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Syracuse University Libraries

French Language and Literature: FRENCH 315

This guide outlines key resources and strategies for searching French language and literature at the Syracuse University Libraries

Research Strategies

  • Familiarize yourself with your topic.  Be sure you are able to answer the following questions before beginning your research:
    • Who?
    • What?
    • Where?
    • When?
    • Why?
    • How?
  • Gather background information about your topic using reference sources.
    • Reference books provide important information on a topic, include specific details, and point to other useful sources of information.  They point the way into the core literature of a topic contained in books, journals, reports, and many other types of publications. They can also summarize, digest, or review the literature on a topic in ways that save you time and energy.
  • Knowing the reference sources in your discipline can increase the efficiency of your searches by enabling you to better focus your questions. 
  • Be sure to evaluate the kinds of sources you are using.  Review your print sources and pay special attention to Internet sources.
  • Read the source carefully.  Note organizational differences between tools. Not all works are comprehensive in scope.
  • Be creative. Try alternative and related headings to locate the information you need. If your initial search is so broad that you have too many sources, then narrow your search. If your search brings back too few sources, then broaden the search, using more general terms.

Searching Print and Electronic Sources

Begin your research using the Syracuse University Libraries catalog. The catalog is two- fold . SUMMON is a very broad based search. It is the most up to date (there is a several month discrepancy) and the best source for e-books. This interface has not always been good for searching media, but Kanopy records will be soon added. The Classic Catalog is recommended for locating specific authors and titles. 
Searching Tips:
  • French writers are usually listed under their family name.
    • e.g. Aulnoy, Madame d' (Marie-Catherine)
  • Be aware of variant spellings as well as how accent marks are treated in various catalogs.
  • Early modern authors may be listed by their title.  Older resources may not cross reference these variant listings.
    • e.g.  Charrière, Madame de  or  Charrière, Isabelle
  • Articles should not be used if they appear at the beginning of a title.
    • e.g.  Princesse de Clèves
  • Certain individual titles may not be available in separate editions in our library. Check for œuvres which may contain the specific work.
  • The Classic Catalog subject heading search is based upon a thesaurus of terms developed by the Library of Congress.
    • e.g. French fiction-17th century-History and Criticism

Recommended Databases by Subject

Reference tools / background information

Overviews of Humanities Topics

Topical Humanities Databases

Overviews of Social Science Topics

Literature Database(s)

  • MLA International
    • The MLA International Bibliography is a subject index for books, articles and websites published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. It is produced by the Modern Language Association (MLA), an organization dedicated to the study and teaching of language and literature. The electronic version of the Bibliography dates back to 1925 and contains over 2 million citations from more than 4,400 periodicals (including peer-reviewed e-journals) and 1,000 book publishers. It is compiled by the staff of the MLA Department of Bibliographic Information Services with the cooperation of more than 100 contributing bibliographers in the United States and abroad. Such international coverage is represented by literature from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, and while the majority of records are from English-language publications, at least sixty other languages are represented including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Language Database(s)

Cultural(Art, Architecture, Music)

Image Databases

Audio Database

Streaming Videos


Please call or email Barbara Opar ( or 443-3518) if you are having trouble finding the right information for an assignment.  You can also schedule an appointment if you need help using electronic resources or for more in-depth assistance with a research project.
InterLibrary Loan:
While the Syracuse University Libraries have extensive holdings in the area of French language and literature, certain kinds of resources may be limited or unavailable. ILL is a service available to help students and faculty obtain books on loan from other academic libraries. Periodical articles are provided free of charge in photocopy or digital form. Click here for more information.
Storage Requests:
Syracuse University Libraries store certain older or lesser used materials off-site. The forms for delivery from Hawkins or the Warehouse are available on the Library's home page.  Deliveries take place only Monday through Friday. Bound periodicals are now located at the Facility. Delivery is available Sunday through Friday. For further details, see Delivery Services.

Reference Sources

Literary Reference Tools
The reference stacks, now on the second floor of Bird Library, house non-circulating dictionaries and encyclopedias. Certain titles, while of a reference nature, may be housed in the stacks. Always check the classic catalog for location. Important literary reference works include:
  • Dictionnaire des œuvres littéraires de langue française (PQ41 B4 1994)
  • Dictionnaire littéraire des femmes de langue française (PQ149 M27 1996) 
  • Grand Larousse encyclopédique en dix volumes (AE25 .G64)
  • The New Oxford companion to literature in French (PQ41 N48 1995)
  • Le Robert des grands écrivains de langue française (PQ41 R57 2000)
History Reference Tools
  • Dictionnaire de l'Ancien Régime: royaume de France, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle (DC35. D517 2003)



The following sources will also prove useful: