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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.
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
The OED is a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past. It contains etymologies, definitions, pronunciations, history and quotes for words in the English language. [Also available: the OED 1989 print edition.]
Guides to Literary Study, Theory, and Language
A Glossary of Literary Terms by
Call Number: PN41 .A184 2012 Reference
Publication Date: 2012
Contains a complete glossary of essential literary terms presented as a series of engaging essays that explore the terms, place them in context, and suggest related entries and additional reading.
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by
Call Number: PE1106 .H74 2002 Reference
Publication Date: 2002
Each chapter comprises core definitions, detailed analyses, notes explaining alternative interpretations of difficult or controversial points, and brief notes on usage and history. Numerous cross-references and an exhaustive index ensure ease of access to information. An introductory section offers guidance as to how best to use the book is provided.
Literary Research Guide by
Call Number: PR83 .H34 2002 Reference
Publication Date: 2006
Evaluates important reference materials in English studies. The annotations describe the type of work, its scope, its major limitations, and its organization; present parts of a typical entry in the work; evaluate coverage, organization, and accuracy; explain the work's uses in research.
Search the 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 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:
- Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
- Fact books
- Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
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
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism
A full-text searchable database of articles on individual critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods. It also treats related persons and fields that have been shaped by or have themselves shaped literary theory and criticism. Each entry includes a selective primary and secondary bibliography.
Pro tip: don't rely on search alone! Browse the contents and topic list to get a better sense of which articles will be most helpful.
Additional Online Reference Resources
Contains the full-text of several Gale reference works related to the study of literature, including Arts and Humanities through the Eras; The Literature of Autobiographical Narrative, and more.
Contains the full text of more than three dozen Oxford encyclopedias related to the study of literature, ranging from the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare to the Oxford Dictionary of Critical Theory and much, much more.
Poetry & Short Story Reference Center
A collection of full-text poetry, short stories, and supplemental content, as well as biographies and authoritative essays on such topics as poetic forms, movements and techniques.
Biography Reference Center
A collection of full-text biographies, including the complete full-text run of Biography Today and Biography.