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SPAN 7990/CPLT 7120

Search Tips

Searching Literature in Translation 

  • When searching literature in translation, remember that there may be many variations of the title. 
    • Trying searching "Untranslated Title" [OR] "Translated Title 1" [OR] "Translated Title 2" ... and so on. 
    • Example: "À la recherche du temps perdu"  OR "In Search of Lost Time" OR "Remembrance of Things Past" 
    • Be sure to include quotes around the title(s) to search for the work, rather than individual words. 
  • The same applies for transliterated words and names. 
    • Example: "Дми́трий  Шостако́вич" OR "Dmitri Shostakovich" OR "Dimitri Schostakowitsch" 

Searching Literature Multilingual Literature Criticism 

  • When searching for criticism (essays, books, and journal articles) it is usually most effective to search in one language at a time, as search terms will vary from language to language. 
    • Many databases, JSTOR, for example, will not filter results by multiple languages. It may retrieve results in multiple languages, but it is not capable of filtering once the results are retrieved. 
  • If you would like to filter results by multiple languages: 
    • Use a database with appropriate language filters. Most EBSCO databases have this option (Academic Search Complete, for example) Our federated search engine, Discovery, features a language filter. 
      • Use English translations of languages. Example: "Spanish" not "Español." "Russian" not 
    • Limit by place of publication. 

Searching for Topics 

  • When researching topics in Comparative Literature, try searching the following to get started: 
    • Work + Work 
    • Work + Theme
    • Author + Theme 
    • Work + Subject Headings 
  • Use the database-provided search terms to optimize your search. These will often be found on the sidebar or on the bibliographic record for the article/book/material. 

Search Strategy Suggestions

Here are some suggestions to help you narrow down your searches:

  • Use the AND drop-down menus in advanced search to combine terms (such as the author of your work and its title; the title of your work and a theme or concept; etc).
  • Pay attention to the source types in your results. You are limited to academic sources, which might include scholarly articles, books, or critical essay collections. The second result in the example below is a website, which you would not be able to use for your annotated bibliography. The first result, while it is a book, is not a work of literary criticism, so would also not be appropriate. You can filter by source type in each of the databases on this guide.
    Search results for The Raven, including a website
  • Use the date range options to narrow down results to sources that are more recent if needed.
  • MLA International Bibliography is a great place to start first, but you will probably need to search in more than one database in order to find all of the sources you need.
  • After you've searched in MLAIB, you can supplement your searches with the other databases from your guide. For an idea of where to look for which source types, see below.
Best Bets for Scholarly Journal Articles Best Bets for Scholarly Books Best Bets for Critical Essays
MLA International Bibliography MLA International Bibliography Literature Resource Center
Academic Search Complete Project MUSE Literature Criticism Online Archive
JSTOR JSTOR Literary Reference Center
Project MUSE    



To search additional databases at a time, click on this link: Discovery

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