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[FAS] Expos 20: Gothic Fiction   Tags: course_guides, expos, first year, gothic, poe  

Resources and strategies to help with Essay 3
Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts
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Have questions about your sources for Essay 3? Contact me:

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont Library, Room 210

If you have general questions about library resources, people, or services, try them first in the search box below.  We're building a knowledge base of FAQs. The answer you're after may be already there!


Poe in Pictures

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849); carte-de-visite. Harvard Fine Arts Library, Special Collections. Image available in HOLLIS

"Cask of Amontillado," illustrated by Arthur Rachkam, from Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1935).

"Vision: Berenice's Teeth" (n.d.); charcoal drawing by Odilon Redon (1840-1916). Image available in ArtStor


"Fall of the House of Usher" (1946); illustration by E. McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954). Image available in ArtStor


About this guide

This resource guide has been designed for students in the Spring 2014 sections of Gothic FIction, taught by Michele Martinez and Pat Bellanca.  

Tools of the Trade (linked from the Harvard Guide to Using Sources and also available below) is the College Library's "starter kit" for first year students. This e-text is meant to furnish you with a broad understanding of Harvard's research environment and some of the ways to navigate effectively within it. We suggest you read through it as preparation for the work you're about to undertake.

The other resources and strategies described briefly on this page are more specifically targeted. They represent our first best guesses at where you might find the information you'll need to execute Essay 3 successfully. See them as starting points for your research into Poe's short stories, but recognize that you may need to reach beyond them, especially if your topic has an interdiscipinary bent.  And remember: good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out hypotheses and then seeing where else (or to what else) they may lead you. 

Enjoy the adventure! 




Searching HOLLIS for Background Information and Literary Criticism

The HOLLIS catalog will be a veritable treasure trove of materials on both Poe and the Gothic.  It's also a great place for locating contextual information: on 19th century history, literature, cultural and social contexts.


Tips for turning up secondary source materials on authors and their works

  • Try adding words like  companion; handbook; introduction; collected (or collection) to your search for Poe. These kinds of texts will often summarize and synthesize major critical trends and approaches and can help you find direction at an early stage of your research.

          Example: The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe        

  • Try adding the name of the short story or stories you're exploring to your search.  You may turn up a book length study this way, but more likely, you'll identify chapters within a larger work or essays within published collections of research.
  • For scholarly studies, try adding the phrase criticism and interpretation.
  • If your interest is in how Poe has been translated onto stage or screen or how his person and his characters were reinterpreted by other writers, try poe adaptations.
  • A biographical study on Poe might supply you with interesting details and important supplementary contexts (what was happening to Poeor happening around him as he wrote a particular story, for example, or how readers reacted to his stories when they first appeared).

          To see titles that will turn up, click here:  edgar allan poe biography

  • Try adding words that identify the aspect of the author you're investigating: psychology or psychoanalysis, or Freud for example; women or gender; insanity or mental; gothic or supernatural or horror, etc. 


Tips for turning up secondary source materials on the social, cultural, and historical milieux of authors of Gothic:

  • Use language clearly and strategically to describe your research interests.  Sometimes you'll need to go broader.  Remember that even a a study that doesn't explicity have "Poe" in its title or the name of your story in its table of contents could be worth having a look at and might actually be relevant to your research needs.
Say you're exploring American attitudes to mental illness in the 1800s and treatment options. You might construct a HOLLIS search string like this one: mental illness united states history OR  mental illness 19th history (19th will pick up "19th century" in descriptions of the items in our catalog).

Remember to leverage what you have already and build on what you know:  

Books you find on reserve reading lists and and that your instructor recommends become leads to other items. So do the bibliographies and footnotes you encounter in these books.  Put the title (or the author or some combination of author and title) in the HOLLIS catalog and then zero in on its subject headings (the tags we attach to HOLLIS records, describing the intellectual content of a library item).  Subject headings will link you to related items.


Sampling scholarly conversations about Poe

Literary Analysis and Criticism:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) International Bibliography: this e-resource is considered the premier database for uncovering the published research in literary studies, literary theory, language and linguistics.  Because English departments are also a "home" for popular culture topics and visual media studies, you can expect films to be covered very generously in this database.
  • LION (Literature Online): considered the English "cousin" or counterpart to the U.S. produced MLA, LION provides an entry point to a whole body of secondary source literary criticism, including that published in important and widely-read scholarly journal. Much of the material in LION is available in full-text. Much of it will also show up if you search the MLA. However, LION covers a few key sources that aren't in the MLA ,so  it's sometimes prudent to try your search in both of these resources, even while knowing that there's considerable overlap.


For broader searching:

  • Academic Search Premier (one of the essential library e-resources profiled in Tools of the Trade, above), this e-resource will be a good launching pad for sampling scholarly discussions of the issues you'll be grappling with in Essay 3.  Its coverage is broad (some newspaper and magazine articles might surface in your search, too) and it's multidisciplinary (so there's a little something on all sorts of subjects from anthropology to zoology).



Related Research Guides

  • Humanities E-100: Gothic Fiction (Summer 2013): Within this guide is a sampling of 19th century newspapers and periodicals -- one type of primary source, but by no means the only kind.  For more suggestions, ask!
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online: Edgar Allan Poe: a professionally produced, authoritative, annotated bibliography on Poe. When you're not sure what will help, where to start, or whose worth reading, guides like these can help you make judicious choices.


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