Western Libraries

ENGL 3224E Renaissance Literature

Welcome and Introduction

This is your guide to research skills, reference sources, catalogue searching, databases and citation help for ENGL 3224E:  Renaissance Literature. 

Research Process

Remember:  Do not merely reiterate your reading of secondary sources.  When you engage in the research process, you are entering into a conversation with other scholars.  Your own close reading is still important.

close reading


Know your topic:  Consider various perspectives and focus on a particular aspect of the text that interests you.  This focus will anchor your research process.


choose your focus

Once you have developed your own perspective on the text, you may begin to consult secondary sources.  A good starting point is the library website:  http://www.lib.uwo.ca/

Getting Started with Reference Sources

Before your start searching for articles, you may consult reference sources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.) in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the text and time period in question.  The following sources are either available online or at Weldon Library:

The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry, Donne to Marvell
Weldon Stacks (5th Floor):  PR 541.C36 1993

Includes critical essays about key literary figures in the Early Modern Period, including Donne, Herbert, Milton and Jonson.

Dictionary of Literary Biography:  Complete Online

Consists of biographies of major British and American literary figures and outlines critical responses to their texts.

Literature Criticism Online

Outlines critical perspectives regarding major canonical texts and authors.

Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance

A guide to renaissance culture.

Oxford English Dictionary (online)

Learn about word origins and the historic development of English vocabulary.

The Routledge Guide to William Shakespeare
Weldon Stacks (5th Floor):  PR2976.S538 2011 

Includes critical outlines of Shakespeare's plays and poetry.  Also includes contextual information about the period in which Shakespeare wrote and subsequent movements in Shakespearean criticism.

Shakespearean Criticism
Weldon Reference Section (1st Floor):  PR 2965.S43

Contains criticism of Shakespeare's poetry and plays.  This source will provide you with an idea of major names in Shakespearean criticism.  For the online version, see Literature Criticism Online.

Finding Books

Find books and journal titles in our library search engine OMNI (note: OMNI is a powerful search tool, and you WILL also find some articles using OMNI, but a subject-specific database will yield more results. You can find journal titles, eg. Shakespeare Studies, Renaissance Quarterly, etc.).  Like reference sources, books can provide important contextual information.

Shakesqueer is available online and in print format.  The location tells you which libraries hold print copies.  The call number tells you where the book is located on the shelf.  Print versions are held at Brescia, Huron and Kings.  You may order them to be picked up at Weldon by selecting "Request Item" at the top of the screen.  

Finding Articles

Articles are shorter and more specific than books or reference sources.  They offer an intense critical analysis, usually focusing on a particular aspect of a given text (much like the critical essays that you write for classes). 

Articles are often published in scholarly journals and may be considered peer reviewed.  Peer reviewed articles are usually of the highest quality because they undergo a rigorous process in which they are reviewed by experts in a given field.  In order to find articles, search using Omni (the library catalogue) (Omni instructions) or a subject-specific database. Omni will locate books and articles.

MLA International Bibliography
"The MLA International Bibliography is a subject index for books and articles published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics."

Literature Online (LION)
"Literature Online Complete Collection contains an ever-growing database of more than 260,000 works dated 600AD to the present (English poetry from 600 AD to present, American poetry from 1603 to present, English and American drama 1280 to 1915, English prose 1500 to 1900, and more). LION also includes biographies, bibliographies (such as the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature), web links and key secondary sources from the twentieth century. Coverage: 600 AD-current"

"JSTOR offers the scanned image of each journal page as it was originally designed, printed, and illustrated. Coverage for each journal starts with the very first issue, many of which date from the 1800's."

Tips on Reading and Assessing Articles

  • take the CRAAP test
  • isolate the author's thesis statement, either by finding it in an abstract or by reading the article's introductory paragraphs
  • keep in mind your own close reading:  do you disagree with the thesis?  Agree with it?  Does the thesis offer you additional information or a perspective that you had not previously considered?

Style Guides and Citing

Be sure to properly credit secondary sources via in-text citations and a works cited list.  For this class, you will be using the MLA citation guide.  Weldon librarians have produced a quick reference sheet for MLA citation, available online:  http://www.lib.uwo.ca/files/styleguides/MLA.pdf

Please contact a librarian or speak to your instructor if you have any questions about citation.

Interlibrary Loans / RACER

RACER is an online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material and place requests. 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.