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EN 104 - The Emotional and Intellectual Pleasures of Poetry


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to poetry in the Geisel Library. It is meant as a starting point for your research. For further research assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk in person or pose your question online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of webpages named Research Help, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics that walks you through the seven steps of doing successful college-level research. Please take advantage of these resources.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference books are shelved by call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. Online reference sources can be found in the library catalog or listed on the E-Reference Resources page. Use reference resources to find background information on authors and literary works, as well as the social issues, historical periods, and themes being addressed in this course.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find overviews on a wide variety of topics by searching this online encyclopedia. This is a good source for obtaining background info on authors and finding good keywords that represent your topic.

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
Find entries on poetry, poetics, and oral traditions.
     Ref CB9 .N49 (print version)

Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
Word meanings change over time—the OED can be useful for investigating the wide range of meanings when you are explicating a poem.

Oxford Reference Online
This database enables you to search within many of Oxford's highly-regarded reference works in the fields of literature and history, including the Oxford Companion to 20th Century Poetry in English, OxfordCompanion to American Literature, Oxford Companion to English Literature, and A Dictionary of Writers and Their Works.

Literary Theory and Symbolism

These reference sources can help you understand the terminology you encounter in literary criticism, as well as interpret the meaning of symbols in literary works.

Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms
     Ref PN 41.F6

Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Cuddon)
     Ref PN41 .C83

Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs (2 vols.)
     Ref PN43 .D48

Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory
     Ref PN44.5 .H37

Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary
     Ref CB475 .O38

Literary Criticism and Author Biographies

Literature Resource Center
This database includes lengthy biographical profiles of authors, plot summaries, and literary criticism for over 90,000 novelists, poets, and other writers. This resource also provides the full text of articles from more than 100 literary journals.   User Guide

American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies (13 vols.)
     Ref PS129 .A55

Literary Criticism Series
     Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref PN94 .C65)
     Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (Ref PN761 .N56)
     Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (Ref PN94 .T83)
To find out the volumes in which your author or literary work are covered, use the Gale Literary Index.

Twentieth-Century American Literature (8 vols.)
     Ref PS221.T843

Poetry Reference Sources

Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry
     Ref PN 1021 .G7

The Concise Encyclopedia of English and American Poets and Poetry
     Ref PR 19.S6

Encyclopedia of American Poetry the Nineteenth Century
     Ref PS 323.5 E63 1998

Encyclopedia of American Poetry the Twentieth Century
     Ref PS 323.5 E63 2001

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
     Ref PN 1021 .N39

The Poet's Dictionary
     Ref PN 44.5 R3


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Find Books/Secondary Sources

Examples of subject headings to search in the Catalog:

Try searching some of these phrases as Subject Headings in the catalog. This method often finds a higher percentage of books that are directly relevant to a particular topic. If you are researching a particular author or work, try searching the author's name as a Subject to locate biographies and literary criticism.

AUTHOR (books written by): examples—

  • (last name, first name)
  • Whitman, Walt
  • Plath, Sylvia

SUBJECTS (books written about): examples—

  • American poetry - 20th century
  • English poetry - 19th century - History and criticism
  • Irish poetry - 20th century
  • Poetry - Authorship
  • Poets, American (etc.)
  • Symbolism in literature
  • (author last name, first name)

Keywords to consider when using the Catalog:

  • History and criticism (use with author name or setting)
  • Biography (use with author name)
  • Author name (first name last name)

Use the * (asterisk) as a truncation symbol to retrieve variant forms of a word root. Use the Boolean OR to expand your search by including synonyms and related terms. When using two different Boolean commands in the same search statement ("and" and "or" in the preceding examples) you must include parentheses to indicate which command is to be performed first.

If you are unable to locate enough materials in the Geisel Library catalog, search the collections of libraries worldwide using WorldCat. This enables you to identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use, via our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service. Try searching on the same keywords and subject headings that you used in the library catalog. If you find a relevant book, click on the title and look for the Request ILL link. Once you submit the request, the book is typically delivered to Geisel Library within 7–8 days.


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Find Journal Articles

Below are several databases that may yield useful journal articles for your research. Some focus on literary criticism while others will provide historical and socio-cultural context for the literature. Try searching on the same keywords that you used in the book catalog. Remember to use Boolean operators and wildcards (the asterisk symbol) to improve your search.

In the results screen, if there is no full-text link readily available, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your email inbox within about a week.

Literature Resource Center
Find biographical information on authors, as well as bibliographies, plot summaries, and literary criticism of their works. This resource also provides the full text of articles from more than 100 literary journals.    User Guide

MLA International Bibliography
Produced by the Modern Language Association of America, this electronic index consists of bibliographic records pertaining to literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.

Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text for a range of academic areas, including literature, politics, and sociology.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Recent articles and book reviews on a variety of subjects related to poetry.

America:  History and Life
Provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present.

Historical Abstracts
This index provides abstracts to key history journals from around the globe, covering world history from 1450 to the present (excluding North America, which is covered in America: History & Life).

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.    User Guide

Project MUSE
This database offers all full-text articles from over 300 peer-reviewed journals; subjects include humanities, arts, medicine, mathematics, social sciences, and more.

This sociology database provides full-text articles from journals, books, monographs, and conference papers. Coverage is of all subdisciplines of sociology, including criminal justice, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, social psychology, urban studies, and more.


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Spoken Word Resources

Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Reading Their Work, 1888–2006
     Krantz CD collection CD 1634

PennSound - Author Index
University of Pennsylvania

The Poetry Archive

Poetry Out Loud
National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation

Poetry Out Loud - Poems to Make, Watch, and Hear
Full text of many well and lesser know American poems. Also has extensive links to streaming audio to many poets, including Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.


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Selected Websites

American Verse Project
Provides full-text access to volumes of American poetry published prior to 1920.

Audio Interviews from the BBC
Recordings of Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Graves, and many more.

Favorite Poem Project
Boston University and The Library of Congress

Exploring the Waste Land
This site is a learning resource allowing deep exploration into T.S.Eliot's poem "The Waste Land".

Modern American Poetry
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne

The Poetry Foundation

Verse at Bartleby.Com
The "verse" section at Bartleby provides access to the full text of numerous anthologies and collections of poetry, from Virgil and Milton to Eliot and Frost.

Voice of the Shuttle


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Citing Sources

MLA is the citation style required in this class. The library has both print and electronic versions of MLA citation guides available, or ask a librarian for assistance.


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