Skip to Main Content

CMP102 - Composition 2 - Buscemi

Coordinator of Public Services, Lynn Campus

Profile Photo
Torrey Dukes
North Shore Community College
Lynn Campus Library
1 Ferncroft Rd
Danvers, MA 01923

Off Campus Access

NSCC logo​​​Access to many of the database links on this guide requires NSCC authentication - users must sign in with their NSCC My Northshore (formerly Pipeline) username & password

Researching Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

For your assignment, you are asked to make an argument about Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within its larger Victorian context. To do this, you will look at the novella in terms of Victorian concerns regarding evolution, degeneration, class, and maintaining respectability.

In order to find sources on these topics in the Library's databases, you will have to come up with search terms that represent these ideas. When you search a library database for say, degeneration, the results you get are not about degeneration. Because of this, you will have to try more than one search using different keywords. I've included some possible keywords below that you can use while searching. 

Keep in mind that you will not always get the results you need. Be persistent and flexible. Keep trying and if you need help reach out to us at the Library.  Librarians are available to assist you online and in-person.

Evolution / Degeneration
Degeneration / degenerate Social corruption Hereditary / Hereditary taint
Benedict Morel Atavism / atavist Inheritance
Max Nordau Primitive / savage Scientific racism
Emile Zola Deviance / decline Devolution
Cesare Lombroso Retrogression Eugenics
Herbert Spencer Decay / deterioration Ethnicity
John Blumenbach Anthropometry Social Darwinism


Class / Maintaining Respectability
Good Evil / sinister Class
Civilized Degenerate / Deviant Social status
Moral Remorseless  Middle class / Bourgeoisie 
Respectable Barbaric / primitive / savage Elite / upper class
Trustworthy Vagrancy Working class / proletariat 
Sociable Criminal Poor / destitute / indigent 
  Vices / Self indulgent / Urges  

You can search thousands of journals, magazines, and newspapers for articles on your topic using the Library's databases. Each of the Library's databases indexes different sources letting you search using keywords. When searching the databases, you can type in your keywords and search the content of thousands of articles. The database will give you a list of articles that contain your keywords, and you can click on the title of the article to get more information. Most of the databases have a feature that allows you to email the article and the citation to yourself for your works cited page.

When searching the Library’s databases for resources on your topic, you want to choose your keywords carefully. These words will help you find the information you need quickly. Take a moment and think about your topic. Write down all the words and phrases you can think of. This Brainstorming will help you find and organize your information.

Victorian Culture, Science, & Society


"The Italian anthropologist/criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909) - who wrote on the connection between genius and insanity - proposed a theory of criminality in the late 19th century (cf., Lombroso's atavistic theory - the outdated conjecture that some people are more like their distant ancestors than they are to their parents). According to Lombroso's type theory, criminals are throwbacks to prehuman evolution; he considered the physical characteristics of criminals to resemble the characteristics of prehistoric humans. For example, Lombroso argued that people with a receding chin, flattened nose, and low, flat forehead or other features of earlier forms of human life are more likely to be criminals. Lombroso showed that there is a relatively high incidence of these features among persons in jail. According to this approach, criminals are deformed physically and may, therefore, be identified easily. A variation on Lombroso's theory in 1888 is called the degeneracy theory of genius and refers to the overdevelopment of certain capacities or traits that are accompanied by various defects, indicating an instability of organization pointing toward degeneration. In this version, Lombroso suggested the innate disposition to criminal behavior as being associated with degeneration of hereditary cells, and he maintained that most criminals have physical signs (“stigmata of degeneration”) indicating the innate, constitutional disposition to crime. Surprisingly, for a while, the Lombrosian theory was widely accepted, in spite of the fact that there was an equally high incidence of “criminal features” among non-criminal populations as there was among criminal populations."

Source: Lombrosian Theory. (2006). In J. E. Roeckelein (Ed.), Elsevier's dictionary of psychological theories. Elsevier Science & Technology. Credo Reference:

When researching degeneration, try some of the keywords listed below to locate resources in the Library's databases.

Evolution / Degeneration
Degeneration/degenerate               Social corruption Hereditary / Hereditary taint      
Benedict Morel Atavism / atavist Inheritance
Max Nordau Primitive / savage Scientific racism
Emile Zola Deviance / decline Devolution
Cesare Lombroso Retrogression Eugenics
Herbert Spencer Decay/deterioration               Ethnicity
John Blumenbach  Anthropometry Social Darwinism