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ENG 211: Introduction to Language & Literature: Continue Scholarly Conversation

What is Scholarly Conversation?

Any time you do research, you are joining a scholarly conversation. Scholarly conversation is the existing publications, conferences, online discussions, and more surrounding a particular topic. Most often when we talk about scholarly conversation, it refers to published material such as books, essay collections, or journal articles. For whatever research topic you choose to write about, there is already a scholarly conversation going on about that topic. Your job as the researcher is to enter into that conversation by doing research to find out what the scholars are saying. This will involve searching the NOBLE Catalog and Library Databases for books and articles. Then, you will lend your own voice to the conversation by crafting your own argument about the text. 

Finding Books

LC Classification Guide
Books on language and literature are located on Stacks 4 and 5 of the Library. Use the chart below to view where books on specific types of literature will be located. 

Stack 4

  • PE - English Language
  • PN - Literature History & Collection
  • PQ - French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese literature
  • PR - English Literature

Stack 5

  • PS - American Literature
  • PT - German Literature

Finding Scholarly Articles

Jenks Library has a number of library databases available to help you find scholarly journal articles related to your topic. When searching in databases, especially language and literature subject database like the ones listed below, often two good keywords to start with are the author's name and the title of the text you are studying. 

Use What You Have

As you start to gather secondary source material on your topic, use that information to help locate more sources that may be relevant to your argument. Bibliographies and Works Cited pages can tell you a lot about the existing scholarly conversation surrounding the particular author and text you are studying.

When looking at the sources authors' used to help craft their argument pay attention to two things:

  • What perspective is this source bringing to the interpretation of the text? Does the author use a mixture of literary criticism, theory, historical context information, etc. to build his/her argument? What other sources might you incorporate into your research to help craft your argument? 
  • Are there a few sources that were cited multiple times by different authors? If yes, that is probably a source that you'll want to track down and at least skim through to see if it is relevant for your topic!

Google Scholar is a great resource for citation tracking, or seeing what other resources (articles or books) have cited a particular scholarly source. If you're curious, type the name of a journal article into Google Scholar and then look for the "Cited by" or "Related articles" link below the brief description to connect you to sources that either cited this article in their own work or are related. 

Other Databases

In addition to the above subject specific databases, the multi-disciplinary databases listed below also contains scholarly articles on topics in language and literature. 

Criticism Collections You Should Know

Cambridge Companions
Cambridge Companions are often published for specific authors (such as Shakespeare, John Keats, and Jane Austen) or literary periods or movements. They contain collections of essays written for the student researcher. They provide a systematic critical account of the author, topic, or period. 

Find Cambridge Companions within Jenks Library by doing a series search for "Cambridge Companions to literature" in the NOBLE Catalog.


Norton Critical Editions
Norton Critical Editions provide biographical sketches of the author, the text itself, a collection of critical essays, and a selected bibliography of additional resources all in one attractive volume! This series is a staple for any English major. 

Find Norton Critical Editions within Jenks Library by doing a series search for "Norton Critical Edition" in the NOBLE Catalog.