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ENG 230 - Professor DeMaagd

This guide will help students gather sources need to complete the historical essay assignment for Dr. DeMaagd's ENG 230 course.

About this guide

This guide will help students gather sources to cite in their Literary Analysis with Research essays in Professor Allyson DeMaagds's ENG 230 course. It provides links to resources that contain literary criticism of the texts you have read for the course, which will be required for completing the assignment. The guide also provides links to databases where you can find optional primary source material and scholarly history articles that might lend context to the historical events, periods, and social conditions depicted in those texts. 

Use the links on the left side of the guide to find lists of resources divided into separate pages for different kinds of information. Most of the resources are part of the University Libraries electronic collections; if you are working at a computer off campus, you will likely be prompted to log in them with your Ball State username and password. Some resources in this guide are freely available on the Internet. 

Thinking of research questions and potential search terms

It is often useful, before you being searching for information, to think of potential search terms.

When looking for information about a literary text - a novel, short story, play, etc. - the title of that text and/or the author's name will often suffice. 

Searching for information about a specific aspect of the text or for interpretations of it through a particular theoretical lens requires formulating research questions and thinking about their main ideas. A person researching "Dear John Wayne" by Louise Erdrich might be interested viewing the poem through a post-colonial lens and examining the stereotypes of Native Americans it depicts. They could articulate those interests as a question like this one: 

How does Louise Erdrich depict and critique colonization in "Dear John Wayne," and what Eurocentric narratives and stereotypical beliefs about Native Americans appear in her poem? 

The researcher could then think about the question's main ideas - which will become search terms. For example: 

How does Louise Erdrich depict and critique colonization in "Dear John Wayne,"  and what Eurocentric narratives and stereotypical beliefs about Native Americans appear in her poem? 

"Dear John Wayne," "Louise Erdrich," "colonization," "Eurocentric narratives," "stereotypical beliefs," and "Native Americans" would be good search terms for this question (although one wouldn't want to run a search using all of them at the same time). The researcher could now think of synonyms for these main ideas. Those will become alternate search terms. For example: 

  • "Dear John Wayne," Louise Erdrich 
  • Colonization, European settlers, westward expansion, manifest destiny 
  • Eurocentric narratives, dominant narrative, dominant culture 
  • Stereotypical beliefs, stereotypes, racism, prejudice 
  • Native Americans, American Indians, First Nations, indigenous peoples

Alternate search terms do not need to be one-to-one interchangeable with your initial main ideas. They can be broader, or narrower, or related terms. Here, for example, the title of the poem and the name of the author are grouped together; "Dear John Wayne" is the specific text of interest, but "Louise Erdrich" could be used as a less specific search term to represent "Dear John Wayne" and her wider body of work. 

After generating primary and alternate search terms, the next step would be to search for sources. The rest of this guide discusses how and where to search. Thinking of your search terms ahead of time will let you focus on searching once you're working in a database, and prevent you from having to pause and think of additional terms. 

Here are some additional examples of research questions, provided by Dr. DeMaagd. 

  • What does reading "Dim Lady" through a Marxist lens reveal? For example, how does Mullen draw our attention to consumerism, and what critique does she offer? 
  • What do we learn about ableism and gender through the poem "Disabled?" How does Owen use form and content to convey this message? 
  • How does Ridge depict the city in "Flotsam," and what does this depiction show? What does it illuminate about humans' relationship with the urban environment? 
  • What does reading "The Fish" through an ecocritical lens reveal? For example, how does Bishop depict the speaker's rejection of anthropocentric ideals and mastery, and why is that important? 
  • How does Asghar illustrate double consciousness in "Partition?" How does she illustrate a fractured sense of self, and what argument does she make about identity? 
  • How does Cisneros use windows/doors (or another motif) in The House on Mango Street? What theme or larger concept does she convey through them? 
  • How does Cisneros portray loss of innocence for young Chicana women? Why is that portrayal significant, and what does Cisneros say about it? 
  • What does reading The House on Mango Street through an ecofeminist lens reveal about the shared oppression between women and nature?