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English-Language Literature: Library Resources  

This guide is intended to direct graduate students and upper-level undergraduates to the principal research tools for the study of English-language literature available or accessible in the UCSD Library.
Last Updated: Jul 1, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Comprehensive Guide to Research Resources

This guide 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:

Harner, James L. Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Sources. 5th edition. New York: MLA, 2008. Geisel Reference DESK PR 83 .H34 2008.  For information about ordering a personal copy (which I recommend) click here

Not as recent or thorough as Harner, but possibly worth consulting:

Reference Guide to English Literature. 2nd ed. Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. Chicago: St. James P, 1991. PR 106 .S7 1991


Layout of the Pages

I have tried to use consistent colors for the box headers on each page: red for secondrary bibliographies (including article databases), blue for bibliographies of primary sources, green for dictionaries and encyclopedias, purple for collections of online full texts, yellow for links to other useful related websites, and orange for miscellaneous types of resources (e.g., Annals) or specific topics (e.g. a particular major author). On some pages, not all of these categories apply.

NOT ALL BOXES ARE VISIBLE from the top of the page. Please scroll down to see if there are additional boxes than the ones that are visible at the top.


Introduction to this Guide : Please Read!

This Guide contains information about and links to various types of resources--both online and in print (but mostly online)-- including bibliographies, full-text databases, biographical sources, other factual and reference resources, other Web megasites, and some links to specialized websites. The first row of tabs lead to resources that are relevent to all or at least multiple nationalities and periods of English-language literature. The second, third. and fourth rows of tabs lead to resources that are more focussed on particular time periods and/or geographical regions. The fifth and sixth rows of tabs provide links to selected information about libraries in general and the UCSD and UC libraries in particular that are likely to be of use to scholars and students of English-language literatures.

I strongly advise you to consult at least two tabs of this guide to find resources for your area of interest: use one or more of the general tabs on the top row, and then use one of the tabs on the second, third, or fourth rows for the particular area of English-language literature that is relevant for your topic. The period- or geographicacal-specific tabs don't generally repeat all of the useful basic resources listed in the top row of tabs.

All print books--all of which are still useful, and some essential--are located in Geisel Library unless otherwise indicated.

This guide defines Literature in a somewhat traditional, narrow way--i.e. as imaginative, written texts created for the most part by individuals who conceived of themselves at least in part as "writers"--and is focused on literature written in the English language. For resources on literature conceived in a broader cultural context, literatures written in other languages, and disciplines ancillary to Literature, consult the following LibGuides: Classical Studies   Critical Gender Studies  Ethnic Studies   European Studies  Film Studies  Latin American Studies  Theater & Dance 



Primary or Secondary?

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 reivew 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. 


What's Not Included in this Guide

This guide focuses on resources relating to English-language literatures principally written for adults in the genres of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-ficton prose and is primarily organized by general works and then by specific historical literary period. It does not try to be comprehensive for children's literature, genre fiction, theater history, the history of books, or cultural and historical background, other than what is covered in resources that are primarily literary in nature.

There is no separate page for examining literature in relation to gender or sexuality; resources in this area are included in other pages. 

It excludes printed checklists of criticism intended primarily for undergraduate research, especially those which derived their citations primarily from the MLA International Bibliography or similar sources; most of these are now very out-of-date anyway.


Online Collections of Full Texts

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. 


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