This subject guide provides an introduction to the English research resources that are available to you at the Geisel Library. For further research assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk in person or pose your question online at
Ask a Librarian.
Other guides that may be of interest to those studying English include:
Reference sources are useful in locating background information on authors and literary works, as well as the social issues, historical periods, and themes that inform the critical examination of literature.
The Geisel Library has reference materials in both electronic and print formats. Reference books are shelved by call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk on the Main Level of the library. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the library.
Select Electronic Reference Databases
Literature Resource Center
This database includes lengthy biographical profiles of authors, plot summaries, and literary criticism for thousands of novelists, poets, and other writers.
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 (among others) The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, The Concise Oxford Companion to British Language, The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics, The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, and A Dictionary of Writers and their Works.
Oxford English Dictionary
Ref PE1625 .O87 (print version)
The dictionary of the English language. Available in both print and electronic versions.
Gale Literary Index (GLI)
Use the GLI to see if your author or work is discussed in Gale's Literary Criticism Series in the Reference Collection. Geisel Library has volumes 1–151 of Contemporary Literary Criticism, volumes 1–96 of Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism, and volumes 1–114 of Twentieth Century Literary Criticism.
Select World Literature Reference Material
Ref PL8010 .A453
Covers African literature and writers from the late 19th century and 20th century.
Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English
This reference work "documents the history and development of this body of work and includes original research relating to the literatures of some 50 countries and territories. It explores the effect of the colonial and post-colonial experience on literatures in English worldwide."
Post-Colonial Studies: The Essential Glossary
Ref JV22 .T45
This glossary is a guide to the "various concepts, practices, and cultural products that have come to be known as 'post-colonial.'" It contains entries on "major figures, trends and movements, taking literature and literary theory as its central focus."
World Literature and Its Times Series
This multi-volume series focuses on "major fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from various geographic areas of the world" including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and India.
Select American Literature Reference Material
The African American National Biography
Ref E185.96 .A4466
This eight volume set profiles over 4,000 African-Americans and their contributions to culture and society.
American History Through Literature: 1820–1870
American History Through Literature: 1870–1920
These two electronic resources present "literature not as a simple inventory of authors or titles but rather as a historical and cultural field viewed from a wide array of contemporary perspectives. The set, which is 'new historicist' in its approach to literary criticism, endorses the notion that not only does history affect literature, but literature itself informs history."
American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies (13 volumes)
This collection contains lengthy essays including critical material on major American writers published between 1974–1998.
Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers: An A-to-Z Guide
Ref PS374.W6 C66
Provides overviews of over 60 American women writers who wrote or published their most significant works since 1945.
Select European Literature Reference Material
Columbia Guide to the Literatures of Eastern Europe Since 1945
Ref PN849.E9 S444
This reference work includes information on over 500 authors not readily found elsewhere.
European Writers (14 volumes)
Covers European writers from the medieval period to 1990.
Oxford Companion to Italian Literature
Provides assessments of Italian writers from the early 13th to the end of the 20th century.
Search the following databases to locate journal articles in the field of English. Many of the databases will require you to use WebBridge to locate the full text of an article. To learn how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins; includes audio).
If you would like to browse Geisel Library's collection of English-related print and electronic full text journals use Journal Finder to browse for journals using the subcategories for "Languages & Literatures" or "Journalism & Communication."
Core Library Databases for English Classes
Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text for a range of academic areas, including literature. Gain access to full-text as well as indexing and abstracting for a wide range of journal titles covering business, social sciences, humanities, general science, and education.
Literature Resource Center
Use this resource to search for 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 (MLA), this electronic index provides access to international scholarship in literature, language, linguistics, and folklore. (1963–present). User Guide
JSTOR contains the full text of back issues of major journals in the humanities and social sciences. Use this to locate articles in selected scholarly literature journals. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within five years of the current issue. JSTOR is an archive of back issues of selected journals such as American Literary History, American Literature, and Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900.
Project MUSE is a full text database that provides access to scholarly journal in the humanities and the social sciences. Coverage may extend back to 1993, but in most instances coverage begins in 1999.
A massive database covering a wide range of subjects, with full-text of scholarly journal articles, newspaper articles, and dissertations.
Other Library Databases for English Classes
America: History & Life
This database is an index covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. There are 1,700 journals indexed ranging from 1964 to present.
APh: L'Annee Philologique
This comprehensive index in classical studies indexes articles in hundreds of scholarly journals, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings and provides brief abstracts. Articles written in many European languages are indexed, but the interface language of the database is English. (1959–present)
Communication & Mass Media Complete
This database includes citations, abstracts, and full text articles covering subjects such as advertising, broadcasting, communications, journalism, language and speech, linguistics, marketing, mass media, newspaper publishing, television, and radio.
This is an electronic bibliography of secondary source material covering the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400–1700). User Guide Journal List (PDF/66KB)
If you have searched the Geisel Library Catalog but could not locate a book on your topic try searching WorldCat, a database that allows you to search the collections of libraries throughout the United States. When you locate a title of interest, click on the ILL icon in the book's catalog record to request the item through interlibrary loan. Your book(s) will be available for pickup in the library within 7–14 days. For assistance in using this database please Ask a Librarian.
This library of thousands of e-books spans across all scholarly disciplines. Books can either be opened in QuickView for instant viewing or in the ebrary Reader (a downloadable plug-in), which provides enhanced functionality such as the ability to copy/paste, highlight, or take notes in a particular book.
The following websites are a sampling of interesting Internet resources that may be useful in your studies. You may also want to conduct keyword searching in a search engine such as Google or Google Scholar, but be sure to look for indications that the website's information is authoritative, objective, and reliable. To learn more, see our guide on Evaluating Websites.
British Women Romantic Poets, 1789–1832
A collection of poetry written by women between 1789 and 1832, based on the Kohler Collection of English Poetry at the University of California-Davis. The scanned book pages are presented along with full text transcriptions.
Cambridge History of English and American Literature
An online version of the classic encyclopedia of English and American literature "derived from individual print editions of The Cambridge History of English Literature and The Cambridge History of American Literature, published between 1907 and 1921."
Literary Resources on the Net
A collection of links to websites organized by either time period or subject and primarily dealing with English and American literature.
The Modern English Collection
Hosted by the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library, this "heterogeneous collection contains fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, letters, newspapers, manuscripts and illustrations from 1500 to the present, arranged for browsing by author's last name or by category of interest." The "Modern English Collection" provides an archive of electronic texts and images by and about African Americans, Native Americans, Women Writers, and others.
New Chaucer Society
This website features the Online Chaucer Bibliography which includes materials from the Annotated Chaucer Bibliography (published annually in Studies in the Age of Chaucer). If you locate relevant articles in this catalog, search for full-text materials in one of the Geisel Library databases.
Voice of the Shuttle (VoS)
This website provides a "structured and briefly annotated guide to online resources" in the humanities. It organizes online resources according to subjects such as cultural studies, literature (in English and other languages), literary theory, and media studies and presents resources in general and specific categories.
The Web Concordances
Online concordances on selected English poetry, including works by Percy Blythe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.
Materials to Assist with Writing a Research Paper
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Ref LB2369 .G53
This handbook published by the Modern Language Association (MLA) is the authoritative guide for MLA documentation style.
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing
Ready Ref PN147 .G444
Provides information on stylistic aspects of research papers, theses, and dissertations, including sections on writing fundamentals, and MLA documentation style.