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Research Guides

ENG 120: Critical Interpretation


This guide provides some useful starting places for your research. I'm happy to meet with you to help with any part of the research process, from finding and evaluating sources to understanding how to cite them. You can email me (,  make an appointment on my calendar (, or contact me via chat (under my profile on this page) — whatever works for you! If I'm not currently on chat, you can also use the main library chat to reach a librarian. 

Karen​ Storz, Research & Instruction Librarian

Image: Winslow Homer. The New Novel. 1877. ArtSTOR.


SuperSearch is a great place to start for journal articles, books and almost everything else the library has, in one easy to use interface.

For searching with more focus and precision, try one of the databases recommended on this guide.

Key Databases for Literary Criticism & Biographical Sources

Databases can contain a combination of full-text (ready to read online) and citation information that can lead you to articles, book chapters, or books. It's always a good idea to search in more than one database. Even if there is considerable overlap in content, the different search capabilities and features of each database can help you find different sources. 

MLA Search Tips

To find critical sources on a particular author in the MLA International Bibliography, choose SA Primary Subject Author from the search box menu.

Add other terms to narrow your focus.

Look at the Subjects that come up under the citations. They can provide you with additional ideas for search terms.

For more tips on database searching, see the Search Tips page of this guide.

Search the Library Catalog

General Search Tips

  • Use synonyms and truncation to find the different ways your topic might be expressed—computers are very literal
  • Combine multiple concepts using AND / OR for best results
  • Use quotation marks to search words as a phrase  


Sample topic: Cultural identity in the poetry of Li-Young Lee

(identity OR self)    [synonyms]

AND  (cultur* OR ethnic* OR immigra* OR  "Asian American")   [truncation & phrase searching]

AND   Li-Young Lee

AND   poetry

Internet Archive Books

If you find a book through SuperSearch that is only available in print, see if you can find it by doing a search for the title in the Internet Archive. You can borrow digitized copies of many books for up to 14 days with a free account. You can also do a keyword search in the full content of all of the Internet Archive's digitized books by changing "Metadata" to "Text Contents"  underneath the search box.