There are three types of keywords to use when searching for literary criticisms…
The first is your author’s name.For many author’s the last name is sufficient, especially for canonical authors; however, if the author has a common or generic last name, you may need to qualify your search by also including the author’s first name. Examples: the Shelleys, who were both authors in their own right; H.G. Wells, who has a common last name plus initials – you could use his initials or his full name.
When using author names, keep in mind whether your author was known by other names, having pseudonyms or pen names. This often occurs with female authors who took a pen name to maintain their respectability. Also occurs with authors who were perhaps writing in a different genre than usual (newspaper journalism) or were writing on a controversial or delicate subject matter.
The second type of keyword you can use is your text title.Whether you are examining a novel, short story, play, or essay, you can use the complete title or in some cases portions of the title as a keyword.For poetry, know that you can use the title of the poem you’re examining as well as the name of the collection/anthology in which it appeared.
The final type of keyword you can use is your topic or idea – the thing about the text or author you wish to examine.There are many kinds of topics you can use, and the following are examples.
Topics can include:-- author’s technique – if you’re looking at the author’s use of metaphor, narration, dialogue, etc.-- the theory you are using as a lense while reading/commenting. Examples: formalism, feminism, psychoanalysis, queer, etc.-- the use of symbols throughout the text. Examples: lightness/darkness, sun/son, mirrors, art, objects, etc.-- the genre of the text. Examples: epic poetry, bildungsroman, historical fiction, satire, comedy, etc.-- the historical period in which the text was written/published. Example: medieval, renaissance, interregnum, enlightenment, victorian, edwardian, post-war, etc.-- the character(s) within the text you’re examining. Examples: Ophelia, Elizabeth Bennett, Falstaff, etc.-- the country -- or even region -- in which the text was either written/published or set. Examples: England, Great Britain, Lake District, London, India, etc.-- the literary period in which the author is associated. Examples: transcendentalism, romanticism, postcolonial, etc.
Once you have identified some possible keywords, it’s good to try combining (or stringing) them using Boolean in order to find what you need faster. This is especially true with canonical authors and works. For example,Shakespeare AND Othello – will give hundreds(!) of criticisms devoted to this playShakespeare AND Othello AND envy – will give criticisms focused on the aspect of envy as found within the play
There are also three search tips that can help you….
The first is to use quotation marks around phrases (names, places, events, etc.) and titles.Quotation marks work especially well around titles that have common, generic words in them so that they don’t get lost in your search. Examples: “The Name of the Rose,” “Because I Could not Stop for Death,” etc.
The second is the asterisk which is good for word variations.Place an asterisk at the end of the root of a word to help you find similar words. Keep in mind that you can get more than you bargained for……Example: photo* will find photography and photographs, yes, but it will also find photosynthesis.
The last is the question mark which is good for spelling variations – useful as word spellings change over time and over continents.Place the question mark in the spot where there may be alternate spellings.
Research Tips for Literature
how to do literary research<br />Photo by the paoloagostini. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/paoloclik/5985799344/<br />
search strategies<br />Photo by Ralphael Bernardino. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/supernovalife/266209738/<br />
PercyBysshe<br />Shakespeare<br />Shelley, Mary<br />Shelley, <br />Wells<br />H<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />HELLO<br />MY NAME IS<br />Austen<br />Wells, H.G.<br />#1<br />your <br />author’s name<br />Herbert George<br />Wells,<br />Chaucer<br />Yeats<br />Wharton<br />Hemans<br />Keats<br />
pseudonyms & pen names<br />Mark Twain <br />= <br />Samuel Clemens<br />Currer Bell<br />= <br />CharlotteBronte<br />Photo by the brownhorse. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_brownhorse/2376954523/in/photostream/ <br />
#2<br />your text’s title<br />novel<br />short story<br />play<br />essay<br />poem<br />anthology of poems<br />etc.<br />Photo by Jim Barry Photography. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimbarryphotography/4275239537/<br />
#3<br />your topic or idea<br />Photo by ralph&dot. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ralph-dot/2901878875/ <br />
theory<br />technique<br />symbols<br />historical period<br />genre<br />character<br />literary period<br />country<br />Photo by zetson. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/zetson/3036254720/<br />
author AND topic<br />author AND text<br />text AND (topic OR topic)<br />Photo by pamwares. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/pamwares/3827985223/<br />
good for <br />phrases & titles<br />“Lake District”<br />“narrative theory”<br />“Age of Innocence”<br />“The Beggar’s Opera”<br />#1<br />Photo by Studio Biyan. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/studiobiyan/6037497907/<br />
good for <br />word variations<br />poet*<br />poet, <br />poets, <br />poetry, <br />poetics, <br />poetical…<br />#2<br />Photo by kerrycampbell. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/41974024@N03/4318653131/ <br />
good for <br />spelling variations<br />wom?nbehavio?r<br /> women behaviour<br /> woman behavior <br />womyn<br />#3<br />Photo by Don Moyer. Available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/36106576@N05/4230355443/in/photostream/<br />
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