English and American Literature: Getting Started

Research Guides

Available from:
Butler Reference Desk, 307 Butler - Ask at desk (Non-Circ)
Call Number: R016.82 H23

US History & Literature Reading Rm, 502 Butler (Non-Circ)
Call Number: Z2011 .H34 2008

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Companions

  • The Cambridge Companions to Literature and Classics
    The Cambridge Companions to Literature and Classics collection offers thousands of comprehensive and accessible essays on major authors, periods and genres, written by experts and designed for student readers. For the author Companions, each writer is placed in literary and historical context; their major works are analysed,either in separate chapters or grouped according to theme, and their influence on later writers assessed.
  • Cayton, Mary Kupiec and Peter W. Williams, editors. Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History. 3 vols. (New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons, c2001).
    Location :  Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number:  R973.92 En19
    additional Location : US History & Literature Reading Rm, 502 Butler (Non-Circ)
    Call Number:  E169.1 .E624 2001
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Includes online full text of a wide range of encyclopedic works in history, the arts, business, law, medicine, religion, and social science. A number of the encyclopedias linked from this page are included in this database.
  • Groden, Michael Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman. The Johns Hopkins guide to literary theory & criticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005-2012).
    "An indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. Compiled by 275 specialists from around the world, the Guide presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field's most important figures, schools, and movements and is updated annually. It includes more than 300 alphabetically arranged entries and subentries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods."
  • Hart, James David ; with revisions and additions by Phillip W. Leininger. The Oxford companion to American literature. 6th ed. (New York : Oxford University Press, 1995).
    Location: Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number: R803.1 Ox2146
  • Head, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge guide to literature in English. 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2006).
    Location: Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number: R803.2 C1442
  • Kastan, David Scott, editor in chief. The Oxford encyclopedia of British literature. 5 vols.  (Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006).
    Location: Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number: R820 Ox2
  • Lexicons of Early Modern English: LEME  (Uniersity of Toronto Press)
    "A a historical database of monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries, lexical encyclopedias, hard-word glossaries, spelling lists, and lexically-valuable treatises surviving in print or manuscript from the Tudor, Stuart, Caroline, Commonwealth, and Restoration periods." (from publisher's description)
  • OED online (also known as: Oxford English Dictionary Online)
    The largest dictionary and most complete historical record of the English language.
  • Oxford bibliographies
  • Oxford handbooks online
  • Oxford Reference
    "Bringing together 2 million digitized entries across Oxford’s Dictionaries, Companions and Encyclopedias, Oxford Reference is the premier online reference product, spanning 25 different subject areas."
  • Parini, Jay, editor-in-chief. The Oxford encyclopedia of American literature. 4 vols. : ill. (New York : Oxford University Press, 2004).
    Location: Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number:  R810.3 Ox2
    additional Location:  US History & Literature Reading Rm, 502 Butler
    Call Number:  PS21 .E537 2004


  • Bibliography of American Literature (ProQuest)
    "Recognised as one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship, the Bibliography of American Literature describes in exhaustive detail the works of America's most important literary writers from the time of the Revolution to 1930. More than 37,000 works are listed, essentially the complete printed record of American literature from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."

  • English Short Title Catalogue (British Library)
    "The 'English Short Title Catalogue' (ESTC) covers letterpress books, pamphlets, newspapers, serials, and a variety of ephemera: printed before 1801; printed in the British Isles, Colonial America, United States of America (1776-1800), Canada, or territories governed by England or Britain before 1801, in all languages; printed in any other part of the world, wholly or partly in English or other British vernaculars; or with false imprints claiming publication in Britain or its territories, in any language."

Compilations of Literary Criticism

Literature criticism online 
For authors from the classical world up through our own times, this resource gathers together a wide range of critical essays and
excerpts from criticism. Critical writings are typically drawn from a wide chronological range--beginning with an author's contemporaries or near contemporaries.