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HUMA E-100 | Domesticity in English and American Literature (Ciregna)


Overviews and Bibliographies


bookmark iconOxford Bibliographies Online

OBOs combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia  in order to help you identify some of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad social, political, cultural or interdisciplinary  topic. They're regularly updated to remain current.

Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but overabundance. OBO entries can help you solve the problem of knowing what or who to read or which voices in the conversation you should give some fuller attention to.

Examples of guides (literary and otherwise) that might be useful for current projects:

bookmark iconCambridge Companions Online 

A series produced by Cambridge  University Press, of accessible, authoritative essay collections, written by experts.  Article authors compile and synthesize the consensus thinking about writers, philosophers, artists, important concepts, and historical periods.

Sample volumes related to course projects:

Key Literary-Focused Databases


bookmark iconMLA International Bibliography

Produced under the auspices of the Modern Language Association, the major U.S. scholarly association for literature and literary-related fields, MLA  is the premier database for searching scholarship on literature from all periods, in all languages, in all its forms.  

bookmark iconLiterature Online

A leading online resource for the study and teaching of literature in English, it has three major components: primary sources (over 355,000 literary works), a database of literary criticism, and an online library of key reference resources.  

Scholarship and criticism in this database comes from ABELL (the Annual Bibliography of  English Language and Literature, the British "cousin" to the MLA).  Although there is significant overlap with MLA, ABELL does have some unique content and is usually worth checking.


Major Multidisciplinary Databases Beyond HOLLIS


bookmark icon​JSTOR

The first and still most widely known full-text journal database, trusted for its content.  JSTOR covers core  scholarly journals in 75 fields.  


Some of its content is open access and easily discoverable on the web; some is made available only because of your Harvard affiliation and the library's subscription to JSTOR


The most recent issues of journals may not even appear in a JSTOR search, however, if they are behind the database's 1-5 year "moving wall." 

bookmark iconGoogle Scholar: familiar and current; searches full-text which can be an advantage when you've got a very narrow topic or are seeking a "nugget" that traditional database searching can't surface easily. 


Google Scholar incorporates more types of information -- not just books and journal contents-- and depending on your need, comfort level, and perspective, that eclecticism can be an advantage.  

Google Scholar is perfectly acceptable for most general forays into scholarship; its algorithms are excellent and do return relevant results. 

It's also an excellent way to follow CITATION TRAILS. Enter the title of a book or journal article and then click on "Cited by" when the item appears.  If the cited references are very numerous, consider keyword searching with them.

bookmark iconProject Muse

Originally a collection of high quality journals published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, Project Muse now includes both journals and and books from non-profit scholarly publishers, including university presses and socieities. 

Muse is weighted heavily toward the humanities, though its coverage of the social sciences is also robust. 

Content is current, so unlike JSTOR, there is no moving wall to contend with.  In fact, recent issues of journal titles that are embargoed in JSTOR will sometimes be available for access in Project Muse

But there's substantial unique content in Muse, as well -- by some estimates, about 30% of the database -- and that makes double-checking it worthwhile when you do literary research.  

bookmark iconWorldCat 

A database of library catalogs (including Harvard's), WorldCat won't supply you with full-text content for any books it contains, so don't search it with that expectation.

its value will be in identifying where you can get closest geographical access to books and monographs, with research value to you, that aren't available digitally.

Using your IP address or a zipcode you enter, WorldCat will list university, research, and/or public library options in your immediate area -- or in the next closest place to where you are. 

When you're far from Harvard, this is one convenient way to track book-length studies down.

As long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of their website will clarify policy), you'll be set. 

Special Kinds of Resources: Building Your Toolkit

bookmark icon The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism

An indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. Compiled by 275 specialists from around the world, the Guide presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field's most important figures, schools, and movements and is updated annually.

bookmark iconOxford Reference Online 

A collection of several hundred digitized texts, some aimed to give you brief and succinct information.Many others provide in-depth, specialized, subject overviews. 

Consider this database an excellent, academically authoritative answer to the more general, everyday information needs that Wikipedia supplies.  Look here for explanations of people, events, concepts, theories, timelinees, quotations, definitions, and more. 



HOLLIS: Strategies for Searching Harvard's Infoscape



1.  Understand what HOLLIS is.

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 

When you search "everything"  -- the system default --  your results represent content from both databases together, at once.  You can make different choices, however before or after you execute a search, if you want to view "library catalog" content separately.

2. Know how to work HOLLIS.

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 



3. Take control of your HOLLIS results.

While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.

When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:

bookmark icon Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.

 bookmark icon Limit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 

bookmark icon  Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).



bookmark iconScan and Deliver

When an article you need is available in a print journal at Harvard but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  

NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.



When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.


bookmark icon WorldCatthis is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other  library collections that are in your vicinity.  Search for the title and then enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.

With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements.  However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!

bookmark icon Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area.  Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example). 

bookmark icon Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so).  ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the service. 

bookmark icon Borrow Direct Plus (Post COVID, TBD): currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member of this library consortium can obtain a card that allows access to the collections and privileges similar to those at Harvard libraries.  

Participating members: Brown U, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, U of Chicago, U Penn, Yale

bookmark icon If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there

Creating Citations and Organizing Sources


bookmark icon Zoteroa free, open source citation management tool will take the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page to the next level. 

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero.  A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here:


bookmark iconZoteroBib, a free citation generator, may be the answer for your E-25 paper. It lets you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software.  Some of its handy features are described on this page.

Follow Up with Me


Let me know if questions arise -- of any kind or at any point -- in your research project. We can triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom. 

Sue Gilroy