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American Literature 2: Early 19th Century - 21st Century: Research Help

Searching Basics

The library's online catalog is known as WorldCat.

Here you can search for printed books and journals available in the library's collection. You can also search for eBooks, eJournals, and other media available to WVU Tech.

Keyword Searches

This is a broad search. You will get many results - maybe too many and not-so precise. But this basic search can help in another way. You will see different types of resources in the results, such as, reviews, criticism, biographies, cyclopedias, and other helpful resources.

Title Searches

This is a more refined search if you happen to know the title, parts of a title, or want to search for key terms that may be found in a title.. This type of search strategy will retrieve a matching record and identify the available format and copy held in the library.

Author Searches

If you are doing research on the works of a particular author, you will want to do an author search. The most common search strategy is to place the author's last name first followed by his/her first name. Example: Bronte, Emily. Some newer systems allow for natural order of a person' s name such as Emily Bronte.

Some authors used pseudonyms, so you'll need to include that in your search.

Subject Searches

This type of search can help you identify relevant results. Cataloged items (book, journal) have records that contain subject headings. These subject headings describe the primary subjects of a work, as well, as secondary subjects. Often the record includes other entries associated with the book such as the author's name, geographical location, time period, or other significant topics.

Searching Tips: Finding Books and Articles

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.

First, try a simple keyword search such as American Poets. 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: Edgar Allen Poe AND Purloined Letter AND criticism

To broaden your search use OR with synonymous or related words.Example: Narrative OR Plot - the database will produce results to include one result or the other 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: short story NOT novel . The word Novel 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.

Search Terms

  • Transcendentalism
  • American poetry
  • Imagism
  • Realism
  • Regionalism
  • Naturalism
  • Beatniks
  • Modernism
  • American Renaissance
  • Dark Romanticism
  • Individualism
  • Depression-era
  • Contemporary

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Books on the following subclasses in American Literature can be found in the following ranges:

Subclass PS

PS1-3626                     American literature   

PS126-138                              Biography, memoirs, letters, etc.
PS147-152                              Women authors
PS163-173                              Treatment of special subjects, classes
PS185-231                              By period
PS185-195                                          17th-18th centuries
PS201-217                                          19th century
PS221-228                                          20th century
PS229-231                                          21st century
PS241-286                              Special regions, states, etc.
PS241-255                                          North
PS261-267                                          South
PS271-285                                          West and Central
PS301-326                              Poetry
PS330-353                              Drama
PS360-380                              Prose
PS370-380                                          Prose fiction
PS400-408.2                           Oratory
PS409                                      Diaries
PS410-419                              Letters
PS420-429                              Essays
PS430-439                              Wit and humor. Satire
PS(451)-478                            Folk literature
PS490                                      Juvenile literature (General)
PS501-689                              Collections of American literature
PS530-536.3                                       By period
PS537-574                                          By region
PS538-549                                                      North
PS551-559                                                      South
PS561-572                                                      West and Central
PS580-619                                          Poetry
PS593                                                              By form
PS601-617                                                      By period
PS623-(635)                                        Drama
PS642-659.5                                       Prose (General)
PS651-659.2                                                   By period
PS660-668.2                                       Oratory
PS666-668.2                                                   By period
PS669                                                  Diaries
PS670-678.2                                       Letters
PS680-689                                          Essays
PS700-3576                            Individual authors
PS700-893                                          Colonial period (17th and 18th centuries)
PS991-(3390)                                      19th century
PS3500-3549                                      1900-1960
PS3550-3576                                      1961-2000
PS3600-3626                                      2001-