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ENGL 310B: African American Literature: Home


african american authorsThis Library Guide was created in Spring 2017 and updated in Spring 2018 for students enrolled in Professor Grant's African-American Literature course. The tabs at the top of this guide highlight resources, search tips, and other guidance related to the final essay.

As explained in the assignment instructions, your final essay should be a 7-8 page argumentative essay on any of the short stories, plays, essays or films you have studied (or will study) in the second half of the course. You're expected to engage in conversation with literary and cultural critics who have written on the subject and give ample and relevant textual evidence in support of your argument. You are required to include at least four secondary sources.

This guide is intended to help you find the kind of relevant secondary sources needed for this assignment.



(James Baldwin; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Richard Wright; Maya Angelou; Toni Morrison; Zora Neal Hurston)

[Composite Photograph of Six Authors.] Media-Connect, Finn Partners, 9 Feb. 2015,

Search Basics

The search box on the library's main page allows users to search for books, DVDs, videos, academic journals, magazines, newspapers, scholarly articles and more from one search box. If you're trying to access a book or article you already know about, you can enter the title or author's name here. If you're looking to find material about a specific topic, try entering two or three keywords that are likely to appear in discussions of that topic.

Main search box on the library's homepage


What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words you use to search for anything online and they determine how successful your search is. If you're researching the links between poverty and obesity in children, for instance, the most important keywords would be: poverty, obesity, children. Database searches usually work better when you only enter 2-4 essential keywords than when you enter a complete sentence or question.

Here a couple of common problems you may run into and ways to fix them using keywords:

I'm getting too many results!

  • use keywords that are more specific (not as general)
  • add additional keywords to your search
I'm getting too few results!
  • ‚Äčuse keywords that are less specific (more general)
  • remove keywords from your search
These results are not what I'm looking for!
  • try different combinations of keywords
  • think of synonyms for your keywords










How do I Refine my Search Results?

From your list of results, use the "Refine Results" tools on the left side of the screen to narrow your search. You can limit by publication date, source type, publisher, geography, language and more.