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EN 3414 Critical Writing and Research for Literary Studies

This guide serves as the "syllabus" for the library component of the English 3414 course.

Searching Strategies for Databases & Online Catalog

You can find information on your subject by using the Mississippi State University Libraries Online Catalog & available databases.  The searching strategies will work in the catalog and databases.

Two types of searches will help locate books:  the "SUBJECT" and "KEYWORD" searches. 

The Subject Search
Use this search when looking for books about a subject, such as phonetics.  If you are looking for information on an author, you will enter the author's name (last name, first name). 
The Keyword Search
Use this search when looking for resources that you do not know the subject heading for. Keyword searching will search the entire text.   
Example: If you are searching for gothic novel -  the catalog will search for the words gothic and novel anywhere in the document.  To get the results you need, put the two words in quotation marks - "gothic novel."

You will need to add quotation marks at the beginning and end of phrase. 
Example: "Figure of Speech"

Boolean Searching (AND, OR, & NOT) to find information:
Boolean searching is used to show the relationship between words. 

Beloved AND The Bluest Eye = results will have everything that has those two words, but not appearing in a resource individually.

Allegory OR Allusion = results will include everything that includes the words together or individually in a resource

"literary theory" NOT psychoanalysis = results will include all literary theory, but not psychoanalysis.


Truncation is known as a 'Wildcard' search.  By adding an asterisk (*) to find resources containing all spelled variations of a word or other endings to the root of a word.  Be careful because some truncation will give you everything, meaning more than you bargained for. 
Good Example:
femin* theory = results will include feminist theory, feminine theory, & feminism theory
Bad Example:
Mar* = market, marketable, marguerite, marathon, marionette, maraschino, etc.

Serendipitous Browsing for Literary Resources

Woman browses books in an unknown library

"Woman browses books in an unknown library" by Nathan Williams/ CC BY SRR 2.0

Serendipitous Browsing leads to great finds in the library!  You can do this without a computer, just take your self to the circulating collection and look to see what you can find!  Use the Library of Congress (LOC) Call Numbers given below to search the Research Services Reference Collection, as well as the circulating collection.