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ENG 102 - Short Story Fiction with Historical Research

This guide is for Ms. Grigg's short story assignment in English 102 that uses literary and historical sources.

Find Historical Sources

For this assignment, you need 2-3 sources about the time period/setting of your short story. The time period you research will depend on which topic you choose.

  • "A Rose for Emily" - Reconstruction Era
  • "A Good Man is Hard to Find" - Mid-20th Century
  • "Hill Like White Elephants" - Roaring Twenties
  • "The Yellow Wallpaper" - End of the 19th century
  • "Volar" - Judith Ortiz Cofer - Late 20th century, 1990's
  • "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" - Joyce Carol Oates - Late 1960's

You should use the library's historical databases, books, or ebooks to find information about your historical time period. These articles will not talk about your short story or literature (because they're history sources), but as you're looking at historical information pay attention to anything that you can connect to your story, that might be relevant to you story (this is what you'll do in your paper).

Search Tips / Keywords

Before you start searching, let's talk about a little bit about how to search for these time periods.

You could search for just the time period itself (i.e. "reconstruction era" or "mid-20th century") but these are really broad time periods. You want to find information that might be relevant to your short story, so it's often helpful to include some of the ideas/themes from your story as keywords to help narrow down the information.

Example for "Hills Like White Elephants" search: 1920s and Gender

Example for "Yellow Wallpaper" search: 19th century and Gender

You can also search for particular events or ideas that you know happened during this time period that are relevant to your story to help narrow down the historical information you find. This is why knowing the historical context of your story (see Step 2) is so important).

Example for "Yellow Wallpaper" search: Rest Cure 

Example for "Where Are You Going Where Have You Been?" search: Equal Rights Amendment or Vietnam War

Sometimes the location is also important, such as in "A Rose for Emily" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Both of these stories take place in the American South, and that's an important part of the story. You could try any of these terms to find historical information about different time periods in the South:

Old South, Ante-bellum South (pre Civil War), plantation era, etc. 

New South, Reconstruction, etc.

Also consider other names/synonyms for your time period or other names for themes or events.

Related keywords for Gender: Sex, Marriage, Gender roles, Gender equality, Women's roles, Women's rights, etc.

Related keywords for Rest Cure/Yellow Wallpaper: mental illness, madness, hysteria, nerves, neurasthenia, etc.

Related keywords for End of 19th Century: Victorian, 1800s, etc.

These are not all the keywords you could use. Brainstorm different words you might use. You'll likely have to try several different searches to find the information you need. Don't get discouraged, keep experimenting and contact Ask a Librarian if you have questions or aren't finding any material.

History Databases & Book Sources

Search the databases below for historical sources for your paper.

Search for Books

Search for Books & eBooks

Use the search box below to search the SCC Library Catalog for physical books (in one of our library locations) and eBooks. You can also open the Library Catalog or use the Advanced Search for more search options.