A guide to researching the Harlem Renaissance, its writers, and their work for the Harlem Renaissance Key Figures assignment in Ms. Williams' English 202 class.
3. Narrow Your Topic
Once you've done some background research, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to write about. Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.
What aspect of the Harlem Renaissancedo I want to focus on?
What interests me most about this time period?
What do I want to write about?
Remember, your assignment asks you to chose a work by one of the key figures that best represents the themes of the Harlem Renaissance.
As you start to narrow this down into a thesis, you'll want to do some background research. Explore reference sources, such as this encyclopedia entry below on the Harlem Renaissance. As you read, you might tweak or adjust your topic/thesis. In order to help you find more related sources about your topic, you'll want to identify keywords to help you search.
As you think about what concepts you want to write about, think about what particular words might be found in a good article about that topic. Think of related keywords or synonyms to expand your search.
Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search. Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources.