Reference sources, whether in print or digital format, are useful for giving you an overview of your topic, with biographies of individuals and facts about historical events, cultural and artistic trends, and places. Articles in reference sources often recommend a few scholarly books to consult for more details. Here are a few print reference sources that should be useful:
Here are some online reference sources that will likely have information about your topic:
Each book owned by the UCSD Library is listed in UC Library Search by its title, its author, and one or more subject headings, which allow you to find all of the books on a topic without the hit-or-miss approach that keyword searching relies on.
Books about a particular writer and his or her work are listed under the person's name, last name first. Before typing the name, change the term "Keyword" to "Subject." Examples:
The name is frequently followed by words that describe in more detail what aspect of the author's work the book is about. Examples:
By far, the most important "sub-heading" for finding critical overviews and studies of the writer's work is "Criticism and Interpretation":
If a critical book is entirely or primarily about one particular work by the author, the name of the work is used as a sub-heading, for example:
However, remember that there may be excellent but smaller sections of other critical books that also critique the work, so scroll through all the books the Library owns about a writer to see the books that may be relevant to your topic.
There are many subject headings that might be used for finding background or contextual information about the Victorian period, but the most likely one is:
The primary database for discovering scholarly articles, along with many books and individual book chapters, in the field of literature is the Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLAIB). Although the database itself has very few full texts of articles, each citation in your results has a link to any full text licensed by the UCSD Library or to Roger, for determining if the Library has the source in print format.
The most basic way to search for criticism on a particular work of literature is to place the author's name (usually just surname) in one row (changing "Anywhere" to "Author as Subject") and the title of the work in the second row (changing "Anywhere" to "Author's Work"). An additional row can be added to search for such keywords as "imagery," "gender" or "woman," or "epic" and keeping "Anywhere." For example, as of February 21, 2016, entering "Browning," "Aurora Leigh," and "image*" (truncating for "images" and "imagery") results in nine relevant sources.
Constructing searches, interpreting the results, and using the links to find the complete texts will be covered in the library session on February 17.
Other databases to try. Since JSTOR and Project Muse search the full text of the journal articles, they may be particularly helpful if you are having trouble finding articles about your poem.