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University Library

GER 314: Literature of the German-Speaking World

Background Information



Search OneSearch for books, media, articles, primary sources, newspapers, journals, and more. Selecting CSU+ will allow you to search across all CSU libraries and request items we don't have.

You can search only for items published in German using Advanced Search

Subject Databases

Searching Literature Online

Literature Online is one of the best sources for criticism of literary works. It includes two indexes: MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) and the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL). 

When searching for criticism, select the Criticism menu at the top of the page. 

When searching for information about a particular author, make sure you search the Author as Subject field, NOT the Author field at the top of the search menu. 

Search the Author as Subject box lower down on the search screen, not the Author box at the top of the search screen.

Using Sources in Literary Research

One of the trickiest things about literary research is understanding how to use sources in addition to the text you're analyzing. There are a lot of different kids of sources to use, and ways that you can bring them into your analysis. 

One thing you may want to do is start by finding out if other people have written about your thesis ideas. If you believe that the novel you're reading is about the impossibility of love in a communist society, for example, you want to know if other people have written about the same themes. For this kind of research, you would turn to article databases. Don't despair if you can't find an article about your thesis. This is actually a good thing! It means that you have hit on an original idea. 

Another type of source is the literary dictionary. Literary dictionaries, like the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms or A Dictionary of Literary Symbols, may help you to interpret or understand the imagery, symbolism, and stylistic devices used in the piece you're analyzing. 

You may also want to read biographies of the author. Literary biographies can help you contextualize the piece, to understand the person who wrote it, the kind of life she lived, the time in which she wrote, and what might have influenced her ideas and thinking. Similarly, reading historical information about the time period when your piece was written can give you good contextual information for your analysis. 

When you're looking for sources, what you're trying to do is better understand the time and place when the piece was written, and the literary devices the author used. You're trying to fill in gaps in your knowledge, and to find evidence that supports some of your claims. MOST of your evidence will come from the text you're analyzing, but if you are making claims about the author's life or the time when the piece was written, you'll need some evidence to show that your understanding of that life and that time are accurate.