written in French but that cover all subject areas, not just literature.
    • Francis is a free database that covers the humanities and social sciences. About 30% of the resources are in French and 40% are from European sources. NOTE: only covers up to 2015

MLA Style 

The most common citation style used in literature is the MLA (Modern Language Association) style.  If you're not sure what style to use, check with your professor or T.A.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA Formatting & Style Guide. They give examples of all kinds of references, both how to cite within your text as well as how to format the bibliography. Also includes a sample paper 
  • MLA Style Center : official MLA site, includes an FAQ and ability to post questions
  • You can also just google: "how do I cite xxxx in mla", which will lead to reputable sites(look or other university web sites). Example: "how do I cite a video in MLA"

Note about citation management tools

If you want to know more about citation management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote come to one of our workshops during the fall and winter terms. These tools can help you gather, organize, and automatically format your references/citations in MLA format


General Writing Help:

Want some one-on-one help with your writing?
Need some help with your draft? Make an appointment with
Writing Services, located on Floor 4 of the MacOdrum Library


Soutien écrit: provided by the French department @ Carleton University

Ballenger, B. P. (2012). The curious researcher: a guide to writing research papers, 7th ed. 
Call Number: LB2369.B246 2012 see availability

Besnard, C. (2010). Apprivoiser l'écrit: techniques de l'écrit et stratégies d'auto-perfectionnement.
Also in print, Call Number: PC2420.B48 see availability

Bishop, G. & Haezewindt, B. (2005). Developing writing skills in French
Also in print, Call Number PC2420 .B54 2005 see availability

Graff, G. & Birkensteain, C. (2014). "They say / I say": the moves that matter in academic writing
Call Number PE1431.G73 2014 see availability

Harris, R. A. (2002). Using sources effectively: Strengthening your writing and avoiding plagiarism
Call Number: PN146.H37 2002 see availability

Northey, M. (2007). Making sense : a student's guide to research and writing, 5th ed. 
Call Number: LB2369.N67 2006 see availability

Pilote, C. (2012). Guide littéraire: analyse, plan, rédaction, procédeés, genres, courants.
Call Number: PC2420.P57 2012 see availability

Shields, M. (2010). Essay writing: a student's guide
Call Number: PE1471.S45 see availability

Content last reviewed: March 21, 2019