Research in English Literature

Starting Research in English Literature

The following is a selected list of resources for starting research in English literature. For further assistance, contact Jeff Staiger at jstaiger@uoregon.edu.

Background, Overviews, and Terms

  • Oxford Reference Premium - Select -- > Literature Many of the best reference tools for literature all together and searchable at once, including The Oxford Companion to American Literature, The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, and many more. Use this to find information about authors, movements, periods, genres, theories, terms, historical context, and plot summaries.
  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism Provides encyclopedia-like entries of critical trends and theories. Also includes overviews of particular critics' publications and influence. Also available in print: KNIGHT REFERENCE PN81 .J554 2005.
  • Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies KNIGHT REFERENCE PR83 .H37. James Harner's excellent guide lists and evaluates important reference materials in English studies. Annotations describe the type of work, its scope, its major limitations, and its organization, and explain the work's uses in research.
  • Oxford English Dictionary Use this for comprehensive histories and definitions of words in the English language.

Research Methods

Author Information

  • Library Catalog
    • Search for the author as a subject (e.g., shakespeare, william). Works by and about the author will be shelved together.
  • Literature Resource Center
    Provides easy access to scholarly research on authors and literary works. Includes criticism, biographies, bibliographies, work overviews and explications, and journal articles.
  • British Writers | KNIGHT REFERENCE PR85.B688 | An eight-volume encyclopedia of British writers from the earliest days to World War II.

Finding Books

  • UO Local Catalog | Search just the UO Libraries' holdings.
    • Browse the shelves in Knight Library
      The English literature section is arranged chronologically and thematically on the 4th floor of Knight Library. Books about authors are shelved with their works.
      • Medieval literature - PR 1490 through PR 2165
      • Renaissance prose and poetry (1500 - 1640) - PR 2200 through PR 2405
      • Renaissance drama (1500 - 1640) - PR 2417 through PR 3195
      • Authors writing 1640 - 1770 - PR 3300 through PR 3785
      • Authors writing 1770 - 1900 - PR 4000 through PR 5925
      • Authors who began to publish first half of the 20th century - PR 6001 through PR 6049
      • Recent (last 50 years) novels, poetry, drama - PR 6051 through PR 6076
  • UO WorldCat | Search the UO Libraries, the Summit system (Northwest libraries), and libraries worldwide. Use this system to request items not owned by UO Libraries.
  • Early English Books Online (EEBO) Contains digitized facsimiles of all printed materials published in Great Britain between 1473 and 1700, and materials published elsewhere in the world in English during the same period. Materials include books, tracts, pamphlets, advertisements, ballads, rhymes, and other ephemera.
  • Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) Claims to include every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in Great Britain during the eighteenth century (1701-1800), along with thousands of important works from the Americas. Includes a variety of materials from books and directories, Bibles, sheet music and sermons to advertisements and works by many well-known and lesser-known authors.

Literary Criticism & Articles

  • Academic Search Premier Indexes more than 8,000 publications, with full text for approximately 4,600. ASP focuses on academic, social sciences, humanities, general science, education and multi-cultural journals, with over 3,500 peer-reviewed titles. Full text coverage goes as far back as 1965.
  • JSTOR A full-text database that contains the scanned images of hundreds of major research journals in a variety of academic disciplines, some of which began publication as early as the 1870s.
  • MLA International Bibliography The essential index for critical materials about all literatures (except classical Greek and Roman), languages, folklore and film. The database provides access to over 1.3 million entries gleaned from essay collections, dissertations, monographs and over 6,000 journals. Covers 1926-present.
  • 19th-Century Masterfile An online index to articles and stories published in magazines from 1786-1922.
  • Poetry Criticism An online collection of analysis and interpretation of poetry. Search by author or titles of poems.
  • Project Muse Searches the full text in over 300 academic journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, journals.

Archival Sources

  • ArchiveGrid
    This database aids in locating manuscript collections, personal papers, and historical documents held in archives and archival collections.
  • Northwest Digital Archives
    Online finding aids for manuscript collections held by libraries and historical societies in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
  • UO Libraries Manuscript Collections
    Manuscripts and personal papers held by UO Libraries.
  • UO WorldCat
    Search for archival materials in libraries worldwide. In advanced search, select "archival material" as the format you want to search.

Surveys of Research

What are the current trends in English Studies? What are the gaps in the research? Use these guides to stay abreast of your discipline. Current copies are located in the Reference Collection.

Free Digital Collections

  • Luminarium is an extensive, authoritative, beautifully-designed site devoted to Medieval, Renaissance, and seventeenth-century English literature. It draws extensively from the Norton Anthology of English Literature (6th edition.) Provides extensive links for research in all of these time periods, critical articles and essays by authorities and students, biographical information on authors, and primary materials online.
  • NINES Provides peer-reviewed digitized materials from the 19th century.
  • Renascence Editions is an online repository of works printed in English between 1477 and 1799. It provides text versions of primary documents, without biographical information or glosses.
  • TEAMS Middle English texts, created by The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages, offers general Web access to Middle English literature online. The collection currently includes approximately 300 annotated texts, omitting major "canonical" texts by Chaucer and Langland and concentrating on teaching editions of a wide range of literature that might otherwise not be easily accessible.
  • Women Writers Online A scholarly collection of texts by women writers from the early modern to pre-Victorian period.