Western Libraries

ENGL 2308E American Literature

Welcome and Introduction


The following course guide has been prepared to assist students undertaking research for coursework in English 2308E: American Literature. Highlighted below are a selection of library resources available to help students locate key critical sources (i.e., works of literary theory and criticism), which should be placed alongside students' own critical reading of the course texts.

Background Information

Consult the following general reference sources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.) to help you get started with your research for this course:

Recommended Online Sources:
John's Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism
Oxford English Dictionary (OED Online)
Oxford Reference Online 
Reference Universe

Recommended Print Sources
Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms (DBW reference NO LOAN PN44.5.B332 2012)
Encyclopedia of Beat Literature (DBW reference NO LOAN PS228.B6E53 2007)
Encyclopedia of Literary Modernism (DBW reference NO LOAN PN56.M54E53 2003)
Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature (DBW reference NO LOAN PR19.E53 2011)
Key Concepts in Literary Theory (DBW reference NO LOAN PN44.5.W643 2006)
Literary Terms and Criticism (DBW reference NO LOAN PN44.5.P38 2002)
Magill's Survey of American Literature (DBW reference NO LOAN PS21.M34 2007)

Finding Books and Articles

Consult the OMNI Library Catalogue to locate literary scholarship published in book format (i.e., collected essays). Works of literary criticism published in books often centre around a particular author, work, literary genre, movement or theme. In order to locate criticism about a work of literature, rather than locating the work itself, use a subject search. Either run a keyword search using the field limit s: (to narrow your keyword OMNI search to the subject heading within the library catalogue record), or select 'Subject' from the drop-down menu of the OMNI Advanced Search.


Consult the following academic research resources (i.e., online databases) to help uncover valuable works of literary criticism, published as journal articles, to strengthen your own critical readings of course texts. Search syntax in most online databases mirrors that whici is used in other search platforms, such as the Shared Libraries Catalogue (e.g. keyword, author, title, subject, etc). If you encouter any difficulty, consult the 'help' page(s) located within the product.

Recommended Research Databases:
MLA International Bibliography 
Project MUSE
Literature Online (LION) 
Google Scholar

Style Guides and Citing

The writing and citation style outlined in the Modern Language Association's MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is generally accepted as the preferred format for language and literature studies. Copies of the MLA Handbook are available throughout Western Libraries.
Non-circulating, ready-reference copies are available both at the Circulation Desk (DBW circ 2HR) and at the Research Help Desk (DBW ref quick NO LOAN) in The D.B. Weldon Library at the following call number: 
LB2369.M57 2016.

Interlibrary Loans / RACER

RACER is an online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material not currently available at Western Libraries and to place requests for that material. To access RACER you must have an account. To create your account, you need to register. If you have already registered, simply login. Please keep in mind that your University ID number is used as your login and your password is created by you.

Need More Help?

If you would like additional help with your research for this course or for a related assignment, please consult our Research Help page or chat with us online. 

You may also wish to consult one or more of the following online tutorials, which have been specifically designed to help Western's Arts & Humanities students with library research: