Skip to main content
Check Bryn Mawr's, Haverford's, or Swarthmore's library websites for additional resources during COVID-19.

ENGL 250: Intro to Literary Methods (BMC)

ENGL 250: Intro to Literary Methods; Spring 2020; Harford Vargas, Sullivan

Help with Theory

Literary Theory

Using MLAIB & other databases

Use the MLA International Bibliography to find secondary sources

Additional article databases

U.S. News

What is Peer Review?

What is Peer Review? from NCSU Libraries

Using Tripod

Tripod: The library's catalog

    Keyword Search:

         E.g.,    Awakening Chopin criticism

   Or Subject Search:

         E.g.,  Chopin, Kate > 1850-1904 > Awakening

                   Chopin, Kate > 1850-1904 > Criticism and interpretation

                   Women and literature > Louisiana

Getting Books & Articles from Other Libraries

Search Strategies

Search Strategies

Q: How can I search for sources more efficiently? 


  • First, identify the main concepts in your topic.   Example:  gender in 18th century literature


  • Find different keywords to describe those concepts.  Think of words that are likely to be used in the title, subject, author or table of contents.  MLAIB has a thesaurus which can help you identify related terms.



  • Try a search combining your terms.



  • When you find an interesting article or book, look at the subjects to find more search terms.



  • When you find a good article or book, look at the bibliography or references that the author cites to find other related sources.


  • As you continue your searching, you may need to slightly modify your topic. See NC State’s Finding the Perfect Source video:


  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help:

Email, or make an appointment with a librarian.  We’re happy to help you find good sources.

Authority and Conversation

Scholarly Conversation - West Virginia University

Scholarly Authority - Secondary Sources

Scholarly Authority

A. Author

  1. What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation (where he or she works), educational background, past writings, or experience? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise? 
  2. Has your instructor mentioned this author? Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars. 
  3. Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization? 

B. Date of Publication

When was the source published? How have the ideas about your topic changed over time?

C. Book Publisher

If the source is published by a university press, it is likely to be scholarly. Although the fact that the publisher is reputable does not necessarily guarantee quality, it does show that the publisher may have high regard for the source being published.

D. Title of Journal

Is this a scholarly or a popular journal? This distinction is important because it indicates different levels of complexity in conveying ideas.  If it is scholarly, is the journal peer-reviewed? 


Adapted from Cornell University's Critically Analyzing Information Sources: Critical Appraisal
and Analysis

Citing & Annotated Bibliographies

Zotero: The Tri-College Libraries recommend Zotero, a free online app that can format your bibliography, keep your citations organized, and even save your articles in the cloud so you can access them later.

Need help getting started? TriCo Guide to Zotero

Example - Annotated Bibliography


Sample MLA Style Annotation from the Purdue Owl.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.
In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.


More Article Databases


Additional article databases