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Studying Madeline Miller's Circe

Sometimes in a literature course, you will be asked to study and write about a literary work that not many scholars have researched or published on, and you may need to think broadly about how to expand your search to find relevant sources to inform your own literary analysis. This is likely to be the case in your study of Madeline Miller's novel Circe.

Consider expanding the search for sources for your essay to include not only scholarly analysis of this specific text, but in-depth book reviews, background information about Greek mythology, discussion of Homer's Odyssey from which the character Circe originates, or discussion of literary adaptation of the Odyssey more broadly. See the advice below for how and where to find these types of sources.

Finding Sources using MRU LibrarySearch

LibrarySearch is MRU's main search tool for finding articles and books. 

  • Sample search for scholarly articles that mention Miller's Circe. 
    • Note the filters that have been applied to the search on the right side panel, limiting only to peer-reviewed articles.
  • Sample search for reviews of Miller's Circe
    • Note the filter that has been applied on the right side panel - Resource type has been limited only to reviews
    • When looking for reviews, look for ones that are longer and more in-depth, and that come from more reputable publications - literary journals or literary magazines (e.g., Times Literary Supplement, New York Times Book Reviews) will publish more sophisticated commentary on a book than entertainment and popular media publications (such as Entertainment Weekly) 
  • Sample search for sources (books, articles and more) on the topic of literary adaptation of Homer's Odyssey.
    • Note the construction of the search query in the search box - (literature OR literary) AND adaptation AND odyssey. This query will search only for sources that include either one of the terms literature or literary, and both of the terms adaptation and odyssey

Introduction to Using MRU LibrarySearch (8:27)

Find Journal Articles in a Literature Database

Searching a journal article database that is specific to literary studies and related fields will often yield more relevant results more quickly than our more generic LibrarySearch tool.

Recommended databases for the study of literature include:

MLA International Bibliography - this is considered a key research tool in literary studies. 

Literature Criticism Online - Try searching for Circe, which turns results on various adaptations of the Odyssey.

Project Muse - Limit to Literature, or other related research area, using the left-side panel.

Finding Background Sources

Background sources - also know as reference works include encyclopedias, literary dictionaries and handbooks, all of which provide helpful overviews of literary topics, authors, characters, and themes. Try searching a high-quality reference collection or individual reference book for topics related to Circe, using keywords such as:

  • Odyssey
  • Greek mythology
  • Circe
  • Specific mythological figures that appear in the novel, e.g., Zeus, Medea, Daedalus etc. 

When searching within a collection of reference works, or a specific reference book, keep searches simple - generally searches of one or two words work best. Look for results that show substantial word counts, where available (a 1500 word source will be more helpful than a 150 word source). Pay close attention to the titles of the reference works/books in which the results you find are published, and focus on ones that are closely tied to your topic, e.g., related to mythology, classics, or literature.


Recommended Background Sources/Reference Collections

Oxford Reference: Literature - Results from the Oxford Companion to World Mythology, and the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature may be particularly helpful

CredoReference - Try using the subject drop-down menu in the centre of the results page, and limit search results to the subjects of language and literature and mythology and folklore. Look for results from the Homer Encyclopedia

Literature Resource Centre - This collection includes both reference works and journal articles - try looking for Madeline Miller Circe and also more broadly for Circe, Odyssey, etc. 


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