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Literatures in English: Library Resources: Apps & Blogs

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


Poetry. Created by the Poetry Foundation, this app provides a collection of both canonical poems and lesser-known poems selected from Poetry magazine. Browsable by poet, subject, or "mood." A random poem is delivered when you shake your phone. FREE.

Poems by Heart. This app teaches how to memorize poetry, using a game approach. The first two preloaded poems are free, but four-poem bundles must be purchased for $0.99 each.  

The Sonnets of Shakespeare. Includes full texts of the 154 sonnets, notes and introduction from the Arden edition, additional commentary from poets and critics, and video performances by well-known actors. $3.99.

The Waste Land. This app contains the full text of Eliot's poem, a facsimile of the original manuscript, commetary by other poets and scholars, and audio (including one clip of Eliot's own reading of the poem), and a video of a choreographed performance of the poem by actress Fiona Shaw. $13.99 for iPad.


Rare Books and Manuscripts

E-codices. Created by the Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland, this app consists of a collection of zoomable images for more than 900 medieval and early modern manuscripts owned by Swiss libraries, searchable by century, language, library, and other methods. A detailed description of the manuscript and, in some cases, a bibliography of scholarship devoted to it, is included.  Free for iOS.

Treasures of the Bodleian.  Tihs app includes a wealth of high-res images of manuscripts and early editions owned by the Bodelian Library at Oxford University. A video introduction features several experts from Oxford discussing the importance and characteristics of many of the items shown. This is particularly useful for anyone planning a trip to Oxford. Free for iOS and Android.


Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley's Circle. Drawing on the New York Public Library's Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, this app provides a transcript of the 1831 edition and extensive commentary on the work, illuminating its creation, contemporary reactions to it, Shelley's relations with other authors of the period, and later stage and film adaptations; audio of selected portions of the text; maps of locations referred to; many visual images; and a short graphic novel based on Shelley's life. Free.  

Penguin Amplified Editions. Separate apps for Kerouac's On the Road and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Each includes the text, a critical introduction, notes, a biography of the author, audio clips (e.g., Kerouac reading from On the Road), and many images of documents, manuscripts, photographs, maps, etc. $16.99 each for iPad.

LOTR Project. A huge site devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, including timelines, detailed maps of Middle-Earth, genealogical charts for 900+ characters, and data visualizations showing everything from the life expectancy of a hobbit to the frequency with which characters appear in the same scene together. $1.50 for Android devices.


I am indebted to Amanda Watson, Librarian for English and Comparative Literature at New York University's Bobst Library, for her survey and selection of apps for literary study, published in the September 2013 issue of College & Research Libraries News.


The Tempest., Othello, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet.  Actors, scholars, and librarians from the Folger Shakespeare Library collaborated on these editions of the plays. Each app Includes the text, a recorded performance, commentary by Shakespeare scholars, and images from the Folger. Actors can use the "Roles" feature to see only the lines for a particular character. Developed by the Luminary Project and the Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame. Additional titles, including Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, are in the works.

Reading and Research

BrowZine. This app provides an interface for customizing your own collection (bookshelf) of current journals (and some literary reviews), bookmark specific articles, etc.

iAnnotate PDF. This app lets you view PDFs you've downloaded, mark them up with a wide range of tools (typed notes, freehand underlinings, even voice notes) and save your annotations. It can sync with Dropbox, a cloud storage app, so your notes can automatically update across multiple computers. You can download entire documents of PDFs, such as ebooks from Google Books or Hathi Trust. Free for Android, $9.99 for iPad.

Goodreads. Not really for literary study per se, but an app for sharing recommendations for reading, keeping your current to-read list, tracking your progress while reading, etc.  Free for iOS and Android, $0.99 for Kindle.


This page is in development. Stay tuned.