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You can still access the UC Berkeley Library's services and resources. Here's how.

Literature in English

Browse library materials for the study of literature in English

Additional Reading

Shame and Its Sisters
Silvan Tomkins

Touching Feeling
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Cruel Optimism
Lauren Berlant

Ugly Feelings
Sianne Ngai

Affective Mapping
Jonathan Flatley

The Affect Theory Reader
Melissa Gregg and Greg Seigworth

Cruising Utopia
José Esteban Muñoz

Upheavals of Thought
Martha Nussbaum

Step 1: Understand the Context (Encyclopedias & Reference)

Sometimes it can be difficult to formulate your paper topic before you have read much about your topic. In this case, "pre-research" might be helpful. Think of this as an informed brainstorming opportunity.

Reference sources like encyclopedias and critical dictionaries familiarize you with facts and basic concepts related to your topic. They are good sources for keywords, which you can use later in your searches. Finally, you can often find bibliographies and recommended reading for getting started.

Some good sources to get started:

Step 2: Read Broadly and Deeply (Books)

As you begin to formulate your topic, it helps to become immersed in the scholarly conversation that people are having about it. How can you participate in a conversation unless you know what other people are talking about? Extensive reading (and skimming) is the best way to get immersed in your topic.

Books are good places to start because they provide breadth and depth on your topic.

During the campus closure, you may find it helpful to look for books that are available in the following order:

  • ebooks in OskiCat (these will have a link, rather than a physical location)

  • scans of books in HathiTrust (log in first to get access)


  • if you are able to come to campus in person, Request eligible books through Oski Xpress
  • suggest the library purchase an ebook version if available

When using OskiCat, make use of advanced features such as subject headings and browsing by location. For more help with this, review this online tutorial.

Step 3: Rethink Your Intervention

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the scholarly conversation around your topic, try reworking your research question to one that is open-ended, narrow, and specific. Your research question should be one you care about and about which you can make a contribution to the scholarly conversation.   

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my research question open-ended?
  • Have I incorporated new terms and keywords into my research question to make it more specific and relevant? 
  • Is my research question narrow enough that I can reasonably answer it in the time frame of the assignment?
  • Do I care about this topic? Is it important to me or others in some way?

Rework your research question so that you can answer "yes" to the above questions.

Step 4: Find Focused Articles

You've done background research, immersed yourself in the scholarly conversation, and reworked your research question.

It's time to benefit from the focused analyses journal articles can bring you. 

Here are a few important databases for journal articles:

Archival and Primary Sources

Your project may benefit from the research and inclusion of primary source and archival materials. 

Here are some places to find them:

  • Search OskiCat, limiting your results to the location, "Bancroft." ​​​​​​​
  • Look for memoirs, letters, diaries in OskiCat by adding one of those keywords to your search.
  • Look at secondary sources (such as books about an author or time period), which may themselves contain or reference primary sources.
  • Check out this research guide on primary sources.

Research help

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Photo Credits

Photo of notebook taken with an unknown camera 12/30/2016,  released free of copyrights under CC0. Image has been cropped and resized.

Photo of bookshelf taken by Michal Jarmoluk, released free of copyrights under Pixabay. Image has been cropped and resized.