Before every database, we will ask: Who made it? How did they choose what items to include? How did they organize those items?
Browse EEBO term lists to begin mapping out keywords.
Find our sample text in EEBO. Continue mapping out keywords.
Find 2-3 secondary sources in the library catalog. Continue mapping out keywords.
Find 2-3 scholarly articles in the MLA Bibliography. Continue mapping out keywords. (Do you sense a pattern here?)
Take our keywords to JSTOR, Google Books, Google Scholar, and beyond.
Now that I have a piece, I'd like much more context about:
Scholarly books will give you excellent context. Make sure to limit your search only to Library Catalogs. Start with the pattern of time period and subject. Also try adding terms like (handbook* or companion* or guide) to find overviews or crit* to find secondary sources, usually with a literary or other critical theory approach. Farm the official subject headings for more terms and use parentheses and "or" to create searches like:
Always check the official subject headings for more ideas and a sense of the hierarchy of topics.
Book chapters and articles are generally on more specific topics than a book overview, so we'll start to really focus on the theme of our analysis. We will start with advanced subject terms in the MLA. Use the same pattern of time period plus subject terms, and always look at the subject terms attached to articles you like.
Now that you have a healthy list of keywords, use those in large, less-structured databases.