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African-American Literature: Research Help

Welcome to the WVU Tech African-American Literature guide. This guide shares available resources to help you locate information relevant to studies in African-American literature.

Searching Tips

To find books, articles and ejournals search the library's online catalog WorldCat or search Databases. Please check with librarians to see if any journals or magazines are held in the library.

Full-text Databases: refers to electronic resources with access to the complete text of articles in journals, books, newspapers, theses, dissertations, and more. Illustrations, graphs, charts, and images may be included.

Search Tips:

First, try a simple keyword search such as Harlem Renaissance. Keyword searches produce a large amount of results. This type of search is broad and less precise. Fortunately, most online catalogs and databases have features to help you refine your search terms. Refinement features may include author, year, format, content, audience, or sub-topics.

Creating a search strategy:

Next, try Boolean searching. This type of searching allows you to combine keywords using operators AND, OR, and NOT. 

To narrow your results use AND with two or more concepts. Example: “abolition AND slave narratives” Results will include both terms.

To broaden your search use OR with synonymous or related words or phrases. Example:  "urban fiction" Or "street fiction" - This type of search expands the search so that you have one result or both.

Sometimes one of your search terms may produce a list of results that includes articles that are not relevant to your topic. Using the operator NOT eliminates words from your search and reduces the number of results. Example:  novelists NOT playwrights. The word playwrights will be excluded from the search. 

Full-text Databases: refers to electronic resources with access to the complete text of articles in journals, books, newspapers, theses, dissertations, and more. Illustrations, graphs, charts, and images may be included..

Finding a Topic

Finding a topic can be the hardest part of getting started with your research assignment. Fortunately, some resources can help you with finding topics or getting ideas. Here are two examples:

Themes in African-American Literature

  • African-American Culture
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Religion
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Poetry
  • Slave narratives
  • Slavery