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ENGL 347: Gothic America: Secondary Sources

Best Practices for Identifying Scholarly Secondary Sources

1. Start with the information provided in tertiary sources!

  • Look up specific titles of books in Primo, or journal titles (not article titles) in Primo Journal Search.
  • Use the vocabulary in the subject encyclopedia entries as search terms in databases.

2. Mine the bibliographies in other secondary sources. You may find one secondary source that is not quite right for your project; however, it may cite another scholarly source that would be just right!

3. When searching Primo or a database, pay attention to the subject headings in your results. You can use the vocabulary or click to do a new search for that heading. You'll be surprised at what you discover this way! 

4. Select the best sources, not just the most convenient sources. This may mean requesting a book from SUMMIT and/or an article from interlibrary loan, both of which take about two to five days to arrive.

Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

Collins Library, like most academic libraries in the United States, uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the content of books. 

You only need to be an observant user of Primo -- not an expert in the use of subject headings -- to make them work for you. Availing yourself of frequently used subject headings will help you locate secondary sources easily. Use subject headings to search for resources related to a specific author or work, in addition to literary themes or movements, genres, and/or critical approaches.

Here are several examples, centered on Gothic America, of the various ways you can use LCSH to help pinpoint what you need:

Jackson, Shirley, 1916-1965 -- Criticism and interpretation

Gothic fiction (literary genre), American -- History and criticism

Gothic revival (Literature)  -- United States

Gothic revival (Literature) -- United States -- History

Horror tales, American -- History and criticism

Ghosts in literature

Supernatural in literature

Featured Books

A sampling of potentially relevant books is listed below. 

Featured Journal: Gothic Studies

Gothic Studies is the official, refereed journal of the International Gothic Association and features content that considers the field of Gothic studies from the eighteenth century to the present day. The journal currently appears twice each year and publishes a mixture of general issues and guest-edited specials on a wide range of Gothic authors, periods and traditions.

Subject Databases

Key Resource

Need help navigating the MLA International Bibliography? View the following tutorials for in-depth explanations of MLAIB's search functionality:


Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases. 

E-Journal Collections

These e-journal collections provide access to many journals in the humanities, but they are more limited in coverage compared to subject databases. In most cases, it's better to search subject databases to identify articles, and then search the journal title in Primo to link to the materials in these e-journal collections.