Resources by Subject African-American Literature

Reference Sources (Background)
Locating Books
Locating Articles (Databases & Indexes)
Evaluating Sources
Citing Sources

For additional sources, see the English & Literary Criticism page.

Reference Sources (Background)

The following list gives some representative reference titles relating to African-American literature and is not exhaustive.

African American Writers (2001, 2 volumes)
Ref PS 153 .N5 A344 2001
Entries on major African American writers, with biographical sketches, critical passages, and selective bibliographies. Also provides a chronology of African-American literature.

ARTstor (images)
An international digital library of approximately 550,000 images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences contributed by museums, individual photographers, scholars, special collections at libraries, and photo archives. View a guide for finding images in the field of African and African-American studies.

Black Literature Criticism (1992, 3 volumes)
Ref PS 153 N5 B556 1992
Biographies, bibliographies, and extensive criticisms for each author included.

Contemporary Literary Criticism (1973 to present, 102 volumes)
Ref PN 771 .C59 and selected articles in Literature Resource Center
Critical essays excerpted from books and journals on contemporary authors.

Credo Reference (current, full text)
Over 500 reference books and sets from several publishers covering all subject areas.

Selected Volumes in the Dictionary of Literary Biography
Ref PS129 .D48 and in Literature Resource Center
Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers (1985, volume 38)
Afro-American Writers Before the Harlem Renaissance (1986, volume 50)
Afro-American Writers From the Harlem Renaissance to 1940 (1987, volume 51)
Afro-American Writers, 1940-1955 (1988, volume 76)
Entries each include a list of works and a bibliography.

Literature Online - LION (full text)
Full text of over 350,000 literary works of English and American poetry, drama and prose; also includes full-text of over 300 journals, author biographies, and reference and criticism resources.

Literature Resource Center
Provides access to critical analyses and biographical information on more than 120,000 novelists, poets, essayists, and other writers from around the world. Includes full-text of several reference sources.

Masterpieces of African-American Literature (1992)
Ref PS 153 N5 M264 1992
Includes descriptions of major characters, a synopsis of each entry, and a brief summary of criticism.

Oxford Reference Online: Literature (current, full text)
Search reference books published by Oxford University Press. Includes The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature, The Oxford Companion to American Literature, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, and A Dictionary of Writers and their Works, among others.

Locating Books

The library's online catalog, providing access to books, journals, music, and movies in the library. To search for information about an author, enter the author's name and search as subject.

A catalog of books and other materials in libraries worldwide.

Books and articles not owned by our library can be obtained from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan. Allow sufficient time for processing.  Average turnaround time is 3-5 days for articles and 3-14 days for books, excluding holidays and weekends. Submit ILL requests well in advance of deadlines.

Locating Articles (Databases & Indexes)

MLA International Bibliography (1925 to present, citation only)
The premier database for literature research. Provides a comprehensive international listing of books, articles, and dissertations.

JSTOR (dates vary by journal, full text)
An archive of back issues of over 400 journals in many disciplines.

Project MUSE (generally late 1990s to present, full text)
Coves over 300 journals in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Academic Search Complete (1988 to present, some full-text)
Articles from selected popular magazines and scholarly journals in all disciplines.

Dissertations & Theses Global (full text 1997 to present; citations & abstracts primarily 1861 to present, some citations 1637+)
Covers master's theses and Ph.D. dissertations worldwide in all disciplines.

Once you know which journals you need, search Journals A-Z to see if they are online or in the library.


Voice of the Shuttle (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Portal geared to researchers in the humanities, including a section on minority literature. Browseable and searchable.

Voices from the Gap (University of Minnesota)
An instructional website which focuses on the writing of North American women of color. Some biographies include bibliographies.

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources (R-MC)

Is it POPULAR or is it SCHOLARLY? (R-MC)

Critical Evaluation of Resources on the Internet (University of Alberta Libraries)

Citing Sources

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (2009)
Ref Desk LB 2369 .G53 2009

Citing in MLA Style (R-MC)

Frequently Asked Questions about MLA Style (MLA)

Citing Full-Text from Library Databases (R-MC)

KnightCite (Calvin College)
Automatically formats citation information according to MLA, APA, or Chicago styles.


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