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ENGL 431: Gothic America

Selecting Your Primary Source Material

Selecting your primary source text(s) is one of the most important decisions you will make as you undertake this research project. Try to give yourself sufficient time to explore multiple options. You will want to select a primary source that is rich and complex enough to allow for extended analysis and interpretation. Be aware that your research question may need to be reshaped as you analyze your primary sources and learn more about your topic.

The resources and strategies discussed on this page will help you identify relevant primary source material for your independent research.

Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles

Searching for Literary Works by Author/Title

Searching Primo for a novel or play, or for all the works by a specific author, is pretty straightforward:

Searching Primo for a specific poem or short story by a particular author is a bit trickier:

  • For poetry and short story collections published after about 1990, the tables of contents may be included in the cataloging record. You certainly can try to search by the title of the poem or short story, but if you don't find it that way, don't give up--try the steps below!
  • Try to find out the title of the collection in which the poem or short story was published and then search by that title. There are several strategies for finding such titles:
    • If the poem or short story was not published in a book-length collection or anthology, it probably was published in a literary magazine or other magazine that publishes fiction and poetry. To get the original source of the publication, you will need to consult an index.  Collins Library has old volumes of the Short Story Index (through 2004) as well as several poetry indexes in the print reference section.
    • If the short story or poem is no longer under copyright, try searching Google Books or Project Gutenberg for the full text.
    • Search the lists of publications by author in Literature Resource Center.

Search for Anthologies and Collections of Literary Works

To find anthologies of gothic fiction, try these subject headings in Primo:

Horror tales, American

Fear, literary collections

19th-century Periodical Literature

These resources include major journals that published poetry, short stories, and serialized novels, as well as reviews of literature and commentary on current events.

19th/20th-century Newspapers

Think of the major themes of your chosen gothic texts. Are these themes depicted in the daily or weekly press?