Note: This post was initially written to support course work in NEW341. However, its content might be useful to a wider audience. Feel free to substitute the word “theorist” with “author,” “playwrite,” philosopher,” etc. as necessary

Quickly locating a concise, reliable biography of your theorist will help you get started on developing a profile of your theorist. Three tools that you can use to quickly find biographies on your theorist are:

  1. Literature Resource Center
  2. Biography and genealogy master index
  3. Reference Universe

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center is an effective tool for this task because it is a full-text source that contains biographies written by scholars in the field. In most cases the biographies will contextualize the theorists and their works, helping you to develop a quick, broad perspective of the theorist and their relevance.

  1. Open Literature Resource Center
  2. Click on “Author Search”
  3. Type in your author’s last name and first name (and click on search)
  4. Click on the “Biographies” tab
  5. Look for an entry from the “Dictionary of Literary Biography”

The major strength of Literature Resource Center is that it provides you with the full text of the biography. However, it will usually only give you one or two biographies for your theorist. For a broader perspective you will need to consult a wider range of source. Biography and Genealogy Master Index and Reference Universe can both help you locate other biographies on your theorist that were published in books or online.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index

Biography and genealogy master index will give you a listing of academic dictionaries and encyclopedias that contain an entry for your author.

  1. Open Biography and genealogy master index
  2. Type in the last name and first name of your theorist
  3. Choose your authors name from the list of results
  4. You will now see a list of publications that contain a reference for your theorist. You will need to look these titles up in the [Library Catalogue]. Copy the title of the publication, for example (titles are bolded):
    • The Penguin Companion to World Literature. European Literature. Edited by Anthony Thorlby. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969. [PenC EUR]
    • The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Edited by Robin Lenman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. [OxCPho * The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Edited by Robin Lenman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. [OxCPho]
    • The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Revised sixth edition. Edited by Margaret Drabble. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2006. [OxCEng 6R]
    • Modern German Literature. Two volumes. Compiled and edited by Agnes Korner Domandi. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1972. [ModGL]
  5. Open the library catalogue, paste in the title. Select title from the drop down menu and click on “search.” This will either give you a call number for where the book is kept at UofT or a link to an online edition of the book.

Reference Universe

Another place you can check for biographies is Reference Universe. Reference Universe serves a similar purpose to Biography and genealogy master index, but it is more focused in what is included in its results and links directly to the library catalogue to help you find the publication in print or online.

  1. Open Reference Universe
  2. Type in the last name and first name of your theorist
  3. Click on the title of the publication to look it up in the library catalogue. This will tell you if the publication is available in print – and which libraries have it, or if it is available online.

For assistance finding biographies for the NEW341 group assignment please contact Jeff Newman