James H. Thomason Library


English 209: African-American Literature

Background Information Sources

P              .

Top left: Alice Walker [detail] (Brian Lanker, 1989).
Top right:: Portait of the Poet [Phillis Wheatley], n.d.   Bottom left: Portrait of Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes, (J.Davis Griffith, 1949).  Bottom right: Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston (Carl Van Vechten, 1938).
All images: ARTstor Image Database.

  Encyclopedias & Dictionaries
  Handbooks & Companions
  Literary Criticism Collections

Biographical Sources

  Writing Guides
Locating Books
  Search Tips
  PASCAL Delivers
  WorldCat & I.L.L.
Locating Articles
  Journal Article Databases
  Key Journals
  Journal Finder
Internet Sources
Get Help

denotes recommended resource

Background Information Sources    
Encyclopedias & Dictionaries   back to top

African American Writers. Valerie Smith, editor in chief, Charles Scribner's Sons,  2nd ed., c2001.   
Main Level, Reference: R 810.9896073 Af83A [2 vols]

Afro-American Writers from the Harlem Renaissance to 1940.  (Dictionary of Literary Biography; v.51). Trudier Harris & Thadious M. Davis, eds.,   Gale Research Co., c1987. Main Level, Reference: R 809 D561D v. 51

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History.  Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, & Cornel West, editors.  Macmillan Library Reference, 1996. 
Main Level, Reference:
R 973.0496073 En19E2

The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era.  Bruce Kellner, ed. Greenwood Press, 1984. 
Main Level, Reference:
R 700.8996 H226H

Literature (The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture; v. 9)M. Thomas Inge, volume editor. University of North Carolina Press, 2008. 
Main Level, Reference:
R 975.00321 N42N v.9

Modern Black Writers.  Manitou Wordworks, ed.  St. James Press, 2000. 
Main Level, Reference:
R 810.9896073 M72M2


Handbooks & Companions   back to top

The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story / Blanche H. Gelfant, ed. Columbia University Press, 2000.
Main Level, Reference: 
R 813.0109 C723C
Pt. 1, Thematic Essays includes "The African American short story."  Pt. 2. Individual writers and their work –includes: James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and other African-American authors.

A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American South.
Richard Gray and Owen Robinson, eds. Blackwell Pub., 2004.
Upper Level, Circulation Collection:
810.9975 C738C

Includes essays on: Slave Narratives, Zoral Neale Hurston, African-American Fiction and Poetry, Literature of the African-American Great Migration, The South in Contemporary African-American Fiction.

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature
.  [Oxford Reference Online] Oxford University Press, c2002.

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.  William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris, editors.  Oxford University Press, 1997
Main Level, Reference:
R 810.8 Ox2O

Dramatists/Playwrights   back to top

Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography
Dana A. Williams,Greenwood Press, 1998.  
Main Level, Reference:
R 016.81254 W671C

Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays: A Biographical Directory and Dramatic IndexBernard L. Peterson, Jr.,  Greenwood Press, 1988.
Main Level, Reference:
R 812.5409 P442C

Early Black American Playwrights and Dramatic Writers: A Biographical Directory and Catalog of Plays, Films, and Broadcasting Scripts.  Bernard L. Peterson, Jr., Greenwood Press, 1990.
Main Level, Reference:
R 812.009 P442E

Modern Black American Poets and Dramatists.  Harold Bloom, ed.,  Chelsea House Publishers, c1995. 
Main Level, Reference:
R 810.9896073 M72M

Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook.  Jane T. Peterson and Suzanne Bennett, Greenwood Press, 1997.
Main Level, Reference: 
R 812.5409 P442W

Literary Criticism Collections    

Black Literature Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Most Significant Works of Black Authors over the Past 200 Years.  James P. Draper, editor.  3 vols.  Gale Research, c1992. 
Main Level, Reference: 
R 809.8896 B561B  

Three volumes of lengthy critical essays on major African, African American, and Caribbean authors; includes brief bibliographies.

Literature Resource Center [Thomson Gale]

Online access to Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, and full-text articles from more than 250 literary journals.

Biographical Sources   back to top

Gale Biography in Context [Thomson Gale]
Contains biographical information on over one million individuals from all time periods, geographical locations, and fields of endeavor. The "Biographical Facts Search" allows searching for people based on one or more personal facts, such as occupation.

Contemporary Black Biography. Gale Research (1992-present). Currently totally 70 volumes, this series provides biographical information on African-Americans from a variety of fields.
Main Level, Reference
 R 920.0092 B481C

Oxford African American

  Studies Center


Core content from reference works. Includes indexing and content from the following print resources:
• Africana
• African American National Biography (much content available, but still under development)
• Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895
• Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present
• Black Women in America, Second Edition
• Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Literature Resource Center [Thomson Gale]

Online access to Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, and full-text articles from more than 250 literary journals.

Writing Guides   back to top

Humanities: Documenting Sources
[Research and Documentation Online], Bedford/St. Martins, 2003.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Modern Language Association, 2009.
Main Level, Ready Reference Shelf and Reference Collection: R 808.02 M72M

Writing Center, Presbyterian College
Citation styles, writing guides, and scheduling an appointment with a tutor.


Locating Books back to top

THOMCAT - Use the online catalog to locate books in Thomason Library. You can search by author, title, keyword, or subject.

