Purpose: To support student and faculty research in the WCC’s English Department.
Basics: The Value of Studying Literature
- Stories have power. Reading and understanding literature is the study—at once communal and intensely personal—of the human condition.
- We see through the eyes of people who transcend space, time, and country to create a world that resonates somehow with our own.
- Effectively, reading (and writing) becomes the gateway to a deeper level of thought.
How does this fit into my life?
Better understand our reality.
The inspiring truth in fiction.
In-Person Writing Support
Writing Center “readers” and student-writers talk—about an assignment, possible topics, the writer’s views and experiences, writing for college, how to cite sources, any subject related to writing. Bring up your challenges and problems. The writer’s goals and interests determine the direction a session will take.
Start by Exploring Your Topic
Tutorial: Choosing a Topic
- The best topics are ones that emerge as you read the piece of literature. Here are some ways to approach your choice of topic:
- Explore gender roles.
- Compare genres.
- Compare/contrast characters, events, or between two novels.
- Analyze specific recurring metaphor, allusion, or symbolism.
- A particular political or philosophical framework
- Historical background: study the social, political or economical context in which a work was written. How does context influence the work?
Find Scholarly Sources
Literature (Gale): Literary criticism. Includes biographies of authors, composers, and artists.
MLA “International Bibliography”: An index of books, articles and websites covering modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. Abstract-only: useful for vetting ILL possibilities. From the Modern Language Association.
ProQuest “Literature & Language”: This resource includes publications on literature and language covering topics such as English, American Literature, World Literatures, and Linguistics.
- For books *about* an author—advanced search, author name in subject field.
- For books *by* an author—advanced search, author name in author field; or book title in quotes. If not finding—keyword (anthology, chapter).
- For an overview, use “reference entry” limiter—via OneSearch or DBs like Britannica Academic.
- If you are not finding sources, give full play to your use of synonyms.
Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes)
(print Ref PE 1625 .O87 1989)
Literary Reference Books
Devices, Terms, Symbols
- A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z (Dupriez, Bernard Marie, Halsall, A. W., 1991)
Explore allegory, connotation, denotation, diction, figurative language, imagery, meter, speaker, structure, symbolism, or tone! For some 4000 terms, find resources from a wide range of thought-disciplines.
- Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (print Ref PN 44.5 .B35 2008)
- Benét’s Reader’s Encyclopedia (print Ref PN 41 .B4 1996)
- The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (online)
- A Dictionary of Literary Symbols (online and print Ref PN 56 .S9 F47 2007)
- Critical Terms for Literary Study (online and print Stacks PN 81 .C84 1995)
- The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (print Ref PN 81 .J554 2005)
- Literature and Its Times: profiles of 300 literary works and the historical events that influenced them (print Ref PN 50 .L574 1997)
“Elements of a Novel” (Britannica Academic)Booker, Christopher, The Seven Basic Plots: why we tell stories (print Stacks PN 3378 .B65 2004) Frederick Ruffner, Jr, Laurence Urdang, Ruffner’s Allusions (print Ref PN 43 .A4 2010)
Reading With Purpose
Also described as critical reading, active reading, close reading.
Patricia Kain, How To Do a Close Reading. Harvard Coll. Writing Center 1998 A direct, three-step process to develop a close reading strategy.
Adler, Mortimer J., How to Read a Book: the classic guide to intelligent reading. (print Stacks PN 83 .A43 1940a) Transform your reading from passive to active: puzzle out the important words, remember, explain, and discover meaning as you read. Re-read. And take notes.
Writing in Specialized Genres
- (Creating) The Annotated Bibliography (Cornell University)
- (Writing) Literature Reviews (U of N Carolina)
- Writing Literary Analysis (Purdue Online Writing Lab)
Additional Web Resources
- Writing for Success Provides instruction in steps, builds writing, reading, and critical thinking skills, and combines comprehensive grammar review with an introduction to paragraph writing and composition. University of Minnesota.
- Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence A friendly, down-to-earth introduction to academic professors’ goals and expectations, demystifying academic norms, and how to shape college writing assignments. State Univ of New York.
- Writing Commons Open resource for students and faculty: entries on topics like citations, quoting, literary analysis, point of view, rhetoric, formatting, conclusions, and so on. Joe Moxley, Univ. S Florida, founder.
- About Writing (Revised Edition) Condenses and covers everything a beginning writing student needs to successfully compose college-level work, including the basics of composition, grammar, and research. OpenOregon.
- EmpoWord: A Student-Centered Anthology & Handbook for College Writers Shane Abrams, Portland State University.
Browse and Listen
Browsing the Stacks
PN 400-500 Authors, Writers
PN 1600-3307—Drama, incl. theatre and film
PQ—French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese lit (romance lang)
Myslewski, Lee Anne, ed., The Lost Art of Browsing (blog: Indirect Routes, 2015)
Browse print journals!
Literary magazines include The Atlantic, Film Comment, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and The Drama Review.
EBSCO Audiobooks: Listen to books right in your browser.
Librivox: Volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, (pre 1925).
Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence A friendly, down-to-earth introduction to academic professors’ goals and expectations, demystifying the norms of the academy, and shaping college writing assignments. (PDF, ebook, 2016) [Amy Guptill, SUNY OER]
Teaching Literary Analysis
OpenLearn Free learning from the Open University. Search Approaching prose fiction, How to be a critical reader, and other topics.
Purdue Online Writing Lab Search Writing in literature, Writing about fiction, Literary terms, Close reading a text, Common assignments, and Avoiding pitfalls.
WCC’s English Department offers a wide range of literature courses, from introductory surveys to in-depth analysis of special topics. Many other areas of study, such as film studies, drama, history, languages, communications, philosophy, global studies, diversity, and sustainability, also draw on aspects of literature.
These resources are listed by Genre, Region, and Group. To expand a list, click + . To collapse it, click – .