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Slavic Literature Guide   Tags: east_european, literature, research_methods, russian, slavic  

Last Updated: Sep 8, 2011 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Literature Reviews

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There are a variety of resources in the library and they are not always easy to navigate.  If you are new to this campus or if you have not used this library a great deal in the past you might start with the library's basic guides available at the "Learn the Basics" page.   There are numerous help pages available including tutorials, videos and hands-on training sessions.  You can identify those most useful for your research at "Learn to use the library page".

The remainder of this guide will be focused on Slavic literary resources.  If you have any questions about your research please contact the librarians at the Slavic Reference Service or any of the other librarians in the Slavic Library.  You can reach the Slavic Reference Service at or through the chat widget on the right sidebar M-F, 8:30 - 3:00.



There are many different types of resources available for literary research, ranging from archives to library catalogs, to microform resources and bibliographic publications, not to mention the universe of digital materials.  There is now the additional factor of how best to use and organize the materials for your research.  Will you need bibliographic software such as RefWorks or will an RSS feed alerting you to current publications be helpful?  What type of scanner will be most useful for your materials--planetary, microform?  There are obviously many considerations.

So where does one begin with literary queries? As in other areas, the first step must be a careful analysis of the type of answer you are seeking.

Do you need a list of titles?

Are you looking for biographical information, publication information or some other specific fact related to literature?

Are you trying to trace the usage of a particular term?

What is the time period concerned?

Are there issues of censorship involved that could affect the availability of the information you need?

Is the work one that could be classified as folk literature or even children's literature? Will these be included in specialized bibliographies? Will general literary bibliographies be a source for this subject?

Answering these questions before you begin will help you to decide on the most useful type of source to seek out in beginning your research. Once you have identified the type of source you need, a subject guide or library catalog will help you identify the specific tool you need.

The structure of the source may itself be helpful in your research. Many guides are organized around the types of sources available, with sections on personal bibliographies, biographical sources, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. Gaining a familiarity with the universe of sources that are relevant to your research can prevent serious omissions in your work. Subject headings in library catalogs frequently include subdivisions for "dictionary" or "bibliography", for example, which can help you find the categories of resources you need.

Russian literature is well indexed, at least for those individuals, subject areas and genres who were not censored for religious or political reasons. This is an issue for both the imperial and Soviet periods. The underground literature has its own set of sources. As with most of areas research today, a thorough search will require the use of online and paper resources.

One advantage to gaining a familiarity with the paper guides is that the scholar will quickly become aware of the possible sources of information open to him/her. The online guides usually limit themselves to other online resources. While these can be very helpful they often lack the retrospective depth necessary for a serious study of a literary work. The paper sources, of course, are "closed" resources including references only to those titles available at the time of publication. However, the more recent publications often do include online resources as well as print materials.

Subject Guide

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Subject Guide

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Research Guides

Literary Resource Guide


If you click on the image above you will find one of the many guides created by the Slavic Reference Service and their colleagues in Russia and Poland.  As is apparent from the title, this guide focuses on scholarly resources for Russian Literature.  The other guides span a range of subjects and offer a kind of checklist to the scholar seeking a comprehensive search of the literature.  If you have any suggestions or would like to see the full list of sources click on 


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