Building context (and recognizing when you need more context) is an important element in the research process. Tertiary sources, especially subject encyclopedias, are often the best place to start when you are trying to establish some basic historical, social, or cultural context.
Articles in subject encyclopedias are written by scholars who have deep specialization in the topic and the articles themselves go through a stringent editing process. These resources can help you with:
In Collins Library, the print reference collection is located on the main floor, and most of the online reference collection is available in one of the database collections listed below. Use Primo to identify subject encyclopedias in either format; or ask a librarian for recommendations.
**Remember that tertiary sources are intended to fill in gaps in your knowledge or jumpstart your research; they should not be cited as scholarly secondary sources for your project.
Cambridge Companions are a series of authoritative essay collections that synthesize the most important aspects of a topic. Each volume is edited by a leading scholar in the field and offers essays written by experts. Look for Companions on specific authors, genres, themes or movements, and time periods. The companions below are especially relevant for this course.
Each volume in the Literary Research series published by Scarecrow Press discusses resources for both primary and secondary research.
Not sure where to look? Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.