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Literature Research

Brown Library has a number of resources for literary criticism. Some of them, such as reserves and circulating books, are available on the top floor. Other resources, such as databases and reference books, are available on the main floor.


We have a selected number of critical essays and books on various authors, such as Fitzgerald and Morrison available upstairs at the circulation desk. Please click here for a complete list. Search reserve lists by class, or by subject.



To find critical books about an author and his works, click on the books link from the right side bar. Use the browse alphabetical search on the bottom half of the screen. Choose search type, subject. Type in the author's name in this format: Morrison, Toni. To find results, you must search by the author's name, not the title of the book. Once you do that you will come to a screen that shows the author's name repeated several times. Look for the author's name, plus the words criticism and interpretation. Like this: Morrison, Toni - Criticism and interpretation. Click there and browse through the results. Remember to keep an open mind. Not all of the book titles that you will see will mention the specific novel or story that you are interested in. Many times a book will have a collection of different articles; some of them about your particular novel or story and some of them about other novels or stories that the author has written. Go to the shelf and browse through them to see what is included.

Historical Context


This is a list of periodical titles. Some of these are available in Brown Library and some are available in the electronic databases.


  • EBSCO - This is the place to start for general research. This group of databases includes: Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, Computers & Applied Sciences Complete, CINAHL, PsycARTCLES, ERIC, and more. Articles may be full-text, abstracts, or citations.
  • Gale: Literature Resource Center - Focus on literary biography and criticism. Includes comprehensive information from the well known print sources; Contemporary Authors and Dictionary of Literary Biography. Also includes selected text from other Gale publications, such as Contemporary Literary Criticism, Nineteenth Literature Criticism, Short Story Criticism and much more. Added features include an encyclopedia of literature, a literary timeline, and a research guide.
  • Gale: MLA International Bibliography - Covers citations to journal articles, books, and dissertations from 1963 to the present in fields such as language, literature, folklore, linguistics, and the dramatic arts. These articles are not full-text, but you can check our periodicals holdings to see if we have them in hard copy. If we do not own the item you need we may be able to order it for you through interlibrary loan.
  • JSTOR - Full-text academic journals covering the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
  • Project Muse - Full-text database covering current journals in a wide variety of fields, including literature.

Web Sites for Literary Periods

Brown Library

M-Th: 8AM - 8PM
Fri: 8AM - 5PM
Sat: 9AM - 1PM
Sun: Closed

3095 Colonial Ave SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

Info: 540-857-7303
Reference: 540-857-7438
Circulation: 540-857-6941
Fax: 857-6058