It's useful when you are first reading a new author to take a look at background information sources on the literary culture s/he was writing from. The online sources listed below will give you reliable and authoritative information on specific authors, genres, or terms and movements in literature. Spending time with these as you start reading will repay itself in a better understanding of what you are reading.
Researching literary criticism will require using professional tools. This guide introduces you to two of these professional search tools:
Take a moment to review the tutorial below on two key search features in the MLAIB that will increase the effectiveness of your searches in that database.
When you want to focus on a specific piece of literature use the tag Primary Subject Work in the MLA Bibliography. This option is in the "Select a field" box in the MLA International Bibliography online. Using this feature also bypasses any variation in spelling in the article title itself - is it Fairy Queen, Faerie Queen, or Faerie Queene?
You can can see the way Primary Subject Work shows up in the MLA Bibliography entry below (in pink).
There is a similar box for Primary Subject Author useful for when you are looking for an author (Marie de France) as a subject of scholarly articles, rather than for what that person has written.
For authors with an extensive list of works, combine both the Primary Subject Author and Primary Subject Work to get very specific results.