This guide defines Literature in a somewhat traditional, narrow way— as imaginative, written texts created for the most part by individuals who conceived of themselves at least in part as "writers"—and concentrates on literature written in the English language.
It focuses on resources relating to English-language literatures principally written for adults in the genres of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction prose and is primarily organized by general works and then by specific historical literary period (e.g. Early Modern) or geography (e.g. Australia and New Zealand). It does not try to be comprehensive for children's literature, popular fiction, theater history, the history of books, or cultural and historical background, other than what is covered in resources that are primarily literary. There is no separate page for sources that examine literature in relation to sociological factors such as gender or sexuality; resources in this area are included in other pages of this guide or other library guides (see the box at the right).
It excludes printed checklists of criticism intended primarily for undergraduate research, especially those which derived their citations from the MLA Bibliography or similar sources; most of these are now very out-of-date anyway.
This website attempts to be a fairly comprehensive listing of printed and digital resources available at the UCSD Library and, in some cases, to some that are available only at other libraries. Due to space and time limitations, however, the annotations are minimal (or nonexistent) and not evaluative. The most comprehensive, rigorously evaluative guide to research resources in English language literatures is the following, which is kept at the Geisel Library Reference DESK collection:
Traditionally, in literary studies the term "primary" sources refers to published or unpublished works of the author being studied; "secondary" sources to those that are written by others about the subject's life, work, influence, etc. However, the context may make this less rigid, especially when one "primary" author writes about another. A review by Virginia Woolf of a book of poems by T.S. Eliot would be a secondary source for Eliot but a primary source for Woolf. And in the broader cultural study of literature, the terms may have little distinction, as practically any text may exemplify the "primary" topic, and literary texts might be viewed as commentary on, or "secondary" to, the topic under consideration. Since this guide is organized around a traditional concept of literary study, primary and secondary are used as above.
With the exception of Google Books, packages of reference books from a particular publisher, and a few similar resources, the majority of online collections of full texts, whether primary or secondary, are limited to a particular historical period, national or ethnic origin, genre, and/or other parameters. Therefore, relevant collections of full texts are listed on each of the pages of this guide devoted to historical periods and/or national/ethnic categories within English-language literatures.