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ENGL 4315 - Sociolinguistics

Search Tips

Not sure how to construct the right kind of search for finding literary criticism?  Try to focus your search on three keyword concepts:  Author, Text, and Topic.  See examples below.

  • Use the author's last name.
  • Use any pseudonyms, pen names, or spelling variations.
  • Shakespeare
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells)
  • Use the partial or full text title.
  • Put the title in quotation marks.
  • "The Scarlet Letter"
  • "Kubla Kahn"
Topic Use a topic related to your central argument, such as:
  • Specific characters
  • Technique
  • Symbols
  • Genre
  • Theme
  • Theory
  • Lady Macbeth, Jay Gatsby
  • metaphor, narration, dialogue
  • roses, doors, light
  • sonnet, prose, criticism
  • gender, identity, relationships, sexuality
  • feminist, pscyhoanalytic

Then, think about how you can combine your keywords using AND or OR.

So how does this translate?  Let's say you were writing a paper about race in Shakespeare's Othello.  Some of the searches you could try include:

  • Shakespeare AND Othello AND racism
  • Othello AND colonialism
  • Iago AND (jealousy OR envy)

Combining Search Terms

In an "Advanced Search" option, you can connect search terms the following ways:

AND - narrows your search results by looking for two (or more) keywords at the same time.
Example:  "Milton" AND "elegy" gets results that include both terms.

OR - expands your search results by searching for more than one keyword at a time.
Example: "theatre" OR "theater" searches for results that include either term (helping you get results for variant spellings or synonymous keywords).

NOT - narrows your search results by excluding specific words from your results.
Example: "Milton" NOT "poetic structure" will return results that mention Milton, but do not mention "poetic structure." This option helps you eliminate irrelevant results from your search results.

Tip: use ONE search term per search box.

Quotation Marks

Use these to limit your search to an exact phrase.

Example: "Jane Eyre" limits your search to the exact name Jane Eyre. (**Try Googling your name, or your professor's name, with and without question marks around the name).


You can use truncation to search for all the endings of a word in one search. Most search tools use the asterisk (*), but some use and exclamation point (!) or dollar sign ($). Check the help function if your search isn't working.

Example: Shakespear* searches for Shakespear, Shakespeare, Shakespearean, Shakespeare's, etc.


A wildcard lets you search for different letters in a word. This can be useful to search for plurals and alternate spellings. A question mark is used in place of the letter.

Example: "wom?n" searches for "woman," "women," and "womyn."