American Literature: Print & Web Resources

Walt Whitman                                               

IC Library Print & Multimedia

Individual Authors: Books About

      Begin by running a Subject search on your author.  For example, a Subject search on Morrison, Toni in the IC Library catalog retrieves--

# Titles  Headings  
 1       Morrison, Toni.   
 2       Morrison, Toni. Beloved.    
 1       Morrison, Toni--Characters--Mothers.   
 10     Morrison, Toni--Criticism and interpretation.   
 1       Morrison, Toni--Interviews.   
 1       Morrison, Toni--Knowledge--Psychology.   
 1       Morrison, Toni--Musical settings.    
 4       Morrison, Toni--Political and social views.   
 1       Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon.    
 2       Morrison, Toni. Sula.   
 1       Morrison, Toni--Symbolism

Note that general criticism will be assigned the subheading "History and Criticism."  Also note that critical studies of a single work will take the title as a subheading.

Individual Authors: Books By

     Since you will already have the texts you are writing about, running an Author search might seem unnecessary. But Author searches often uncover collections of letters, essays, and non-fiction works that shed light on both the writer and the work. An Author search on Morrison, Toni retrieves--

Morrison, Toni Beloved [videorecording] / directed by Jonathan Demme
Morrison, Toni Bluest eye / Toni Morrison ; with a new afterword by the author.
Morrison, Toni Jazz : a novel / Toni Morrison ; [with a new foreword by the author]. 2004
Morrison, Toni Lecture and speech of acceptance, upon the award of the Nobel prize for literature.
Morrison, Toni Nobel lecture in literature [sound recording] / by Toni Morrison. 1994
Morrison, Toni Playing in the dark : whiteness and the literary imagination /
Morrison, Toni Race-ing justice, en-gendering power : essays /
Morrison, Toni Birth of a nation'hood : gaze, script, and spectacle in the O.J. Simpson case / edited by Toni Morrison
Morrison, Toni Burn this book : PEN writers speak out on the power of the word / edited by Toni Morrison.
Morrison, Toni Remember : the journey to school integration / Toni Morrison. 2004
Morrison, Toni Toni Morrison [videorecording] / Roland Collection, ICA Video. 1980  

Approaches to American Literature

          By Period:
American literature--History and criticism
American literature--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775--History and criticism
American literature--Revolutionary period, 1775-1783--History and criticism
American literature--1783-1850--History and criticism
American literature--19th century--History and criticism
American literature--20th century--History and criticism
American literature--21st century--History and criticism

          By Genre:

Historical fiction, American--History and criticism
American fiction--History and criticism
American fiction--18th century--History and criticism
American fiction--19th century--History and criticism
American fiction--20th century--History and criticism
Short stories, American--History and criticism
American poetry--History and criticism
American poetry--19th century--History and criticism
American poetry--20th century--History and criticism
American drama--History and criticism
American drama--20th century--History and criticism
American prose literature--History and criticism
American prose literature--19th century--History and criticism
American prose literature--20th century--History and criticism
     [Note: "prose literature" includes journalism, autobiography, biography, and travel writing]
Christian literature, American--History and criticism
American essays--History and criticism
Detective and mystery stories, American--History and criticism
Horror tales, American--History and criticism
Science fiction, American--History and criticism
Fantasy fiction, American--History and criticism
Children\'s literature, American--History and criticism
Satire, American--History and criticism
American periodicals--History

          By Category of Author:

          By Region:
Criticism, Textual
Literature--History and criticism--Theory, etc.
Puritan movements in literature
Romanticism--United States
Gothic revival (Literature)--United States
Realism in literature
Naturalism in literature
Regionalism in literature
Local color in literature
Imagist poetry--History and criticism
Harlem Renaissance.
Psychoanalysis and literature
Marxist criticism
Formalism (Literary analysis)
Modernism (Literature)
Modernism (Literature)--United States
Agrarians (Group of writers)
New Criticism
Absurd (Philosophy) in literature
Existentialism in literature
Beat generation
Popular culture--Philosophy
Popular culture in literature
Feminist criticism
Reader-response criticism
Structuralism (Literary analysis)
Semiotics and literature
Historicism  [includes New Historicism]
Materialism in literature  [Cultural Materialism]
Magic realism (Literature)
Queer theory
Postmodernism (Literature)
Postmodernism (Literature)--United States
Postcolonialism in literature

Cultural Context of Amerian Literature

     Below are some standard Subject searches for this kind of information and a sampling of the particular topics you can target.

National characteristics, American

United States--Civilization
United States--Civilization--To 1783
United States--Civilization--19th century
United States--Civilization--1783-1865
United States--Civilization--1865-1918
United States--Civilization--20th century
United States--Civilization--1918-1945
United States--Civilization--1945-
United States--Civilization--1970-

United States--Intellectual life
United States--Religion
Philosophy, American
Philosophy, American--19th century
Transcendentalism (New England)
Philosophy, American--20th century

United States--Social conditions
United States--Social conditions--To 1865
United States--Social conditions--1865-1918
United States--Social conditions--1918-1932
United States--Social conditions--1933-1945
United States--Social conditions--1945-
United States--Social conditions--1960-
United States--Social conditions--1980-

United States--Social life and customs
United States--Social life and customs--To 1775
United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865
United States--Social life and customs--1865-1918
United States--Social life and customs--1918-1945
United States--Social life and customs--1945-1970
United States--Social life and customs--1971-

United States--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
Indians of North America--History
Puritans--New England
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--History--1783-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--1865-1898
United States--History--20th century
World War, 1914-1918--United States
Nineteen twenties
Depressions--1929--United States
World War, 1939-1945--United States
United States--History--1945-
Cold War
Nineteen sixties
War on Terrorism, 2001-

United States--Economic conditions--To 1865
United States--Economic conditions--1865-1918
United States--Economic conditions--1918-1945
United States--Economic conditions--1945-

Popular culture--United States--History--18th century
Popular culture--United States--History--19th century
Popular culture--United States--History--20th century

Marriage--United States--History
Women--United States--History
Women--United States--History--18th century
Women--United States--History--19th century
Women--United States--History--20th century
Feminism--United States

Not in the IC Library?

