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Literature, Media, and Writing Research Guide

  • Find Background Info
  • Find Books and Films
  • Find Articles
  • Find Lit & Film Online
  • Citing Sources

Find Background Info

Background sources, such as specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, are an essential piece of the research process. They can help you:

  • Gather information about your topic and understand the scope of the research.
  • Locate reliable sources and clarify keywords.
  • Pinpoint important authors, texts, ideas, and key words about the research area; knowing what the primary phrases and concepts are will help you a lot as you are searching through library databases and online sources

Credo Reference

Credo Reference is multi-publisher collection of high-quality reference titles covering everything from the arts to astronomy, law to literature, and science to Shakespeare. Available titles also include a range of multimedia options including thousands of high-quality diagrams, photographs, maps and audio files.

Search Credo Reference

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary of English, covering the language from the earliest times to the present day. It aims not only to show the current meanings of words, but also to trace their development through time. Entries contain detailed etymological analysis and are illustrated by quotations from a wide range of English language sources from around the world, making the OED a unique historical record.

Search the Oxford English Dictionary

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism provides a thorough examination of the literary field’s most important people and ideas. It includes hundreds of entries about critical theory, the theorists themselves, and historical and regional information about different periods in critical theory.

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

Dictionary of Literary Biography (Gale)

The Dictionary of Literary Biography features thousands of images and biographical and critical essays on the lives and works of the world's most well-known authors. This series provides context on these writers within literary history and includes the Dictionary of Literary Biography main series, documentary, and yearbook volumes.

Search the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Gale)

Scribner Writers Series (Gale)

Scriber’s Writers Series includes background essays, and biographical information that adds historical and critical context to the work of major authors.

Search Scribner Writers Series (Gale)

Find Books and Films

Print and e-books are valuable sources for academic research. They will help you gain an overview of your topic and often contain in-depth information about the scholarship or history of research on a subject. Some books are written by single authors, while others include essays or chapters by multiple scholars within a discipline. Don’t let the length of books intimidate you because you don’t need to read them from cover to cover. Look at the table of contents and index to find the sections that are relevant to your work.

Find Books Using GriffinSearch

GriffinSearch is a good starting place if you are looking for books, journal articles, films, and other materials available in the library. In addition to searching the Giovale Library catalog for physical materials, GriffinSearch finds e-books and articles from several of our databases. To get started, search by keyword or type in the title of a book here:

Academic Videos Online (EBSCO)

Academic Videos Online (AVON) provides unlimited access to a comprehensive selection of videos curated for the educational experience.

Search Academic Videos Online

Videos about Literature

Shakespeare Videos

Swank Online Video Library

Swank Online Video Library provides access to selected streaming for films and television shows from major motion picture studios and independent producers. These films are licensed for educational use and do not include public performance rights.

Search Swank Online Video Library


WorldCat lets you search for books, articles, videos, and other material that are available in libraries worldwide. If you are doing in-depth research on a topic and are considering requesting resources through Interlibrary Loan, WorldCat can help you discover resources that might not be in the Giovale Library collection.

Search WorldCat

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Interlibrary Loan is a service where patrons of one library can borrow books and other materials, and access journal articles that are owned by another library.

Explore Interlibrary Loan Materials

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Giovale Library participates in the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) and Westminster University students have reciprocal circulation privileges at UALC partner libraries. Each UALC library has different circulation policies, but all require a current, valid, legal photo identification and proof of current enrollment at Westminster. Some libraries may also require other verification methods, so it is recommended that you contact the library you are interested in for details.

Explore the Consortium

Popular Titles and Features Texts

Research Methods for English Studies book cover

Research Methods for English Studies

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The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide book cover

The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide

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Panthers, Hulks and Ironhearts: Marvel, Diversity and the 21st Century Superhero

Panthers, Hulks and Ironhearts: Marvel, Diversity and the 21st Century Superhero

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A Short History of Film, Third Edition

A Short History of Film, Third Edition

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Find Articles

The Giovale Library provides access to a number of subject databases that you can use to find journal articles on topics within a specific discipline or field of study. The databases listed on this page are those that are most useful for finding research published in the field of English.


GriffinSearch is a good starting place if you are looking for books, journal articles, films, and other material available in the library. In addition to searching the Giovale Library catalog for physical materials, GriffinSearch finds e-books and articles from several of our databases.

Search GriffinSearch

MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO)

Produced by the Modern Language Association, the MLA International Bibliography offers citations for journal articles, books, and dissertations concerning literature, modern language studies, linguistics, and drama.

Search MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO)

Literature Resource Center (Gale)

Literature Resource Center provides access to author biographies, reviews, and literacy criticism for research on authors and texts from all time periods and from around the world.

Search Literature Resource Center (Gale)


JSTOR is an interdisciplinary archive of full text articles from journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  It includes retrospective coverage of publications which means that most of the articles will be 1 to 5 years old. To search for subject specific articles, after entering your search terms, scroll down to “Journal Filter” and select a subject.

Search JSTOR

Poetry and Short Story Reference Center (EBSCO)

Poetry and Short Story Reference Center is a full text database that provides access to classic and contemporary poems, short stories, bibliographies, and essays on literary forms and movements.

Search Poetry and Short Story Reference Center (EBSCO)

Project Muse

Project Muse offers full text coverage of journals and books in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, with a focus on resources published by university presses.

Search Project Muse

Find Lit & Film Online

From early English books to contemporary poetry, these websites offer only a glimpse of the primary texts for literary research that are now available online.

Early English Books Online - Text Creation Partnership

Early English Books Online - Text Creation Partnership contains fully-searchable texts of books printed between 1475–1700.

Search EEBO - TCP

Manuscripts Online

Manuscripts Online allows you access to primary sources in Britain from 1000 to 1500. The resources include literary manuscripts, historical documents and early printed books. Works are housed on the websites owned by libraries, archives, universities and publishers that provided the document.

Search Manuscripts Online

British Library: Discovering Literature

British Library: Discovering Literature explores canonical works of literature in the context of the social, political, and cultural themes prevalent during the time of their writing. Discovering Literature offers you a “peek” into the worlds that helped shape some of the greatest literary works in history.

Search British Library: Discovering Literature

Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization dedicated to providing worldwide access to poetry.

Search Poetry Foundation


Poets.org allows you to browse through over 7,000 poems, and over 2,500 biographies of poets to discover essays, books, anthologies, and textbooks about poetry as a literary art form.

Search Poets.org

Some films in the public domain—and even current films—can be found for free online.

YouTube: Free with Ads

A variety of new and popular movies which are free to watch on YouTube.

Search YouTube: Free with Ads

Public Domain Films from the National Film Registry

The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year to showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage. These public domain selections are part of an online collection.

Search the National Film Registry

National Archives: Motion Pictures

Digitalized motion picture materials from the National Archives.

Search the National Archives.

Moving Image Archive from Archive.org

A collection of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.

Search Archive.org

Citing Sources

Citation Resources

Properly citing your sources shows that you’ve done research to become knowledgeable about your topic and helps you avoid plagiarism. Explore citation resources to learn how to correctly cite sources based on style.

Need help with your research?

Get in touch with:

Katherine Tucker Paterson

Liaison Librarian for Literature, Media, and Writing

Schedule an Appointment

Librarians are happy to answer questions via email, phone, or in-person.

Contact Katherine with a question or to schedule a research help appointment.

Faculty: Contact Katherine to suggest edits to this research guide.

Chat with a Librarian

Use the chat box below to ask the library staff a question. If chat is unavailable or we don’t respond quickly, please use the email form on our Get Research Help page and a library staff member will contact you as soon as we are available.