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ENG 535 — Studies in Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare's Contemporaries

ATTENTION: This research guide was last modified on February 02, 2009, before the January 2012 redesign of the library's home page. Information on how to access journal articles, databases, and other library resources may be inaccurate or outdated.

For up-to-date instructions on accessing materials, please visit our tutorial pages instead.

Exterior of Swan theatre

Contact Information

Carol Dales


Borrowing Books

Locating Books by Using ToroFind Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)

Using Databases from Off-campus

Recommended Electronic Databases for Literary Research

Searching the MLA International Bibliography

How to Do an Article Search in MLAIB

How can I get fewer results (narrow my search)?

How can I get more results (expand my search)?

Viewing the Results of a Search

What if CSUDH Doesn't have it?

How do I Use the MLAIB Thesaurus?

Can I Save, Print and / or Email Search Results?

How do I find an article in a specific journal?

Tips for using JSTOR

Selected Internet Resources

Borrowing Books
  • Before borrowing books, read the regulations on the Circulation /Borrowing Books page.
  • Use the Library's ToroFind catalog to search for books by author, title or subject. In addition to finding materials available in the CSUDH Library, you will find links that enable you to request books directly from other libraries.
  • To borrow books, take your CSUDH photo ID with a current sticker to the Library Circulation Department on the 2nd floor of the library.

Here are links for other local libraries and libraries worldwide:

Locating Books by Using ToroFind Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)

Locating Books by Using ToroFind Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC):

  • Use keywords or Library of Congress Subject Headings to find books with literary criticism, critical or biographical information about an author, or information about a literary movement.
  • Search any author's last and first names as subject keywords when looking for critical literature about that author's works. 
    Example of a typical "author as subject" entry: 
    Jonson Ben 1573 1637 Criticism And Interpretation .
  • Here are other sample Library of Congress Subject Headings to try:
    (don't bother to type dashes and commas when you type a search into the catalog)
    • English drama -- Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600 -- History and criticism
    • Gender identity in literature
    • Sex role in literature
    • Marlowe, Christopher 1564-1593 -- Views on sex
    • English literature -- Research - Methodology
    • Feminist criticism

"But I just want to browse...":

Most books about Renaissance and Elizabethan drama as well as books by and about Shakespeare's contemporaries (and Shakespeare himself) may be found in the PR 2600 - PR 3100 call number area on the Library 4th floor South (new wing).
Reference books are in the PR 2600++ area on the 2nd floor (near the Reference Desk).

Using Databases from Off-campus

To use CSUDH databases while you're off campus, Adobe Acrobat Reader software (v. 7.0 or later) must already be installed on the computer you use.  Many articles are available only in .pdf (portable document format) format, and Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to read and/or print them.  Get a new Adobe Acrobat Reader free at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html

If you need help logging in to CSUDH databases, click here.

Recommended Electronic Databases for Literary Research
  • Click on a link below to access a recommended database or use our comprehensive list of journal article databases to see all available CSUDH databases.
  • For an in-depth review of how to use databases to find journal articles, click here.
  • Note: In general databases such as Academic Search Premier and Humanities Full Text, you may limit your results to peer reviewed articles by looking for the words "scholarly" and/or"peer reviewed" and placing a check in the box beside these words (you can also do this in MLA).

List of recommended databases:

  • MLA International Bibliography: (indexed bibliographic records, a few abstracts; occasional links to full text) of scholarly research in literature, language, linguistics, and folklore from the 19th century to date). Note: As MLA Bibliography is the database of the Modern Language Association , (a not-for-profit organization committed to the study and teaching of language and literature), it should be the first place graduate English students check for electronic resources! (see searching the MLA, below).
  • JSTOR: indexing and full text of back issues of over 200 frequently used language and literature journals, e.g.:  Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 issues from 1961-2004; Most JSTOR language and literature titles are now also indexed in MLA Bibliography (see JSTOR Tips, below).
  • Academic Search Premier: indexing, abstracts and high percentage of full text articles from journals in many areas including humanities, language and linguistics and arts & literature.
  • Humanities Full-Text: covers over 400 peer-reviewed journals from 1984 to date; includes indexing, abstracts and selected full text in Film, Folklore, Gender Studies, History,  Linguistics, Literary & Social Criticism , Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Religion and Theology; contains selected full text from 1995-date.
  • Project MUSE: includes indexing and full text of over 150 drama, language and literature and renaissance studies journals published by Johns Hopkins U. Press.
  • Oxford Journals: website of a major publisher of academic journals, many of which contain literature studies.

