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WR 301-(Lincoln): Critical Writing in English - Fall 2017: MLA Bibliography

MLA Bibliography

The  MLA International Bibliography gets its own page in this guide as it is the major disciplinary database for doing research in the literatures of all languages. The MLAIB provides citations to journal articles, books, book chapters, and dissertations  You will also find it useful for linguisics and folklore.  There are two especially useful ways to limit a search in MLA - primary author or primary work and source type.

MLA searches by using the Primary Subject Work or Primary Subject Author fields. 

A "normal" MLA search for criticism of the novel Waiting for the Barbarians  (note the large number of resulting citations).

Use the 'Select a Field' option to narrow the focus of your result set.


There are many fields in the MLA records, you will need to scroll down to choose Primary Subject Work or Primary Subject Author.

Notice how much smaller the set of retrieved records is (and therefore the articles will be more significantly about 'Barbarians'). 

smaller search result set after limiting to primary subject work


You can also make use of the Source Type limiter in the left hand column to retrieve particular kinds of citations, a citation to a journal article or a citation to a book chapter or a citation to a monograph.

source type limiter in MLA


Videos of MLA Searches

Watch a video of a simple search in MLA Bibliography.

Watch a video showing you how to use MLA's Primary Subject Work filter.

Watch a video that combines searching for articles and chapters on a particular work with a keyword.

Focusing your MLA search by work and by topic

You can further focus your search for relevant articles, by incorporating a few keywords into your search statement. In the example below, I'm looking for any articles or chapters that address environmental or ecological issues in 'Waiting for the Barbarians'.

screen capture search statement

Yikes! I went from 122 records publications about 'Waiting for the Barbarians' to 3 articles.  These are likely to be excellent sources for my research.

I can surface more articles that will be good on my topic, by not focusing solely on 'Waiting for the Barbarians.  Articles about the way that Coetzee handles the environment and ecological concerns will also be good.

MLA Subject author and keyword search