Skip to main content

ENGLISH: SUBJECT GUIDE: Getting Started

Research starting points for English Studies

Guides to Literary Research

Each volume in the Literary Research series published by Scarecrow Press discusses resources for both primary and secondary research. Below are some representative examples.

Cambridge Histories

The Cambridge Histories series is an indispensable reference collection with over 300 titles spanning 15 subject areas, including literary studies. Each (often multi-volume) history provides a big-picture perspective of its subject, introduces readers to existing scholarship, and proposes new trends in the field. Below are some representative examples at Collins.

Oxford English Dictionary Online

Oxford English Dictionary

Guides to Literary Study, Theory, and Language

Search the Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center is a full-text database of author biographies, selected literary criticism and reviews, and topic overviews.  Some literary texts are also available.  If you're not sure where to start with an author or specific literary text, the LRC can help you get your foot in the door! Use LRC and the other resources on this page to help you find background information, approach subjects that are new to you, or put a text or author in a larger perspective.

Literature Criticism Online

Literature Criticism Online

Literature Criticism Online includes overviews by topic (e.g., American autobiography; the Gothic novel; imperialism), author (e.g., Shakespeare; Henry James; Margaret Atwood; ), and work (e.g., Bleak House; Infinite Jest), as well as excerpts from articles, books, and essays written by scholars.  It is a very useful tool for discerning key trends in scholarly interpretation.  Each excerpt includes full bibliographic information so that you can track down the original sources.

What's a tertiary source?

Tertiary sources are excellent starting points!  They consist of information synthesized from primary and secondary sources.  Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks

These resources give you succinct overviews of your topic, explain scholarly arguments, point out interesting questions, and refer you to especially key sources. 

Literary Theory & Criticism

Additional Online Reference Resources

Need Help?

This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you.  If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!


Katherine "Katy" Curtis, Humanities Librarian
email: kcurtis@pugetsound.edu
Schedule an appointment
tel: (253) 879-3672
office:  Collins Library 140

If you can't find Katy, remember there are several ways to get help with your research

And don't forget about the Ask a Librarian 24/7 service: Anytime, anywhere! This instant messaging reference service lets you chat with a librarian no matter what time it is. Puget Sound librarians can email you to follow up if you leave your email address.