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HLI 354: American Culture

A guide to the Library's information resources in Professor Pennino's American Culture course.


This library course guide will introduce you to the Library's resources which may inform and support your research project in Professor Pennino's class.


Length: 10 pages (using Time New Roman 12 point font, double spacing between lines, 1” margins). Titles pages and work cited pages do NOT count toward your total.


On the Road. Jack Kerouac

“Howl”. Allen Ginsburg (can be found on

The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath

The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon

Portnoy’s Complaint. Philip Roth

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter S. Thompson

Blues for Mister Charlie. James Baldwin

The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Lorraine Hansberry

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Tom Wolfe.

Fear of Flying. Erica Jong


American Culture - Research Guide

Types of Sources

Subject/Topic Primary Sources Secondary Sources
Art & Literature
  • Films
  • Photographs
  • Novels
  • Paintings
  • Poems
  • Art criticism article
  • Literature criticism article
  • Art history textbook


Commentary or Criticism: A review of a movie is typically a secondary source commenting on the film itself. However, if you are researching the critical reception of a film that review would become a primary source.

Portions of this page were adapted from "Primary and secondary sources"

Finding Articles



American Culture

American Culture - Research Guide

Introduction and Guides

Biography & History

Library Catalog Search

Literature Review

American Culture

American Culture - Research Guide

Literature Review

Literature Review

A literature review is a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research literature on a particular topic. It involves reviewing, summarizing, and evaluating the current state of knowledge in a specific field or subject, in your case a topic to one of the films or directors in class. The primary purpose of a literature review is to provide an overview of the relevant literature, identify gaps, and highlight key findings and trends.

Key to a literature review is that it is NOT the following

  • a summary of research sources
  • a grouping of broad, unrelated sources

The above definition highlights the words critical and synthesis because you are entering a scholarly conversation about your research topic, with a critical eye to similarities, differences, themes, and gaps in the knowledge that you will contribute with your paper.

MLA 9th ed.

MLA (9th ed.)

The MLA style comes from the Modern Language Association and is primarily used in the humanities and arts.

MLA Handbook Plus is available online through the Library to help you cite every source.

Log into Okta if prompted.

Works Cited

Your Works Cited page includes every item you have cited in text and provides as much bibliographic information as you're able to find so your readers can locate the sources themselves.

Page Format

  • Title: Works Cited
  • Page title is center-justified on the page, entries are left-justified with a hanging indent (second and subsequent lines indented) of a half-inch.
  • Entries listed alphabetically by author, or title of source if no author name.

Reference Format

The core elements of a journal/periodical article citation:
Author. “Article Title.” Journal Title, vol. n, no. n, [year], pp. n-n. [Location].

Note that if the article is from the publisher website (which is considered self-contained) the URL falls within the punctuation following the page number(s).


Common Questions
  • Is an access date required?
    • If you're citing an online source, note that including the date you accessed the website is encouraged only when there's no publication date and you can't guarantee the website will still be there in the future. (See Supplemental Elements.)
  • When do you cite Canvas?
    • A platform such as Canvas is only the container if the item has been published through it: a Library database publishes the full text of an article, but Canvas is only the means through which you might read it. However, a lecture posted to Canvas would be considered published through Canvas and you'd then include the platform as the "container" in your citation. (See Journal/Source Title.)
  • How do I cite a PDF?
    • PDFs are not considered a separate source type in MLA as instead they're the medium through which you're reading the source itself, such as a book chapter or journal article. In general, the Location field will direct your reader to the primary version of the document through URL or DOI. But if there are multiple versions of the document, include "PDF download" at the end of your citation in the Supplemental Element field to tell your reader which version you are citing.

More info about...

Author | Document Title | Journal/Source Title (Container) | Contributor | Version | Number | Publisher | Publication Date | Location | Supplemental Elements

Find more about these topics at the MLA Handbook sections mentioned throughout.



More info: MLA Handbook 5.3-22

    • 1 author: Surname, First.
      • Smith, Max.
    • 2 authors: Surname, First, and First Surname. List in order given on the document.
      • Smith, Max, and Sam Jones.
    • 3+ authors: Surname, First, et al. (which is Latin for "and others")
      • Smith, Max, et al.
    • Names that start with surname: Keep as is, with a comma between surname and first unless otherwise specified.
      • Matsuo, Bashō.
    • No surname: if not in Firstname Surname order, keep as is.
      • Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo.
    • Online handles: add in square brackets after author name, unless author name and handle are similar.
    • Do not include articles (a/an/the), do not reverse names.
      • Beatles.
    • Corporate author (that is, a document attributed to a company or organization rather than a single person): spell out full name of organization
      • U.S. Department of Education.