Searching the MLA International Bibliography

How do I get to the MLAIB (without using the link above)?

  1. Go to the library website.
  2. Click on the grey Find Journal Articles Now bar.
  3. Click on "M", move your cursor down to MLA Bibliography & click on it.

Does the MLAIB include any full text journal articles?

Yes, but fewer than 20% of the records for journal articles include actual links to full text .

How to Do an Article Search in MLAIB
  • MLAIB is not case sensitive.
  • Write down the most important key word or words that describe your topic. Whenever possible, list synonyms for each word. The resulting words and / or phrases are your search terms .
  • Type a word or phrase into the top Find box that describes what you are looking for: e.g.: Shakespeare

How can I get fewer results (narrow my search)?

type another word or phrase into the second Find box
e.g.: gender

Leave the small dropdown box to the left of your search set as AND . Your search then becomes: Shakespeare AND gender
This strategy narrows your search (fewer results) because both words or phrases you enter must be present in all results.

AND is a connector word (sometimes called a Boolean operator ).

Combine search terms with AND whenever a search contains multiple concepts .

Limit your results, as needed, to a date range or to full text , or to a particular language , by clicking in the boxes below your search (just below the "Refine Search" tab).

Choose an appropriate Field Code from the All Fields list on each line you use.

e.g:, to search for the subject "Psychoanalytic criticism", enter it in the Find field, and select SU-Subject . You will then be searching only the Subject field of each record.

Use the connector word NOT ( also a Boolean operator) to exclude unwanted terms.

NOT will narrow or limit your search (fewer results) because the excluded word must not be present in results: Hamlet NOT Branagh

How can I get more results (expand my search)?
  • Use truncation symbols, e.g. child* retrieves records with child, child's, children, children's, etc.
  • Use wild card symbols,   e.g. wom?n retrieves woman or women in one search.
  • Add synonyms to youor search with OR:
    e.g., cinema OR theater OR theatre OR film or motion picture or movie
    (type all related terms on one line)
  • If the database has a Thesaurus or subject index, check there for more possible search terms.
  • Check search terns for correct and alternate spellings and typos.
  • Reduce the number of concepts, e.g., if you were searching for 3 concepts, try searching for 2.


Viewing the Results of a Search

After entering your search terms and parameters, click the Search button.

The Result List will appear in table format listed by date, most recent first .
Optional: you can also sort articles by relevance or other criteria-see "Sort by" box at top RH side of each Results page)

(Optional) You can click on the Add folder icon after the Abstract in each result to collect all of the best results from searches for viewing/saving/printing in an electronic folder.

Each record in the Result List shows search terms highlighted in bold italicized type.
Here are the two possible options, at least one of which will be offered on the last line of each record:

  1. PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text  -links to Full Text articles from other EBSCO databases and electronic journals to which we subscribe.
  2. The blue "Check Availability..." icon appears after articles for which the MLAIB database itself includes only a citation, in other words, full text is not included in the journal index!  However, full text MAY appear in hard copy somewhere in the Library OR in a completely different journal index. Click to find out!
  3. Records without links of any kind are usually records of book chapters or dissertations. Check for books by title and/or author of book ( after IN : in the database record ) in the Library catalog.
  4. You may request dissertations and theses on Interlibrary Loan  (if they are not already available through Digital Dissertations ).

What if CSUDH Doesn't have it?

To request a book , you can either:

To request an article , you can either:

  • Request an article directly when the message "Full Text of Article is NOT available in CSUDH Library Click HERE to request item from another library" appears after you click the blue "Check Availability" icon.
  • Use the online ILL article request form to submit an electronic request.

How do I Use the MLAIB Thesaurus?

If you are not sure of the correct descriptor (subject heading) for the topic you are investigating, the Thesaurus will help you find it. The Thesaurus currently contains 49,000 topical terms and 327,000 names.

  • Click the Thesaurus button on the blue toolbar at the top of the screen.
  • In the box just below the green divider line, type a term for which you would like to identify a subject heading into the Browse box and click beside the Term Contains or Relevancy Ranked radio buttons.
  • Click the Browse button.
  • You will see your term as used in the database, or the correct term for your search term, as well as a list of narrower , broader and related terms.
  • You can click directly on these terms, check the boxes beside them to search a combination of terms or cut and paste them into the search screen where you are working.

