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Eng 315 African American Literature : Background Information

Background Information

Overview resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, guides, and companions are helpful reference tools providing summaries and background information, definitions, facts, biographies, and more.  Individual entries often include a bibliography, and cross-listings that refer to related terms or articles elsewhere in the resource.  These types of works can prove helpful in narrowing research topics or in fostering ideas for potential research topics.  Look up encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books with keyword searches in the library catalog by adding a term like "encyclopedia" or "dictionary" to the keyword phrase search.

Following is a listing of selected reference resources in both electronic and print that Regent Library holds.  These resources either focus solely on African American Literature or have well-developed entries on African American literature within the work.

African American Writers: A Dictionary
Michael R. Strickland (Editor), ABC-CLIO, 2000
[Electronic resource; Regent user ID and password required to access content which is made available through the Credo Reference online collection].

Over 400 African American fiction and nonfiction writers from Colonial times to the end of the twentieth century, including poets, essayists, scholars, and playwrights are profiled.   Biographical information covers milestone events in a writer’s life, education, major works, honors and awards, family, and more.  Along with biographical information, entries are also included for the major movements in African-American literary history.  A Writers by Genre Appendix, Chronology of Writers, Chronology of Firsts, and Reference list are all included in this work.

You can search within this resource any of the following three ways:

(1) Enter keyword term(s) in the 'Search in this title' box; or,
(2) Browse through the Headings or People tabs with entries arranged alphabetically; or,
(3) Browse the Writers by Genre Appendix with entries across eighteen different genres organized alphabetically (e.g., Autobiographies/Memoirs/Diaries/Letters, Children’s and Juvenile Literature, Slave Narratives, Poems).

Search tip: Explore the related resources recommendations located on the left side of the screen from any entry page to discover additional relevant information.

Columbia Guide to Contemporary African American Fiction
Darryl Dickson-Carr (Editor), New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

[Electronic resource and in print; Regent user ID and password required to access content which is made available through the EBSCO eBook Collection].

The guide is devoted exclusively to African American fiction of the post-Civil Rights era, 1970-2000, and opens up with an extensive overview of the complexity and diversity of this period in African American literary history. The remaining 160 entries include author careers and overarching significance; analysis of authors' works - both established authors as well as lesser known authors (e.g., April Sinclair, Darieck Scott); literary movements, key themes and influences (e.g., jazz, blues, and hip-hop/rap, feminism, African American postmodernism, Black Arts Movement); critical theories, and references to related resources. The work closes with a comprehensive bibliography (part of which is annotated) of African American fiction and criticism.

You can search the print version by browsing entries organized alphabetically within each alphabet heading, or by searching the index, as no detailed table of contents is included.  You can search the electronic resource any of the following four ways:

(1) Click on the 'Search within' magnifying glass symbol and enter keyword term(s) in the 'Search This eBook' box located towards the top of the screen; or,
(2)
Open individual alphabet anchor headings which will bring you to that alphabet's opening entry; or, 
(3)
Browse through entries by 'flipping' through the work using the page arrow key; or,
(4) Browse index.

Search tip:  Unfortunately, this guide does not list the entries under the individual alphabet anchors. Once you open up an individual alphabet heading you will need to "flip" through the pages using the page arrow key to view individual entries.

Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers
Yolanda Williams Page (Editor), Westport, Conn:  Greenwood Press, 2007.
[Electronic resource; Regent user ID and password required to access content which is made available through the EBSCO eBook Collection].

One hundred sixty-eight writers from 1746 to the beginning of the twenty-first century are included in this comprehensive reference to literature by African American women writing in all forms, including autobiography, drama, essay, fiction, poetry, children/young adult literature, and criticism.  Many of the featured writers are established, others are emerging, while some are obscure.  Each entry concludes with a complete bibliography of the writer's works and secondary sources. A list of authors by genre is provided, along with an appendix of literary awards and their recipients. A bibliography of further sources is also available.  

You can search within this resource any of the following four ways:

(1) Click on the 'Search within' magnifying glass symbol and enter keyword term(s) in the 'Search This eBook' box located towards the top of the screen; or,
(2) Expand any alphabet anchor heading and browse through entry titles; or,
(3)
Browse through entries by 'flipping' through the work using the page arrow key
(4) Browse contents and/or index pages.

Search tip: 
Click on '+' expand symbols next to Volume 1 and Volume 2 to view entries within these volumes. Also to quickly locate and compare the date of an author's initial publication, view the Chronological List of Authors page.

Oxford Companion to African American Literature

William L. Andrews (Editor); Frances Smith Foster (Editor);Trudier Harris-Lopez (Editor), New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.  [Electronic resource and in print; Regent user ID and password required to access contents in the electronic resource which is made available through the EBSCO eBook Collection].

A comprehensive compilation of over 700 articles on texts, authors, social movements, and characters important to African American literature.  Author biographies comprise the largest single category of articles in this work, from little known figures such as Mignon Anderson and Annie Burton to famous
and prizewinning authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Maya Angelou.  More than four hundred African American writers receive individual biographical treatment in this work.  Also included are entries on 150 major works of African American literature (including synopses of novels).  Additional essays on a wide spectrum of topics related to African American literature among them entries on traditional belletristic genres of poetry, fiction, and drama; slave narratives; Sunday School literature; and important social, cultural, and artistic movements, such as the Antislavery Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movement are also included.

You can search the print version by browsing entries organized alphabetically, or by searching the index, as no detailed table of contents is included.  You can search the electronic resource any of the following four ways:

(1) Click on the 'Search within' magnifying glass symbol and enter keyword term(s) in the 'Search This eBook' box located towards the top of the screen; or,
(2) Expand any alphabet anchor heading and browse through entry titles; or,
(3)
Browse through entries by 'flipping' through the work using the page arrow key
(4) Browse index.

Search tip:
Click on '+' expand symbols next to main category headings (e.g., index, alphabet anchors) to view entries within that category heading.