More info: MLA Handbook 5.23-30

  • Full title in quotations, in Title Case - every major word capitalized, with period within quotes
    • “Tapping the Youth Vote.”
  • No title? Write a “concise but informative description of the work” (MLA Handbook)
  • Subtitle? Sometimes not obvious, so check the copyright page if available.

JOURNAL/SOURCE TITLE (which MLA calls the Container of the document)

More info: MLA Handbook 5.31-37

  • Full title in italics, in Title Case - every major word capitalized, followed by period
    • Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.
  • Container details:
    • 1 container: article read in print journal, tv show aired on tv, short story read in an anthology
    • 2 containers: journal article in database, tv show on platform, chapter in edited anthology read on a website
    • Works considered self-contained: book read in print, manuscript read in person, movie watched in a theater
    • What is not a container - things that didn’t publish the thing you’re reading. That is to say, Canvas is not a container of a link to article but it IS the container for a lecture video published in the course shell.

CONTRIBUTOR if applicable

More info: MLA Handbook 5.38-47

  • Translators, editors

VERSION if applicable

More info: MLA Handbook 5.48-50

  • Edition, if an e-book

NUMBER if part of a sequence

More info: MLA Handbook 5.51-53

  • JOURNAL ARTICLE: volume and issue numbers written abbreviated, followed by commas
    • vol. 12, no. 1,
  • MEDIA: season, episode
    • season 3, episode 4,


More info: MLA Handbook 5.54-67

  • Publisher
  • Website platform
  • Publisher name not necessary if:
    • It's ongoing - you don't need to list a publisher for a journal because it's an ongoing periodical
    • The website and publisher names are the same
    • It's a platform others use to put their stuff up (such as YouTube)


More info: MLA Handbook 5.68-83

  • Day Month Year, with abbreviated month where applicable: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
    • May 2021.
    • Oct. 2020.
    • 4 Aug. 2022.

LOCATION if applicable

More info: MLA Handbook 5.84-99

Location makes reference to the container(s) of the work:

  • Journal articles from a publisher website have one container - the journal, made available by the publisher, and the location is the DOI or permalink.
  • Journal articles from a Library database have two containers - the journal and the database.

Formatting notes:

  • Sources that are PART OF A LARGER CONTAINER (article from a journal issue, chapter in a book):
    • Fixed in print or in a PDF: include the page range as "pp. n-n.", ending in a period.
      • pp. 20-21.
        • No further location information needed if in print.
        • PDF or found online? Add DOI/permalink/URL.
  • ONLINE WORKS: DOI, permalink, URL (in order of preference). DOI = "digital object identifier" and is a unique hyperlink given to a scholarly journal article upon publication.
    • DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abo3420
      • But if you can't find the DOI or one doesn't exist, use the article permalink:
    • Online sources considered SELF-CONTAINED (such as from the publisher's website): As the DOI/URL/permalink is the location of the self-contained work, it falls within the punctuation following the page number(s).
  • BOOKS:
    • Print books you cite in full (rather than a specific chapter) do not need a page number location:
      • MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
    • E-books you read through a database or platform will use the database or platform and URL as the location.


More info: MLA Handbook 5.105-119

  • After SOURCE:
    • Contributor, original publication date, section of a work
  • After CONTAINER:
    • Date of access for online item but only if there's no given publication date or if the website/item might disappear
    • More details about the document type (publication status, whether it's a thesis or dissertation, etc.)
    • PDF: "[I]f you view a file type, such as a PDF, other than the one presented as the default version of the work on a page where other versions of the work are available, include PDF download, supplementary material, or a similar description in the supplemental element." (MLA Handbook, 5.112)

Works Cited: Books and Articles

These are some commonly used source types and how they're formatted. Remember that your Works Cited references will require a hanging indent (second and subsequent lines indented) of a half-inch.


