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English Literature: Getting Started


This guide will introduce you to major resources in British literature. My contact information is at the right; please get in touch if you have questions or need research help.

Ellesmere Chaucer

Chaucer in the Ellesmere manuscript, Huntington Library (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Guides to Research

Use research guides to help you map out major projects.

Literary Research Series: A series of books and e-books focusing on research strategies and sources in a specific region or time period. The list of titles is available in GIL-Find.

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Use reference sources for definitions and concise overviews of literary works, authors, theories, and historical context.

Studying for comprehensive examinations or need an overview of literature from a certain country, time period, or movement? Try the Cambridge companions or Oxford handbooks or companions to literature.

Oxford English Dictionary: The authoritative historical dictionary of the English language.

Middle English Compendium: The largest dictionary of Middle English plus a corpus of texts and a bibliography.

A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory and Key Terms in Literary Theory: Two dictionaries with concise explanations of theory and terminology.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: The 4th edition of the standard reference source on poetic terms, forms, genres, movements, and national literatures. Does not include entries on poets or their works, although they may be covered in related entries.

Literary Reference Center: Includes the Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature, Continuum History of British Literature, and more.

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism: Extensive essays on major critics, movements, and schools of thought.

The Literary Encyclopedia: A new dictionary with essays on authors worldwide; new authors are being added regularly.

Literature Resource Center: Contains several major biographical dictionaries, including The Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Authors, and the Twayne's Author Series.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism: Interdisciplinary entries on the Modernist period.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: The standard biographical reference on persons who have had lasting importance in British history and culture from all fields, time periods, and countries.

Annual Register: An annual volume detailing events in the history, politics, economy, religion, and culture of the year worldwide with a focus on Great Britain. Available in HathiTrust 1758-1837 and 1837-1922. Available on the 4th floor of the library at call number D2 .A615 for the years 1758-2006.


Your Librarian

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Sheila Devaney
Research & Instruction Department
Main Library
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