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English 112 Tutorial: Literature Research

Picking your topic

In your English 112 course you may have an assignment where you will conduct research on a work of literature. Your topic will help you start the research process.

If you are having trouble picking a good topic, contact your professor or ask a librarian for help.

Starting with background Information

Example: Let's start with the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. You have been asked to write a paper on Frankenstein and include outside sources.


You could try using some background information about your topic such as summaries, author biographies, timelines, and major themes. Finding background information related to the literary work that you want to analyze can help you formulate keywords to use when you search the library databases. It can also possibly provide you with suggested further readings or citations to literary criticism that you potentially can use in your research. Background information is typically found in reference sources. DCCC’s library offers many sources and databases that will help you explore literary topics and find background information including:

  • Literary Encyclopedias/Reference Resources

Print volumes found in the Marple Learning Commons – ask a Librarian for help.

  • Online REFERENCE databases:
    • Credo Reference – Summaries and author biographies - Example
    • MagillsOnLiterature Plus – Thematic analysis, summaries, and research - Example
    • Bloom’s Literary Reference Online –author biographies, themes, character information, images, videos, and literary criticism - Example