Skip to main content

English: English 403

Library Quick Links


On your syllabus, Professor Barta-Smith recommends PMLA as a source for critical articles and "new directions" in criticism.  

  • She has placed the last ten years' worth of issues on reserve at the Circulation desk in Bailey library.  
  • Recent issues may also be browsed in the new periodicals section (the low shelves against the wall in the main room on the first floor of the library).  Most recent issue is displayed; lift the shelf to see other issues.  
  • JSTOR has full text up to five years ago, and indexes up to one year ago.  
  • MLA International Bibliography indexes it up to the present (but contains no full text).  You can use this database to search for articles you're interested in, and then read them in the print copies on reserve.  

Your Assignment

This gudie relates to the Case Study assignment in Nancy Barta-Smith's Literary and Cultural Theory class.  For this assignment, you are asked to choose a work or cultural object, and locate at least five recent, crtical articles about it, representing a range of theoretical approaches.  As Dr. Barta-Smith notes, you will need to skim, or at least read abstracts for, many more than five articles in order to select the five that you will use in your project.  

Recommended Databases

The following databases are good places to look for literary or cultural criticism.  

But what theoretical approach does my article use?

As you may have noticed, articles of literary criticism are often not labeled with their theoretical approach.  In many cases, you will need to read the article and figure out which approach or approaches it uses.  However, as you near the end of the article-selecting phase of this assignment, you may find the need to locate an article that “covers” a theory you don’t have yet pressing in upon you.  Here’s what I suggest:

  • Searching the work title plus the name of a theoretical approach is worth a shot.  If that doesn't work, don’t despair!
  • Next, try searching the work title plus a key term or concept from that approach.  For instance, if you want Marxist theory, use “proletarian” or “class struggle.”  For reader-response criticism, “interpretive community” or “making meaning” might work.
  •  You will need to experiment with different terms/concepts.  Think about which terms or concepts from the theoretical approach best apply to the work you are studying.
  •  To come up with key terms, try consulting your textbook or brainstorming with a classmate.
  • Another way to find terms/concepts is to use a specialized dictionary.  For instance, the Oxford Dictionary of Critical Theory has paragraph-length definitions of different theories.  These aren’t as in-depth as what your textbook has, but since they’re short, the key terms jump out at you a little more.   Here’s how to access it:

                  1. Start from the alphabetical list of databases.

                  2. Click "Oxford Reference Online."

                  3. Type "critical theory" in the search box.

                  4. In your results, select the "books" tab.  

                  5. Click on the book title to search or browse within it.   

Subject Guide

Cassandra Frank's picture
Cassandra Frank
310 Bailey Library

Article Linker and ILLiad

Not all sources are full-text in every database; some databases, such as MLA International, focus on abstracting and indexing rather than providing full text.  Don't worry!  You can still read those articles.  Follow these steps:

1. Look for a link that says "check availablity."  

2. The SRU Article Linker will display.  It checks automatically to see if the full text is available in a different database.  If it is, you will see links to the article and the journal.  The links directly to the article do not always work.  If you get an error message, go to the journal instead, and navigate to the issue containing your article.

3. If no links to other databases appear, the next step checks the catalog to see if we have that journal in any format.  If you get a result, check the dates to see if our holdings include the issue you need.  

4. If we not not own the journal, click "interlibrary loan form" under step 3. 

5. Log in to ILLiad with your SRU email address and password.

6.  If you have never used it before, fill out the contact information form.

7. The next screen will be the journal article request form.  If you came in through the Article Linker, it will be filled out for you.  

8.  Click "Submit Request."

You will recieve an email notification when your article arrives.  Articles are scanned and delivered electronically, so the process takes only a few days.  There is no charge to you for interlibrary loan.