Times Topics

Times Topics is one of my absolute favorite sites for helping students with their research. Look through the alphabetical list for thousands of headings. Here is the category for “language” as an example: that page contains links to every article in it over the past, well, 150 years, which has any significant mention of “language” in it. It’s not just a list, either, since if you scroll down you can “SEARCH 9159 ARTICLES ABOUT LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES.” A search for “Chaucer” within this yields 52 hits.

What I really find this helpful for, however, isn’t upper level lit classes, but introductions to literature and writing classes. Articles in the Times are well researched, so this is an authoritative source for them to use, but more than that they are well written. They provide neat models for student writing: they model how to introduce and quote sources, how sources are to be integrated, and when and how to draw conclusions from those sources. The newspaper also differentiates between review articles and news articles–opinions and reviews (as opposed to articles on the editorial page), since a few years ago, all have unjustified right margins.

I’ve had a print copy of the Times delivered to my door for decades; I spend much more time reading, I find, when I scan the print version than when I try to read it online, even with the nice Times Reader (though that’s a great way to do crosswords). It seems to me that the Times has done one of the best jobs of any paper in working to make it’s content accessible on-line. But the paper version remains better if only because the page is so much bigger than any screen, and you can scan a lot more information quickly that way. What really makes the web site great is the tools they have to scan through a great archive.


Author: Derrick Pitard

I teach medieval and early modern literature, the history of the language, introductions to literature, Latin, and writing at Slippery Rock University.

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