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Research starting points for English Studies

New Titles in Collins Library!

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Call Numbers to Browse

If you're interested in a broad topic in English Studies, or would like to browse for inspiration, try one of these Library of Congress call letters:

  • PE: History and usage of the English language
  • PN: Literature (General)
  • PR: English literature
    • PR1490-1799 Anglo-Saxon literature
      PR1803-2165 Anglo-Norman period. Early English. Middle English
      PR2199-3195 English renaissance (1500-1640)
      PR3291-3785 17th and 18th centuries (1640-1770)
      PR3991-5990 19th century, 1770/1800-1890/1900
      PR6000-6049 1900-1960
      PR6050-6076 1961-2000
      PR6100-6126 2001-
      PR8309-9680 Literature in English
  • PS: American literature
    • PS700-893 Colonial period (17th and 18th centuries)
      PS991-(3390) 19th century
      PS3500-3549 1900-1960
      PS3550-3576 1961-2000
      PS3600-3626 2001-
      PS(8001-8599) Canadian literature

These books can be found on the third floor of the library.

Locations of books

  • New books are located in the Library lobby and are in call number order.
  • Print Reference books are on the first floor across from the Learning Commons area.
  • Book stacks: Consult the library map; look for location posters; or ask any staff member for help!

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

Collins Library, like most academic libraries in the United States, uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the content of books.  If you are researching an author about whom much has been written, you can use Library of Congress Subject subheadings to help pinpoint your search.

You only need to be an observant user of Primo -- not an expert in the use of subject headings -- to make them work for you. Availing yourself of frequently used subject headings will help you locate secondary sources easily. The most frequently used sub-heading for interpretive criticism is "criticism and interpretation". If you want to expand your search to include historical, political, and other forms of analysis, add (criticism OR history) to your search instead.

Here are several examples, centered on Jane Austen and her works, of the various ways you can use LCSH to help pinpoint what you need:

Austen, Jane, 1775-1817 -- Criticism and interpretation.

Austen, Jane, 1775-1817. Pride and prejudice.

Austen, Jane, 1775-1817 -- Political and social views.

Austen, Jane, 1775-1817 -- Influence.

Women and literature -- England -- History -- 19th century.

English literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.


Sometimes you may need to search more broadly; not for resources related to a specific author or work but for criticism of a theme or genre. Subject headings can also help you find books and other resources related to:


In other words, be adventurous! Try several different subject headings (solo and in combination with one another) when exploring resources in Primo. You'll be surprised at what you discover!


E-books in Collins Library are fully integrated into Primo Search! 

Consult the e-books guide to find out more about finding and using our growing e-book collection.

Book Reviews for Literary Works

Reviews of literary works can be found in a variety of places.  Here are some publications to start with for reviews of contemporary literature.

Using Biographies

Biographies have many uses in literary research beyond simply summarizing facts about an author. Additionally, biographies offer information that can help you position a work historically, study the reception of an author's work(s), or analyze the relationship between an author's life and their works.

To search Primo for book-length biographies of authors, do a subject search for the author's name.

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!

Katy Curtis, Humanities Librarian
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

For immediate assistance, connect to our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat service.