The study of the sources of, or influences upon, a literary work.

Late 19th century; earliest use found in American Journal of Philology. From German Quellenforschung from Quellen-, combining form of Quelle source + Forschung investigation, research (Old High German forscunga, Middle High German vorschunge) from forschen to search (for), to conduct research + -ung.

Via Oxford English Dictionary.

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