Useful Subject Headings & Tips for Searching the Indexes
Searching in General | Searching MLA Bibliography | Searching Wilson
Humanities | Searching Current Contents Arts & Humanities
Doing research on a particular topic involves several steps.
- Defining your topic
- Selecting finding aids and indexes that will cover your topic
- Searching finding aids and indexes
- Retrieving the material
- Defining your topic means looking at your assignment or interests, and
focusing the topic to one that can be covered in the space and time you have.
(Clue: I can't help you with this one! Talk to a colleague, fellow student,
or your teacher!)
- Finding Journal Articles: The primary English-language database
for studies of literature is the Modern Language Association (MLA) Bibliography.
However, there are numerous other databases of relevance to the fields of
feminist science fiction, fantasy and utopia, including Wilson's Humanities
Index, Current Contents Arts and Humanities, and Women's Studies
Index. Students in high school may want to check the Reader's Guide
to Periodical Literature - a very general database - first. These databases
are all indexes to journal articles.
Finding Books: To find books, you should check your library's catalog,
or use OCLC's WorldCat or Bowker's Books in Print.
amazon.com is a pretty good source
for basic bibliographic information, as long as you remember that amazon,
like Books in Print or any other resource, is not complete and not
Finding Internet Resources: To find resources on the Internet,
go to an Internet search engine, such as google, Yahoo, Altavista, Excite, or Lycos and follow the instructions for
Contacting an Author: The best way to contact an author is to
write them directly or via their agent. You can find this information by
searching Contemporary Authors at your library.
- Searching indexes, databases, and Internet search engines involves several
steps. First, remember your topic, and then try to break it down into its
different parts. For instance, if you want to find information on women in
post-holocaust worlds, the two major concepst are women and post-holocaust.
You will search the databases for those two concepts, and you may need to
find other words or phrases that have similar meanings. For instance,
women or girls and post-holocaust or post-nuclear
Note! Sometimes a subject phrase that covers your topic will already
be defined. This is a subject heading. For example, women and technology
(Wilson) or by women writers (MLA). If so, your search will be most
precise if you use that term. But if you need to find more material, feel
free to search using both parts of the term separately (i.e., women
and technology or women and authors or writers).
Librarians! I have created the beginnings of a baby thesaurus for
feminist science fiction, fantasy and utopias / speculative fiction.
To search for a particular author, you will need to know how writers are
indexed in a particular database. You may be able to limit to fields --
i.e., search for articles about a particular writer, or search for
articles by a particular writer. Searching particular authors will
greatly depend on the search software you use (SilverPlatter, Ovid, OCLC
FirstSearch, etc.). For best results use a combination of keyword searching
and defined field (subject or thesaurus) searching. See your librarian for
assistance with your particular databases and search system.
I've listed tips for searching specific databases
- Retrieving the material is easy. Go to your library. If they don't have
the journal or book you need, ask for an interlibrary loan - they can
help you get a copy from another library.
- Access to the Database
- Check your library to see if they have either the MLA Bibliography in print,
or an online subscription. OCLC FirstSearch is one of the ways to access
the MLA Bibliography online.
- Subject Headings
- The subject headings listed below are subject headings used in MLA Bibliography
but be warned, these are not always going to pull up what you want. A term
used in one database may have a different meaning in another. For instance,
sex may be used to mean the verb (as in having sex) or the noun (as
in, what sex are you, boy or girl?). In MLA you do not usually need to search
for a subject and literature since the entire database is focussed
on literature. It is useful to focus on specific types of literature, for
instance fantasy fiction or science fiction
by feminist writers
by women writers
oppression of women
radical feminist writers
relationship to feminism
relationship to patriarchy
treatment of Amazon
treatment of androgyny
treatment of female body
treatment of feminism
treatment of feminist utopia
treatment of marriage
treatment of sexual equality
treatment of sexuality
treatment of women
relationship to utopianism
science fiction novel
treatment in science fiction
treatment of feminist utopia
treatment of utopia
utopian science fiction
- Access to Wilson Humanities Index
- Check your library to see if you have access to this in print or online.
(In Illinois, it is available through IBIS.)
- Searching for Material About Authors
- "Named Person" If the article is about an author, they might
be indexed here. Try Lastname Firstname Middleinitial
(i.e., Le Guin Ursula K). You may want to include a truncation symbol
after the first name initial (i.e., Le Guin U$ - specific symbols will
vary depending on how you access the database ). Once you've pulled up a few
citations with the author in this field, try searching again with the author's
name exactly as it is recorded in the database (i.e., Le-Guin-Ursula-K-1929-
) Combine your sets with OR.
- Searching for Material About Specific Works
- In the "Named person" field you will also find specific works listed, without
leading articles such as "the" or "an", i.e., Works Dispossessed .
- Searching for Material by Subject
- In the subject field you will find subject headings. Individual databases
may use a particular thesaurus, or they may simply create subject headings
based on the author abstracts or the headings provided by the journal (if
any). See your librarian for assistance in determining if a particular database
has a thesaurus, and if there is a print version you can browse.
The subject headings listed below are subject headings used in Wilson,
but be warned, these are not always going to pull up what you want. For
instance, "fantasy" is used in the Wilson databases to indicate daydreaming
& sex fantasies as well as fantastic literature. "Wilson" indicates the
Wilson databases as a whole, so these headings reflect headings used in
all Wilson databases, not just the arts & literature database.
feminism and literature
feminism in literature
heroines in literature
lesbianism in literature
matriarchy in literature
mothers and daughters in literature
patriarchy in literature
rape in literature
sex and language
sex role in literature
women and men in literature
women and technology
women in literature
future in literature
magic realism literature
mythology in literature
utopias in literature
vampires in literature
- Current Contents does not apply their own subject headings although they
will include subject headings printed with the article. Searching by particular
authors is also very fruitful.
We welcome your comments, suggestions,
and offers of assistance.
Please be patient while waiting for us to
get back to you.
These pages are edited and maintained at http://www.feministsf.org/
by Laura Quilter.