     WorldCat via FirstSearch  is a "union catalog" that allows you to search the holdings of over 10,000 libraries from accross the country and around the world. Check WorldCat to discover what the entire universe of possible resources looks like for your topic. 
User Advisory:
  • Because this is such an enormous database you need to choose a "Limit Type to" before you begin. Most commonly you will be looking for "Books," "Visual Materials" (for example DVDs), or "Sound Recordings."
  • I recommend you avoid the "Author phrase," "Title phrase," and "Subject phrase" search fields and use "Author," "Title," or "Subject" instead. The "phrase" searches must be exact and are unforgiving.
  • If your topic is time-sensitive, try focusing on a recent time span under Year.
  • When you find an item you want you can request an interlibrary loan by opening the WorldCat record and clicking on "ILL (order via interlibrary loan)," which you'll find toward the top of the record under "External Resources." This will connect you to Ithaca College Library interlibrary loan, where you log in using your usual Netpass name and password. Logging in opens a form where all the identifying data will have automatically been transferred from the WorldCat record. All you have to do is click "Submit."

Contact Us

picture of Lisabeth Chabot

Lisabeth Chabot

College Librarian
(607) 274-3182

Literary Research Guide

The IC Library has an online subscription to the MLA's Literary Research Guide.  Log-in (IC e-mail user name and password) is required.

Web Resources

Selected Gateway Sites

  • Voice of the Shuttle: American Literature:  For many this is still the gold-standard of gateway sites, though the sprawl of listed links requires careful scanning.  There is a  Minority Literatures section, with links to subsections on African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American, and Jewish American literatures. There is also a set of links for  Literary Theory on the Web.
  • American Authors on the Web:  Also from WSU, this is a good gateway to sites concerned with individual writers.  Authors are listed by time period, so use the date ranges at the top to navigate.
  • Literary Resources: American: from Jack Lynch at Rutgers, this is a handy gateway site, though you must scroll for the subject categories.

Selected Author & Topic Sites

  • James Fenimore Cooper Society: See esepcially "Articles & Papers about Cooper" and note that you can browse by "Cooper Title" or "Major Subject."
  • Poe Webliography:  Thorough, if not well organized. Begin with "Starting Sites" and "Literary Guides" under Navigation Bar.
  • Web of American Transcendentalism: An excellent gateway to materials on the movement and the individual writers associated with it: Emerson, Thoreau, the Channings, Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker, and Bronson Alcott. For more on Emerson and Thoreau, try theTranscendentalists site: click on the "Ralph Waldo Emerson" or "Henry David Thoreau" and look at "Emerson: Analysis" or "Thoreau: Analysis." 
  • Domestic Goddesses: A good site for Web resources on 19th century American women writers, including Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Edith Wharton.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: Scroll down past the works and the "new" links for the categorized Hawthorne resources.
  • Life and Works of Herman Melville: This hasn't been updated for ten years and many links are dead, but there is no better site to substitute and certain features such as the "publishing history, excerpts, contemporary reviews" for each of Melville's works are valuable .
  • Mark Twain in His Times: From the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia, this is a remarkable resource on Twain and his works, including how he composed, revised, and marketed them.
  • Robert Frost: Basic biographical resources and a good selection of commentary on the poems.
  • T.S. Eliot: A good cross-section of criticism on the major poems.
  • Virtual Hemingway: from the Hemingway Society, and you can only link into it from the Society's home page, so find the link on the left.  This is probably the most comprehensive set of links for online resources.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary: Created at the University of South Carolina for Fitzgerald's centenary in 1996, this site has not been updated in years, but the resources are still useful.
  • Sylvia Plath: A sampling of criticism on the major poems. Among the personal tribute sites Plath inspires, the Sylvia Plath Homepage is notable for its ample linked criticism.
  • Anniina's Toni Morrison Page: A handy selection of criticism on the novels. Headings in the site's table of contents are not links but the tiny icons preceding them are.
  • Don DeLillo's America: Probably the best DeLillo site--scroll down to the content categories and poke around.

E-Books on the Web

Note: Most books freely available on the Web are out of copyright--some works from the early 20th century and potentially anything written earlier.  For full text e-books still under copyright, check the IC Library database Ebook Central (formerly ebrary) .

  • Google Books: Advanced Search: If you're looking for full-text books, be sure to use the Advanced controls here to limit your Search to "full view only"  and your Content to "books."  Note the availability of Title, Author, and Subject searching.
  • Online Books Page: Over 35,000 full-texts, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
  • Take advantage of the links here to limit your search to Reference, Verse, Fiction, or Nonfiction.  Note that you can also browse indexes of Authors, Subjects, and Titles. 

Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.