Source type: Print book | E-book | Scholarly article | Newspaper article | Magazine article


Newspaper article from the website; one author

Astor, Maggie. “What’s on the Minds of 12 Young Voters.” The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2022.,


E-book from a database; one author

Cahill, Cathleen D. Recasting the Vote : How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement. E-book. The University of North Carolina Press, 2020. EBSCOhost,

Newspaper article from a database; one author

Gross, Neil. “Does College Make You Vote?” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 59, 24 Nov. 2012, p. B2. EBSCOhost,

Scholarly article from a database; multiple authors

Larson, Lincoln R., et al. “The Future of Wildlife Conservation Funding: What Options Do U.S. College Students Support?” Conservation Science & Practice, vol. 3, no. 10, Oct. 2021, pp. 1–12. EBSCOhost,

Magazine article from a database; one author

Padilla, Dynahlee. “Tapping the Youth Vote.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 18, Oct. 2020, pp. 20–21. EBSCOhost,

Print book; two authors

Shea, Daniel M., and John Clifford Green. Fountain of Youth: Strategies and Tactics for Mobilizing America's Young Voters. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

Scholarly article from a database; two authors

Spagnuolo, Natalie, and Fady Shanouda. “Who Counts and Who Is Counted? Conversations around Voting, Access, and Divisions in the Disability Community.” Disability & Society, vol. 32, no. 5, June 2017, pp. 701–19. EBSCOhost,

Magazine article from a database; one author

Wolfe, Rob. “America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting.” Washington Monthly, vol. 54, no. 9/10, Sept. 2022, pp. 60–63. EBSCOhost,

Works Cited: Online Sources

These are some commonly used online source types and how they're formatted. Remember that your Works Cited references will require a hanging indent (second and subsequent lines indented) of a half-inch.


  • Access date: If you're citing an online source, note that including the date you accessed the website is encouraged only when there's no publication date and you can't guarantee the website will still be there in the future.
  • Containers: For online sources, the MLA handbook states "A website is a container only when it serves as the platform of publication of the particular version of the work you consult" (MLA Handbook 5.34; emphasis added). In that case, you will include the URL/DOI/permalink within the punctuation of the original container (such as a newspaper or website).
Section of a website

“New Jersey.” Ballotpedia, Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

Entire website

Ballotpedia, Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

Government info from a government website

“Electoral College History.” National Archives, 18 Nov. 2019,

Newspaper article from the newspaper website

Astor, Maggie. “What’s on the Minds of 12 Young Voters.” The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2022,

MLA Core Elements

MLA formats each work cited using a set of core elements that are included in the citation if applicable and punctuated appropriately.

Find more details about the core elements in the MLA Handbook Plus or use the fill-in template below.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are a brief parenthetical reference within the text of your paper that includes the author name and page number so your reader knows where to find the source of your information.


The author name points your reader to the source citation on the works cited list, and the page number shows where in the source you found the quotation or text you used.

More info on in-text citations: MLA Handbook 6.31-77

Example article used throughout:
Niemi, Richard G., and Michael J. Hanmer. “Voter Turnout Among College Students: New Data and a Rethinking of Traditional Theories.” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 91, no. 2, June 2010, pp. 301–23. EBSCOhost,

Quoting or paraphrasing the source

Parentheses are placed within the sentence punctuation and include author's last name and the page number where the relevant text is found.


  • Quote: Traditional theories about voter turnout do not always fit well with the unique characteristics of college students" (Niemi and Hanmer 303).
  • Paraphrase: The voting habits of college students sometimes conflict with more general ideas about voters (Niemi and Hanmer 303).

Articles with more than 3+ authors are referred to in the parenthetical with the first author surname and et al.: (Larson et al. 2).

Attributing the author in text

Parentheses are placed within the sentence punctuation and include only the page number as the author is mentioned in text through use of a signal phrase.

In the case of 3+ authors, "you may list all the names or provide the name of the first collaborator followed by 'and others' or 'and colleagues.'" (MLA Handbook Plus 6.5)


In 2010, Niemi and Hanmer noted that college students are not studied as often as older voters (303).

Long quotations (more than 4 lines of prose or 3+ lines of verse)

Indent quotation half an inch from left margin. If the author name is used in text, put just the page number in parentheses following sentence punctuation. If the author name is not used in text, include in parentheses following sentence punctuation.


Niemi and Hanmer observe that

[w]ith the age of college students almost invariant and the meaning and measurement of their education and mobility questionable, several key variables used in models of voter turnout may well not account for varying rates of turnout among college students. Though there is considerable variation among students in hours worked, most student jobs do not mirror the careers they will ultimately obtain, so labor force participation may also be of limited explanatory power. (304)

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