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Literatures in English: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Etc.

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

Calendars, Timelines, Atlases, Etc.

Oxford Reference Online Premium has over a dozen timelines for literature, art, science, war, several individual countries, etc.

The Oxford Guide to Literary Britain & Ireland. A gazeteer listing nearly 2000 places, listing their connections to British and Irish writers.  


The English Language - Dictionaries, Thesauri, Quotations, Corpora, Etc.

The Oxford English Dictionary.  The OED is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world. As a historical dictionary, the OED traces the history of individual words, and of the language, through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to films scripts and cookery books. 

The English Dictionaries and Thesauruses sub-set of Oxford Reference Online Premium allows for combined or separate searching of The Oxford Dictionary of English, The Concise OED, New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford American Dictionary of Current English, Oxford American Thesaurus of Current English, and several others.

Green's Dictionary of Slang. Covering five centuries of innovation in all English-speaking regions of the world, this dictionary is the most authoritative, scholarly approach to slang ever attempted. Over 100,000 words are defined; each word is authenticated by genuine and full-referenced citations of its use.

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. This 7th edition, 2009, edited by Elizabeth Knowles, includes over 20,000 quotations from the Classical period to the recent past.

Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations. 2nd ed. Ed. Hugh Raswon and Margaret Milner. Almost 6000 quotations offering a sample of American thought and culture.

Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. 3rd ed. Ed. Elizabeth Knowles. Over 5000 quotations from literary, cultural, and political figures around the world.

Corpus of Contemorary American English. The largest freely-available corpus of English, and the only large and balanced corpus of American English. Currently 425 million words in texts published through 2011.

A Dictionary of Confusable Phrases: More than 10,000 Idioms and Collocations. Compiled by Yuri Dolgopolov. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010.

​To see the Library's entire collection of English language dictionaries (print and online), type the subject heading English Language--Dictionaries in Roger

To find printed bilingual dictionaries in the Library's collections, use a SUBJECT search in Roger. Enter the name of the non-English language, followed by the word dictionaries, followed by the word English, for example:  Italian language--Dictionaries--English or English Language--Dictionaries--Albanian.

Literary Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Companions, Etc.

Oxford Reference Online Premium. Over 150 dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias from Oxford University Press, which may be searched in their entirety, within individual volumes, or within groups of volumes by subject, many of which include critiques of individual writers, surveys of larger topics, or entries on specific topics, such as Phrases & Fables or Literary Terms.

Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literature. 2010-     .

Includes 6 separate encyclopedias which can be browsed separately or searched together: The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (2016), The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory (2011),  The Encyclopedia of the Novel (2011), The Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature (2012), The Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature (2012), and The Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Fiction (2011). 

Cambridge Companions to Literature. More than 200 volumes in the Cambridge Companions series are included in Literature Online (LiON). These are not exactly reference books but, rather, surveys of research on various aspects of an author's work.

Panton, Kenneth J. Historical Dictionary of the British Empire. 2015.

A Companion to Crime Fiction. 2010.

Encyclopedia of the Novel  1998. (Also see a separate work with the same title  under Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia, above).

Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature 2011.

Historical Dictionary of Children's Literature 2010.

Oxford Companion to American Literature 2013.

Routledge Companion to World Literature. 2012.

Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. 2005. A newer edition is available in print format only at Geisel Stacks PN 3437 .O94 2015.

Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd edition. 2005

Drury, John. Poetry Dictionary. 2nd ed. 2006.

Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Imaginary and Mythical Places. 2014.

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 2nd edition. 2014

Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature 2006

Encyclopedia of the Vampire  2011

Thematic Guide to Modern Drama. 2007.

Encyclopedia of the Zombie.  2015

Carty, T.J. Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms in the English Language. 2nd edition. 2001.

The following titles are available only at UCSD in print but are worth coming to the library consult

The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. 3rd ed. 2006.  Geisel Reference PR 85 .C29

The Columbia Granger's Dictionary of Poetry Quotations. 1992 Geisel Reference PN 6082 .C57

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. 1990. Geisel Reference PR 113 .F46

Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia. 5th ed. 2008. Geisel Reference PN 41 .B4 Not as comprehensive for strictly literary terms and references as the others, but broader in its coverage of ancillary fields such as history, mythology, and art.

Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature. 1991 Geisel Stacks PS 21 .B46

Booker, M. Keith and Anne-Marie Thomas. The Science Fiction Handbook. 2009. Geisel Stacks PR 830 .S35 B66

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 19th edition, 2012.  Geisel Reference PN 43 .B65

Chambers, Robert. Cyclopaedia of English Literature. 1901-1903. 3 vols. Request from Annex. Useful primarily as a late Victorian/Edwardian perspective on English literature through the end of the 19th century.

Fowler, Alastair. Literary Names: Personal Names in English Literature. 2012. Geisel Stacks PR 149 .N25 F68

Rintoul, M.. Dictionary of Real People and Places in Fiction. 1993. Geisel Reference PN 56.47 .R56. Lists of real people and places provide characters and novel titles in which they are depicted.


Dictionaries of Literary & Theoretical Terms

Harmon, William. A Handbook to Literature. 12th edition. Boston: Longman, 2012. Geisel Research Assistance Desk (RAD) PN 41 .H355 2012  As the number of editions suggests, this is the classic handbook of literary terms, names, places, movements, etc.  

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. 3rd ed.

Castle, Gregory. The Literary Theory Handbook. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

Cuddon, J. A. and Rafey Habib. A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 5th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Earlier edition (print) available in Geisel stacks.

Dupriez, Bernard. A Dictionary of Literary Devices. Trans. and adapted by Alfred W. Halsall. Toronto: U Toronto P, 1991. Geisel Stacks (7th floor) PN 172 .D813 1991

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Kelly. New York; Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.

Ferber, Michael. A Dictionary of Literary Symbols. 2nd ed. Cambridge & NY: Cambridge UP, 2007. Geisel Reference PN 56 .S9 F47 2007

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. 4th edition. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012.

Key Concepts in Literary Theory. Comp. Julian Wolfreys, Ruth Robins, Kenneth Womack. (2nd ed., Edinburgh UP, 2006). Third edition, 2014, available in print only at PN 44.5 .W65 2014 / Geisel Reference.

Keywords in Subversive Film/Media Aesthetics . Robert Stam with Richard Porton and Leo Goldsmith. Chichester, U.K.; Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Ed. Tony Bennett, Lawrence Grossberg, and Meaghan Morris. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2008. A revised edition of Raymond Williams' Keywords, first published in 1985. Dictionary of terms used primarily in Cultural Studies. 

Orr, Leonard. A Dictionary of Critical Theory. NY: Greenwood Press, 1991. Geisel Stacks (7th floor) PN 98 .S6 O77 1991

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th edition. Princeton University Press, 2012.  See Roger for availability of earlier editions in print or digital formats.

Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory. 2nd ed. Ed. Paul Wake and Simon Malpas. Routledge, 2013. A print copy is in the stacks at PN 81 .R68 2013.

A Said Dictionary. Comp. R. Radhakrishnan. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2012.