  • Search for a person, as AUTHOR or SUBJECT, with last name, first name:              

Walker Alice 1944  [as AUTHOR]

  Walker Alice 1944  [as SUBJECT]  
  • SUBJECT searching requires use of Library of Congress subject headings. The terms below are examples of subject headings related to biology:



  American prose literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism  

African Americans -- Intellectual life -- 20th century


African Americans in literature

  American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism
  African Americans In Literature  

Gaines,  Ernest J  1933  (PASCAL catalog)

  Hurston Zora Neale
  Hurston Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God
  Walker, Alice, 1944- -- Criticism and interpretation
  Wilson, August -- Criticism and interpretation  
  Wright, Richard, 1908-1960 -- Criticism and    interpretation  


Subject searching is an effective and precise method of searching the catalog, however, KEYWORD searching has benefits, also.

  • Try a KEYWORD search using two or three of the most significant words from the title or subject you are trying to find if you are unsure of the exact title or the correct subject heading to use. Place phrases in "quotation marks."

  • Connect words with AND, OR, NOT to focus your search.
  • Try truncation at the end of a word stem to retrieve singular, plural, and other variations of the word.  Use an asterisk (*) to truncate from 1 to 5 characters. Use a double asterisk (**) to include word endings with an unlimited number of characters.
KEYWORD Searching Tips

· Use AND between words to narrow your search:
ellison AND invisible man

langston hughes AND short stories

· Use OR between words to expand your search terms and
group "OR" terms with parentheses:

African-American* AND (authors OR writers)

Richard Wright AND (poetry OR haiku)

Soul on Ice AND (prison* OR incarcerat*)

· Add * to the root of a word to truncate or expand
a term:
ethnic* = ethnic, ethnicity, ethnicities

Try KEYWORD searching with THOMCAT, other library catalogs & library databases

PASCAL Delivers  

PASCAL Catalog - If you need books in addition to those found at Thomason Library, try your search here for books in other academic libraries in SC. Through PASCAL Delivers, you can order books online for delivery within 3-4 working days. This service for current PC students, faculty, and staff is a project of PASCAL- Partnership Among SC Academic Libraries. Borrowers will be notified by e-mail when requested items arrive at Thomason Library. Click here for searching and ordering tips.
WorldCat & Interlibrary Loan  

WorldCat – A catalog of books and materials at libraries worldwide. Try searching here to find ALL books available on a topic. Materials available at Thomason Library are highlighted and others can be borrowed through ILL or searched in PASCALCAT.

Interlibrary Loan - ILL is available to PC students, faculty and staff in order to share resources between libraries. Check link for instructions.

Locating Articles:    
Journal Article Databases back to top

The following journal databases are available to PC students, faculty, and staff from on- and off-campus locations.  Search using keywords or phrases dealing with your topic. Click here for search tips.

Academic One File [Thomson Gale]
Multidisciplinary articles from scholarly sources

Academic Search Premier [EBSCOhost]
Journal and magazine articles from all academic disciplines

Archive of journals including the Arts & Sciences, as well as Ecology and Botany Collection (most recent three years issues not available in this archive)

MLA International Bibliography  [EBSCOhost]   Indexes critical literary and language scholarship and provides access to journals and serials published worldwide, as well as books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations, and bibliographies. Nearly 45,000 records are added annually.

Project MUSE Basic Undergraduate Collection  
Current and recent volumes of 112 core journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Key Journals   back to top


African American Review   Publishes essays on African American literature, art and culture. Contains interviews, fiction and poems. Previous titles: Black American Literature Forum 1976-1991 (Vols. 10-25), Negro American Literature Forum, 1967-1976 (Vols. 1-10)

American Literature

Black Arts Quarterly

Black Scholar
African-American essays on a broad range of issues of concern to scholars in sociology, history, literature, political science, health, art, women's studies and ethnic studies.


CALLALOO, the premier African Diaspora literary journal, publishes original works by, and critical studies of, black writers worldwide. The journal offers a rich mixture of fiction, poetry, plays, critical essays, cultural studies, interviews, and visual art.
Frequent annotated bibliographies, special thematic issues, and original art and photography are some of the features of this highly acclaimed international showcase of arts and letters.

The Georgia Review

Journal of Modern Literature


 Published by the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. Essays and interviews of interest to those concerned
with the multi-ethnic scope of America's literature and thematic issues.

Mississippi Quarterly

Modern Fiction Studies


PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America

Southern Literary Journal

Southern Quarterly

Journal Finder   back to top


Journal Finder provides access to PC's electronic and print journals, magazines, and newspapers in one convenient location.

Browse Journal Finder by title or subject. When browsing or searching, you can read articles from any journal that is available in the Full-text resources online group of results. Choose a database in this group based on the dates available and the time frame in which you are interested.

Library article databases are inter-connected by Journal Finder, which will lead you to the full-text of an article when available.


Internet Sources:   back to top


Voice of the Shuttle: Literature (in English) Minority Literatures. [electronic resource]

Digital Schomburg: African American Women Writers of the 19th Century
New York Public Library, c1999. 
A text database of 52 works by Afro-American women published prior to 1920. Documents are browsable by title, author, or genre (fiction, poetry, biography, or essays); browse lists can be further searched by keywords.


Get Help   back to top
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Teresa Inman 833-8313
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