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Literary Research: Finding Sources

Critical Contexts

Use this database to "catch up" on the conversation.  Read what others have written about the work and its creator.  You can start by typing the title of the work (or the creator) into the main search box.  Try different strategies:

  • Scroll through and click on any titles that seem useful
  • Use the "Search within" tool on any results screen to limit the results to only those containing a word or phrase
  • Use the Topic Finder button to see a visual representation of the subtopics covered within the results

See Using Gale Literature for more information.

See Using Oxford Reference Online Premium for more information.

Biographical Context

Use this database to learn more about the creator of the work.  Type the name of the author/poet/playwright into the search box.  Note that there will likely be one overview (or main) article about the person; however, there should be links to all kinds of other types of sources containing information about the person.  The link to Reference will provide you with a list of different biographical entries from different reference books - these allow you to explore the person's life through different lenses.  For example, a female African American author might be featured (written about) in biographical reference books that focus on African American women, female authors, black authors, black female authors, trends in pop culture, a particular decade, and a multitude of others.  

See Using Biography - Gale in Context for more information.

Historical & Cultural Contexts

These databases will provide you with some background knowledge about particular time periods, cultural trends, and issues.  They contain reference articles that provide excellent overviews and context, along with other types of sources that can help you develop your topic and support your thesis.

The 3 Gale in Context databases will work the same way as Biography - Gale in Context, providing relevant topic overviews, as well as links to related sources of many different types.  They also provide the same useful filtering options, such as Search Within Results and the Topic Finder.

See Using Issues & Controversies and Issues & Controversies in American History for more information on the useful features in those databases.

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