A very useful source for understanding your subfield is a review article or literature review. In a review article, the author seeks to provide a listing and analysis of relevant works on a topic, weaving the titles and authors together based on themes (common or contrasting).
For example, this bibliographic essay, “American Wilderness Writing” from the publication, Choice.
Here is an excerpt:
Later in the twentieth century, prominent poet and novelist Wendell Berry wrote about Kentucky’s wild and untamed Red River Gorge in The Unforeseen Wilderness. In this book, he assiduously and eloquently details his native region in much the same way that Thoreau had come to absorb and reflect on his own Concord. Another landmark publication was Annie Dillard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a deeply philosophical, observational work that documents a year the author spent in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Valley. This book solidified women authors’ position in the annals of wilderness writing and carved out Dillard’s place as a Thoreau for the 1970s. Four years later, Barry Lopez published Of Wolves and Men, which encapsulates the long history of discomfiting contact between these animals and civilization. A decade later, Lopez won the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. “If we are to devise an enlightened plan for human activity,” Lopez writes in the latter work, “we need a more particularized understanding of the land itself—not a more refined mathematical knowledge but a deeper understanding of its nature, as if it were, itself, another sort of civilization we had to reach some agreement with.”
Be careful not to confuse a review article with a book review! Book reviews can be useful to identify relevant sources that you can look up in the library catalog to see if we have in print on online. Book reviews vary in length and depth, depending on the publication and audience. They may compare and contrast with other books in the field, but usually do not provide the greater coverage of a genre or subfield as a review article.
The SPU Library pays for you to access the full text of thousands of articles (most of which are not available for free on the Internet) through the Article and Research Databases (also linked on the left side of the library's homepage)
Appropriate Databases for Literary Research
*You can search all these at the same time! Open one of them and then click on "Choose Databases" above the search boxes to add the others.
Obtaining the Full Text of an Article:
Choose Google Scholar from the SPU Articles & Databases page to be connected to full text when available through the SPU Library system.