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Reading Tolkien and Beowulf

Searching the Library Catalogue

Search the library catalogue, QCAT, to find books of criticism, biographies, bibliographies, concordances, literary glossaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias on literary works.  

Do an Author search to find books by a literary author, e.g. Tolkien  
     tolkien j r r (within author)

Do a Subject search for find books about a literary author, e.g. Tolkien
     tolkien j r r (within subject heading)

Note that when referring to specific people, subject headings often include birth and death dates.

Subject Headings vs Keyword Searching

Subject headings allow you to search the library catalogue for resources on a particular author or topic and are often more productive than keyword searches. 

Keyword searches work best if you have multiple concepts or topics. Use the results to find relevant titles and identify assigned subject headings for your topic in order to find similar books. 

Start with the broad subject heading, Tolkien J R R and then browse the subheadings

     Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973 
     Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1890-1973--Bibliography
     Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973--Characters
     Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973--Criticism and interpretation

To find critical writings about a specific work, you can search QCAT by either keyword or subject heading. For example:

To find criticisms on a specific work, seach QCAT by keyword:

     tolkien and "two towers" and criticism

or, search by subject heading (Tolkien) and look at hits retrieved under the subject heading (Tolkien J R R) and specific subdivisions.

    Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973 
    Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1890-1973--Criticism and intrepretation
    Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973. Lord of the Rings
    Tolkien J R R (John Ronald Reuel) 1892-1973. Two Towers

To find books concerning a particular mode or genre in a particular language or period, search the mode or genre by subject heading. This will give you a list of more specific subject headings from which you can choose. Some examples include:

     Anglo-Saxon literature
     Christian literature
     Christian poetry, English (Old)
     Civilization, Anglo-Saxon in literature
     Civilization, Medieval in literature
     Dragons in literature
     English language--Old English, ca. 450-1100
     English literature--Old English, ca. 450-1100
     English literature--Old English, ca. 450-1100--Criticism, Textual            
     English literature--Old English, ca. 450-1100--History and criticism
     English poetry--Old English, ca. 450-1100
     Epic poetry, English (Old)  

Other useful subheadings:

    Apocalyptic literature
    Bible in literature
    Heroes in literature
    Manuscripts, English (Old)
    Monsters in literature
    Mythology, Anglo-Saxon
    Mythology, Germanic
    Mythology, Norse
    Violence in literature

Once you have found call numbers for a few promising books, go to the stacks, where you will find other related titles.

Beowulf's Subject Headings

Search Beowulf as a subject to find resources in the library catalogue. 

Beowulf--Criticism and interpretation
Beowulf--Criticism textual
Beowulf--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Beowulf--History and criticism

More Subject Headings

Selected subject headings for an overview of the historical period include:

Anglo-Saxons--Intellectual life
Anglo Saxons--Kings and rulers
Anglo-Saxons--Politics and government
Anglo-Saxons--Social life and customs
Tenth century
Eleventh century
Great Britain--History--Anglo-Saxon
      period, 449-1066
Great Britain--History--To 1066
Great Britain--Social life and customs--To
Great Britain--Social life and customs--
     17th century
Social history--Medieval, 500-

Browsing the Library Shelves

Browsing the library shelves is another strategy for locating information on a topic.

Most books related to Beowulf are located in the call number range PR1580-1585 on the 4th floor of Stauffer Library.

For Tolkien, most books are classed as PR6039.O32 and located on the 4th floor.

Front cover of J.R.R. Tolkien's Beowulf