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EN 221 / EN 302 Words in Time, Re Evitt  

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2012 URL: Print Guide

Background information Print Page

Background information

It's hard to come up with good questions about an author or poem in a vacuum.

In order to situate your poet in time and in relation to other poets and authors, you will need to know some background information about him or her. Most of this information won't find its way into your final paper, but it's necessary knowledge for you to ask interesting questions and make useful searches.

Brittanica and Wikipedia and similar sources are fine to start out with. Just don't stop there. Keep asking questions that will drive you to seek more complicated and detailed answers in your research.

Dictionary of Literary Biography

Since you will be connecting the author's work with his or her life, I recommend that early in your research you read the entry on your author in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Use the online index below to find the volume and page number. 

Then go to the reference book section on Tutt Library first floor, near the windows at the front of the library. Go to the call number PS21. D5185 1978 and look for all the baby-blue volumes of the DLB.

You can't check them out so, be ready to take notes or photocopy.

Use the DLB entry for biographical/critical information, and also as a model of how to write this kind of criticism. 

  • Literary index
    Search your author's name in the Literary Index, and look to see if he or she is covered in the "Dictionary of Literary Biography" (DLB).

Contemporary Authors

For those of you working on 20th and 21st century authors, it's worth a look at Contemporary Authors. You will mostly find background information, rather than critical analysis.


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