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Literatures in English: Library Resources: Bibliographies: Secondary

This page lists sources that cover multiple periods, genres, and/or nationalities. See additional resources in the "Historical Literary Period" and "Geographical Region" pages.

Finding Secondary Bibliographies in Roger

The word "Bibliography" can be added at the end of any Library of Congress Subject Heading in Roger, Melvyl, or WorldCat to discover if there is a book-length bibliography on that topic. This is true for individual authors, individual literary works in some cases, periods, or genres. Here are some examples:

Shakespeaere, William, 1564-1616--Bibliography.  (This will lead to bibliographies of PRIMARY works by Shakespeare, but may list secondary ones as well.)

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Criticism and Interpretation--Bibliography. This should lead to bibliographies that are mainly if not entirely of secondary sources.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Coriolanus--Bibliography.  A bibliography of criticism, and possibly of various editions, of one particular literary work.

English Literature--18th Century--Bibliography

English Drama--17th Century--Bibliography

American Fiction--19th Century--Bibliography

American Literature--African American Authors--Bibliography

Caribbean Literature--Bibliography

Homosexuality in Literature--Bibliography

Some reference books or websites devoted to literature combine biographical and bibliographical information in roughly equal amounts. The word "Bio-Bibliography" is usually added to a non-personal subject heading for this kind of resource, for example:

Irish Literature--Bio-Bibliography

What about Google?

Google and, specifically, Google Books and Google Scholar, can be very useful for a scholar. But Google Books often has frustratingly incomplete texts of works, particularly for those that are still under copyright or are so-called orphan works (technically under copyright, but where the copyright owner cannot be determined or found)*. Furthermore, results in Google are largely determined by the keywords you happen to use; thus you may miss valuable citations to both books and articles that use words other than those you searched with. Google also generally lacks the principles of selection which went into the compilation of most scholarly bibliographies, and lacks the annotations that accompany the citations in scholarly bibliographies. In short, you will be missing an extraordinary amount of relevant scholarly literature (and primary sources) by limiting your research to Google or other Internet search engines.

* See the Copyright (History and Current Law) page of this guide for more information.

Bibliographies & Databases of Secondary Literature

There are two databases that attempt to be comprehensive in their indexing of scholarly literature about English-language literatures. A chief difference is that the MLAIB attempts to be comprehensive for ALL modern literatures, not just those in English, whereas ABELL is limited to English-language literatures. ABELL may do a slightly better job of indexing British periodicals, especially smaller or regional ones. It also includes citations to scholarly book reviews, whereas MLAIB has a policy not to index book, film, or theater performance reviews.  Neither database has the full texts of ANY of the documents they index included. However, the UC Libraries have added links (UC eLinks, orange boxes adjacent to each citation) which link outward to any available full-text resource in which the document may appear as well as to the online catalogs of UCSD (Roger) and the UC system (Melvyl) so you can determine if the Library has a copy of the journal or book in print format.

MLA (Modern Language Association) International Bibliography (MLAIB) Excellent coverage of journal articles from around the world on all modern literatures (i.e., not ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc.), linguistics, folklore, and some aspects of film and performance studies. Some journals are indexed back to their beginnings in the nineteenth century. Includes more monographs and essays in collections than it once did, but not comprehensive in this regard, meaning that reference to relevant print bibliographies is still important to insure a thorough review of the relevant scholarship. To view a short video on searching MLAIB effectively, click here.

Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature Index of journal articles, books, collections of essays, new scholarly editions, and book reviews on English-language literature and linguistics going back to 1920.

Literature Compass. Not a bibliography, but an online review journal containing frequent survey articles on the scholarship in all areas of English-language literature. UCSD Professor Shelley Streeby is on the Editorial Board for American literature.


Arts & Humanities Citation Index. (It will look like you are accessing the full Web of Science database, but this link is to the sub-set that corresponds to what was formerly called Arts & Humanities Citation Index.)  A&HCI (Web of Science) provides author, keyword, and cited reference searching from more than 1100 leading arts and humanities journals, including literature and cultural studies. Useful for finding articles that have cited a book or article that is itself important to your research topic.

The Year's Work in English Studies is not an enumerative bibliography, but a series of surveys of the scholarship on the various periods of English and American literature. Click on link to see availability of online and print volumes.

American Literary Scholarship is also a collection of scholarly reviews of the previous year's scholarship in all periods and genres of American literature, with some chapters devoted to single authors or groups of similar authors. Click on link to see availability of online and print volumes.

The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. Oxford University Press. Although an online resource, this is not a cumulated bibliography: you must search the relevant chapters in each annual issue of the journal. Available from volume 1, 1991 to the most recent year published.   

Humanities International Complete. This database is not nearly as comprehensive for English literature as the first two titles, but for those journals it does index it includes full texts of the articles within the database. It is also a useful starting place when doing research in a very interdisciplinary topic, since it indexes core journals in all the humanities. But keep in mind that all of those individual disciplines have bibliographies that are more comprehensive for their areas.