To find my first article, I will be using LION, or Literature Online, which is an index of English and American poetry, drama, and prose, as well as journals, criticism, and other resources. I chose LION because it is completely available online [which is helpful for when I'm not on campus] and it also has a specific focus on American prose and criticism.
Because I don't have anything particular that I am searching for, my initial inquiry is simply "To Kill a Mockingbird." I have found here a book of critical essays. There is a link right on the site for exporting the citation directly to RefWorks, where I am able to immediately get the full citation. Unfortunately, I am now hitting a roadblock with this particular site. The chapters from this book aren't online. Even after searching in the MLA and EBSCO databases and doing a general search, I haven't able to get what I want without going up to the library, which at this point is out of the question.
I'm frustrated, so I'm moving on to JSTOR, which focuses on humanities, social sciences, and more recently other sciences. Once again, I enter "To Kill a Mockingbird," but these articles aren't exactly what I'm looking for. Enter my recently acquired Boolean skills: "To Kill a Mockingbird" AND South*. Immediately more of what I was looking for was on the top of the list.
The first one that caught my attention was this one:
Chura, Patrick. "Prolepsis and Anachronism: Emmet Till and the Historicity of to Kill a Mockingbird." The Southern Literary Journal 32.2 (2000): pp. 1-26. Web. May 27 2011.This article is putting TKM in historical context, showing some of the conflicting dates and then comparing the trial of Tom Robinson to the circumstances, emotions, tensions, etc. around the murder of Emmitt Till. Chura uses comparisons between these two events to make claims about Harper Lee's perception of the Southern and the racism prevalent especially in that time. Scout's narration is used, in Chura's opinion, to show the kind of sleepy, dream-like, not completely aware state of many Southerners.
Finding this article has been a really helpful resource for the direction I think I would like to go in. I've been looking at putting TKM back into its historical context and figuring out how a white Southerner would have read this book. Of course, this article was written 40 years after the book was written, but it has given me hope that I may be able to find more about the history of the time period and the reaction of Southerners to this book.