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Why Reference Works?
Scholarly reference works are useful for the following:
- An overview of a topic
- Topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
- Finding keywords for searches
- Bibliographies for further research
Reference works are good starting points for research, but are rarely cited in research as secondary sources.
Print Resources: Genre, Movements & Historical Context
Essential Online Reference Sources
While somewhat dated now, still a great source:
Profiles literary works, including novels, short stories, biographies, speeches, poems, and plays, providing background on the time and place in which each work is set and in which it was produced. Also includes an extensive chronology of relevant events.
Literature Online - LION
Includes reference works, biographical sketches, bibliographies, and secondary criticism of British and American literary works. Offers full text of some novels, poems, dramas, and prose.
Literature Resource Center
Provides reference, literary timelines, and articles on authors, journalists, and critics from all literary periods. Covers literary genres such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, and journalism.
Oxford Bibliographies Online
These bibliographies can help answer the question, what are the best books to read?
Includes scholarly bibliographies that provide research guidance in several topical areas. Our current subscriptions cover the classics, Jewish studies, Islamic studies, medieval studies, the Renaissance and the Reformation, British and Irish literature, childhood studies, Chinese studies, cinema and media studies, American literature, education, communication, linguistics, philosophy, public health, and international relations.
Literature Criticism Online
Consists of summaries of works, Western literary criticism, and literary movements as well as biographical sketches of authors from the classical period to the present.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature
Provides comprehensive coverage of literature from the Abbey Theatre to Israel Zangwill, covering the entire history of literature in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the major literary languages (Anglo-Saxon, English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, and Latin). It includes substantial accounts of individual authors (e.g., Spenser, Pope, Austen) and detailed histories of particular themes, movements, genres, and institutions.
The Oxford encyclopedia of American literature
Surveys the vibrant terrain of American literature in 350 essays from leading scholars, encompassing the range and depth of American literary history from the 1600s to the present day. The Encyclopedia includes essays on poets, playwrights, essayists, and novelists, as well as major works and essays on literary movements, periods, and themes.
The John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism
Offers full text articles on critics, and literary theorists as well as critical and theoretical schools and movements.
Oxford English Dictionary
Covers the history of the English language. Contains word definitions, pronunciation, history, and language of origin. The OED is a comprehensive record of the English language and generally regarded as its definitive dictionary.