In the field of literary studies, there are a variety of strategies for finding relevant sources to inform your essay topics. Consider searching for information on:
the author under study
specific works of the author, or broader discussion of their work
literary themes, techniques or subgenres represented in the text
identities important to the text (national, political, sexual, gender etc.)
combinations of the above
Tip: Add the term criticism to your search words to narrow results down to works of literary criticism
Text / author specific search journal artticle: Re-writing the Bhabhian "mimic man": Akin, the posthuman other in Octavia Butler's Adulthood Rites
Broadened, genre/theme journal article: Self and Other in SF: Alien Encounters
Background sources, also known as reference works (encyclopedias, handbooks, literary dictionaries, etc.) can be a helpful entry point to a research topic. They can provide biographical information about authors, overviews of key texts, introductions to literary genres, themes and techniques, along with helpful definition.
TIP: Keep search queries very short when using background sources - usually one or two search words is enough, e.g. Octavia Butler, cyborg, dystopia, etc.
Look carefully at the works cited lists of relevant sources:
Track down relevant titles you see listed there, then look for the full-text in multiple places:
Assembling search queries
- Put important phrases inside "quotation marks" e.g., "science fiction"
- Search for all possible endings of a word by placing an asterisk * at the end of a word stem, e.g., psychol*
- Experiment with synonyms or alternate way to express key ideas, e.g., other, otherness, alien
Use filters to improve results
- Select journal article and scholarly & peer-review to limit to scholarly articles
- Use the subject filter to limit to results tagged with specific words