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ENGWR 301 - Professor O'Brien (Fall 2021): Home

How to approach research about literature

Writing a paper for a literature class involves a combination of your own analysis of the text, supplemented by outside "literary criticism" by other scholars. The most important part is your own analysis. What do YOU think? How do you see your ideas supported in the text? You'll likely need to read and re-read the text many times, and rewrite your thesis statement along the way. You'll figure out what you're trying to say as you write the paper. :) It's OK to re-work your first paragraph after you've written half the paper. Something else to be aware of -- often, you won't find a scholarly article that argues exactly what you want to argue, and that is totally OK. You can still reference that person's article and then expand on it with your own ideas.

Suggestion: start by reading this overview article about Beloved. Have fun!


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Sarah Lehmann

Suggested Library Databases

OneSearch in One Minute

Keyword search suggestions

For all databases except Google Scholar, I recommend starting with a search for

  • toni morrison beloved

Then, scan through the results to find relevant articles.

If you add more search terms, you'll often get very few results. In Google Scholar, adding more search terms, such as toni morrison slavery beloved will work OK. 

Find Your Focus: 3:30 Technique

3 Minute Free-Write: Think about why you chose your topic and why it's important or interesting to you. Free-write for 3 minutes without judgement or editing

30 Minute Free-Read: Give yourself 30 minutes to research & read about your topic with no agenda. See where your reading leads you. 

After this 33 minute process, reflect on what aspects of your topic seem most interesting and important. Once you have a few ideas, do some more research to make sure you can find enough information to write your paper.