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ENG L357 Southern Gothic Literature

This course guide is intended to help students in L357 complete their final papers.

Always Cite Your Sources!

Why cite your sources in the first place? Well, citing is a way of giving credit where credit is due and ensures that you won't get blamed for claiming another person's work as your own. 

For proper citation guidelines for MLA style, check out the library's MLA style guide cheat sheet. The Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab also has a fantastic breakdown of all the variables that come into play when citing using this format. Check out their section on MLA Formatting for more information.

Having Problems?

If you get stuck during any part of your research, feel free to contact me, Nora Wood, the subject librarian in charge of this course guide. Email me at and I will help you work through your struggle!

Finding Your Topic

Getting started on a research paper can be tricky. After an entire semester of reading novel after novel, how do you determine what theme you want to focus on? Luckily, there are a few simple tricks to help you get started.

  • First, take a look back at the course description that's available on the home page of this course guide. From it, you can pick out various features specific to Southern Gothic Literature which could give you a starting point from which to begin. Several keywords that you can later use for searching could be: grotesque, disturbed characters, buildings and decay, alienation, racial tensions
  • Secondly, take a look at your class notes over various works you've covered, and try to identify whether your professor emphasized any thematic elements that caught your attention. Did he mention the character of The South in Faulkner's works (including social structure, social class, racism)? How about Flannery O'Connor's underlying discussion of the modern secular world versus the God-centered spiritual world? Try to pick away at various aspects of your notes to see if anything strikes you. Of course, there is no need to rely solely on lectures, but they can often serve as a springboard for ideas.
  • And don't forget to look through the Indiana University catalog or IUCAT to see what Library of Congress Classification subject headings relate to your topic. After you do a simple search for "Southern Gothic"  or whichever keywords best suit your area of interest (that you've found using the two techniques above), look through the titles returned for those that interest you. After you click on one, scroll down the page a bit, and you'll find a section that looks like the image below, containing various subject headings relating to the broader field of Southern Gothic Literature and that particular title. You can use these as a jumping off point as well to find various resources within the collection at Indiana University.