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LITR 335 Advanced Studies in American Literature: Literature in Context

West Virginia Coal Miners

Monongah Coal Mine, Fairmont, West Virginia, about 1900

Coal Train

Coal train bound to front

West Virginia Map

Map of West Virginia showing coal, oil, gas and limestone areas

Historical & Cultural Context

  1. the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

Research Strategy

Researching literature in context:

It is important to look for scholarly secondary sources describing the culture/history of the time period you are reading about, so...

  • Decide what it is that you want to investigate
  • Create a list of keywords relating to that question/topic
  • Arrange your keywords to search in Primo & find a broad selection of sources
  • Use History & English Subject Guides to search historical/cultural context on a deeper level & find articles in subject-specific databases
  • Know what kind of information you will find in your sources (Some kinds of sources may need to be left out)
  • Remember research is a process!

In the end, you may not use all the sources you've looked at, and that's OKAY! You want to choose the sources that BEST help inform your understanding of the topic you chose.