American Regions and Authors

Countless American authors throughout history have come to represent and embody a place in their writings. Their prose painted a picture of a particular place--whether that be the great American West, the deep South, or the Northeast. The examination of a particular American region through the lens of a writer can conjure up an endless number of questions about the country and its many identities. Some possible topics or regions to explore are:

the South
the western frontier
American identity vs. regional identity
the literary tools of regional writing: tone, language, dialect
regional stereotypes in American literature

We can't fit every resource about American regional literature on this list! A pathfinder is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference material

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library and can be found on the first floor. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic.

Curley, Dorothy. (1969). A library of literary criticism : modern American literature. 4 Volumes. REF 810.9 C93 A 4-volume collection of criticisms on various authors. Includes bibliographies.
Parini, Jay. (2003). American writers : classics. 388 pages. REF 810.9 Am3 2003 v.1

Unger, Leonard. (1981). American writers : a collection of literary biographies. 4 Volumes. REF 810.9 Am3 A 4-volume collection (with 3 supplements) featuring biographies on various American writers, from Jack Kerouac to John Steinbeck.
Wilson, Charles Reagan & William Ferris. (1989). Encyclopedia of Southern culture. 4 volumes. REF 975.003 En1 1989 A 4-volume historical reference guide.


Books about and by American authors can be found in the 800's, particularly the 810s through 819s. You may however want to examine some books on history to support themes, eras, and regional writing styles in the fiction you are reading, and can find books on American history, found in the 973s, and politics, in the 320s. You may also want to examine society, its interactions, and groups, by looking at the 305s and 306s. Remember, it is important to check our catalog for books that may be located in other sections. Please be sure to check other American literature pathfinders for additional resources.

Brooks, Van Wyck. (1936). The flowering of New England, 1815-1865. 550 pages. 810.9 B79
Davidson, Marshall B. (1973). American heritage history of the writer's America. B10.9 D28
Lape, Noreen Groover. (2000). West of the border : the multicultural literature of the Western American frontiers. 224 pages. 810.9327 L31 2000
Lewis, David. (1994). The portable Harlem Renaissance reader. 744 pages. 810.8 P83 1994


You can click on any of the links and will immediately be logged into the database. If you are away from campus, please read the instructions on remote access, located on the library's googlesite page.
Biography Resource Center A database of complete biographies on notable people around the world.
Contemporary Literary Criticism A complete database offering full-text articles on literature.
Gale Student Edition Full-text articles and other multimedia geared toward high school students. Go here before Google! Search for subject "American and Literature" to find full-text articles; multimedia, newspapers, and other popular resources. Author searches and subject area searches are also possible. Play with different combination of search terms; for questions, consult the BCDS library for searching help.
Readers Guide Full Text Select Good source of articles and criticisms. Check box for Readers Guide Full Text select. Basic or advanced search: "American and Literature".
Internet sites

Electronic Texts in American Studies Comprehensive open-access to documents, primary sources, and literature on American life at the University of Nebraska Libraries.
Library of Southern Literature: Documenting the American South A digital library of southern writing prior to 1924 housed at the University of North Carolina.
Outline of American Literature A narrative, broken down by period.
Perspectives in American Literature An extensive online portal housed at California State University.
Southern Spaces An overview of southern literature by genre at the Emory University Digital Library.

BPL: electronic resources

JSTOR: More than 600 core scholarly journals focusing on literature and the humanities. Collection spans the last 150 years but does not includes most current 3 to 5 years.
Literary Resource Center: Full-text database that combines more than 1,000 books, major literary encyclopedias, and reference works from antiquity to the present. It also houses more than 100 literary journals and unique sources not available elsewhere.
Student Resource Center: Designed for grades 6-12, this database offers easy keyword searching across journals, images, books, and reference materials.

Updated 10-09.