Can I Save, Print and / or Email Search Results?

You can print, e-mail and save most individual articles, abstracts, and folders by clicking the appropriate commands on the EBSCO screens.

PDF article exceptions:

  • to safely email an article in .pdf format, open it, save it and e-mail it as an attachment.
  • a .pdf article longer than 10 pages usually will not fit on a floppy disk.
    Use a USB thumb drive instead.
  • save or print a .pdf article by clicking the appropriate icon closest to the
    open full text article (using the File/Save/Print menu in Internet Explorer will NOT work)

How do I find an article in a specific journal?

 e.g.: Find an article in the Winter, 2003, issue of Papers on Language and Literature entitled: Performance Anxieties by Tim Conley.

  • type Papers on Language and Literature in the top search box
  • type Performance Anxieties in the search box on the second line
  • type Conley in the Find box on the third line
  • click the Search button.  

Tips for using JSTOR
  • use Advanced Search (not Basic or Expert Search).
  • if you want only journal articles, check beside "Journal Articles" (below "Narrow your   search to...") to eliminate reviews and opinion pieces.
  • Unless you want to search all JSTOR journals from all disciplines, remember to scroll down and "Narrow by discipline and/or publication title" before you click Search.
  • default search is Full-Text; JSTOR has no subject headings or thesaurus, but you can limit to Abstract, Title, Caption or Author to refine your results (note: limiting to Abstract does not work well because most articles in JSTOR lack abstracts).
  • Truncation: search for the singular and plural forms of a word by placing an asterisk * (made by typing Shift 8 on your keyboard) at the end of the singular form.
  • Proximity Operators : find terms within a specific number of words of each other using double quotes around the two words followed immediately by tilde ( ~ ) as a proximity operator and a numeral. E.g.: to search for an item with the terms Hamlet and mother within ten words of each other: e.g.: "Hamlet mother"~10 . Use this tip to achieve more precise results when searching the full text of long articles.
  • Relevance of Terms : increase the importance of any term in your search by using the caret symbol ( ^ ) followed by a number ("the boost factor"). e.g: example, the query: virtue^3 love gives instances of the word virtue in a document three times more weight than the word love (also helpful when searching the full text of long articles).
  • all articles are in .pdf format and require that a recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader be installed on your computer (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html )
  • use the Print /Save icons on top toolbar of Adobe Acrobat Reader, closest to the article full text (using Browser File /Save /Print menu commands produces flawed copies)
  • Citing JSTOR articles: the citation is on the cover page of every article you print; follow MLA guidelines .
  • Click TIPS in the red toolbar across the top of the JSTOR screen for more useful hints.

Selected Internet Resources


  • Google Scholar Advanced Search: good place to try out a concept or combination of keywords that turned up LITTLE OR nothing in MLA Bibliography or other databases; gives you an idea of "what might be out there" on a topic or approach that does not want to be nailed down in MLAIB.
  • Feminist Literary Criticism and Theory: includes information on different literary genres, specific historical periods, literature, and literary theory
  • Literary Resources on the Net: a metasite of literary resources maintained by a dedicated Rutgers University professor; contains numerous links to e-texts and links to pages about individual authors.
  • Renaissance Materials: sub-page of the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts U., with primary and secondary resources in early modern English literature, particularly Shakespeare. 
  • Luminarium: English Renaissance Drama: Lush graphics and sound files enhance this extensive index of biographies, essays, images, full-text works and scholarly articles on the major English Renaissance literary drama figures, as well as links to many other sites covering general aspects of the era.
  • Shakespeare Searched: a search engine designed to provide quick access to passages from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, this has received rave reviews from scholars everywhere.
  • SHAKSPER: the Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference: home page of an international electronic conference for Shakespearean researchers, instructors and students; also features links to many other web resources on the Bard.
  • Voice of the Shuttle: renowned, gigantic, searchable database of humanities websites; look under contents for categories Literature (in English) and Literary Theory.
  • World Shakespeare Bibliography Online: comprehensive bibliography that will eventually provide annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare published or produced since 1900 (searchable for citations only--CSUDH does not currently subscribe)