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SCH-150: Imagining the Nation: Ireland and Literature from 1880-1925: Home

How to find scholarly sources on James Joyce's fiction

How to Find Scholarly Sources on James Joyce

The best means of finding scholarship on James Joyce's fiction is the MLA Bibliography. This is because this database is discipline-specific, unlike our library catalog. This means that the MLA Biblio improves the relevance of your search results by retrieving only scholarship of modern languages (e.g. scholars of English literature--i.e. scholars of Joyce). The library catalog, on the other hand, retrieves both scholarly sources from ANY discipline AND non-scholarly sources--so many of those results will be irrelevant (you probably don't need to know what a journalist or anthropologist thinks of Joyce's fiction). 

To use the MLA Bibliography, first, log in using your Union credentials. Then try basic searches:

  • Search for James Joyce and the text you are interested in (ex. Ulysses, Dubliners, etc.) as the subjects of the scholarly sources, as in the example below.
    • Subject searches focus / narrow your results; searching for your keyword anywhere in the record broadens your results.
    • Once you have identified a literary theme you are interested in, include that in your search for even more relevant results, as in the example below.
    • Use "or" to broaden your search: ex. by linking synonyms so that your search terms match the terms in the database. 
    • Use "and" to narrow your search: ex. by finding sources that are on Catholicism in JJ's Ulysses
    • If you retrieve too few results, broaden your search by searching keywords anywhere in the record (rather than in the subject), removing keywords, using different (broader) keywords, and / or replacing "and" with "or"
    • If you retrieve too many results, narrow your search by searching subjects (rather than anywhere in the record), adding keywords, using different (more specific) keywords, and/ or replacing "or" with "and"

MLA Biblio Search: Joyce and Ulysses and Catholicism

Once you have your search results, narrow them down to the most relevant and reputable sources on your topic by using the Filters on the left of the search results page. 

The most reputable scholarship tends to be:

  • recent, so use the Publication Date filter to find recent sources (ex. 2000 - 2022)
  • in the form of peer-reviewed books or articles (not dissertations or conference papers, which are not peer-reviewed), so use the Source Types filter to select Academic Journals and Books
  • published by reputable journals (if an article) and reputable presses (if a book).
    • To evaluate whether a journal is reputable, see the list of key journals (below) and / or ask your professor, and use the Publication filter to narrow results to articles in reputable journals.
      • Also, click the "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" box on the left. Note that this does not mean that the remaining articles are peer reviewed, just that they are published in journals that conduct peer review. 
    • To evaluate whether a press is reputable, look for recognizable university presses (ex. Harvard University Press).
  • of a certain length:
    • Quality scholarly articles range from 15-35 pp. Shorter articles (1-5 pp.) may be book reviews and / or too short to be substantive. 
    • Quality scholarly books range from 150+ pp. 

To retrieve your source,

  • click the "Full Text" link
  • or, if a full-text copy is not available, search for it in the Library catalog by copy-and-pasting the source title into the Library catalog
    • Select the type of source (book, article) and then search for the exact title, as below.

Title Search in Primo

  • Then, retrieve it from the results or from the stacks. If your source is not available through either the MLA Biblio or the Library Catalog, ILL it!

Reputable Journals

Here are some reputable journals that publish scholarship of English literature (esp. British modernism; use this to help evaluate whether the article you find is reputable / impactful (i.e. "good"):

Subject Guide


Creative Commons License
This guide was created by Adam Mazel for Lindsay Bush and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.