This subject guide is intended to be a starting point for
your research in English and American literature. Here you will find links to
databases and websites, and information about journals and other resources for
all your literature research needs.
If you want to learn more about research in literature than
you can find on these web pages, here’s a book that will be helpful.
A Research Guide for
Undergraduate Students: English and American Literature
Ref PR56.B34 2000
Literary Research Guide Ref
How to Analyze Fiction Ref
Analyzing Short Stories Ref
All of these books are in the Reference area of the
library. Just ask for them at the
Research Help Desk
If you need help with your research, or if you have
comments about these web pages, please use the information below to reach the
English liaison librarian, Kathryn Kalmanson.
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 410-543-6190
SU’s Blackwell Library houses several thousand books about
literature – biographies, critical studies, literary histories, and many other
works to support your research about an author or a work of literature.
With a current SU Gull Card, you can also borrow books from
any of the USMAI libraries. Books from other libraries usually take about 3
days to get here. You will receive an email when your requests arrive, and the
books will be held for you at the Circulation Desk. There are no fees for
borrowing and no restrictions on the number of books you may request.
Search for books at
Search for books at
all University System of Maryland libraries
To find books written by the literary author, enter
the author’s name on the catalog search page and use the drop down menu to
To find biographies and critical studies about a
particular author, search the author’s name as a subject.
The direct links below will work only from a campus
computer. For off-campus access, please use
Research Port; you’ll need the 14-digit
bar code number from your Gull Card.
Quick tip: In each of these databases, be sure to
use the button
to access the items that interest you.
MLA International Bibliography
The world’s most comprehensive guide to
books, journal articles, dissertations and conference papers about language and
literature. (MLA Search Guide – coming soon!)
Humanities International Complete
comprehensive database of humanities content, providing full text of hundreds of
journals, as well as information about books & other published sources from
around the world.
JSTOR Language & Literature
Full-text journal articles from a number of scholarly journals in literature,
language and related fields.
Literature Resource Center
Contains biographical sketches, bibliographies, and journal articles about
authors from every age and literary discipline.
Academic Search Complete
interdisciplinary index that covers many journals in literature with full text
for most. Searches can be limited to peer-reviewed journals.
Reference and Source Databases
Early American Imprints, Series 1. Evans, 1639-1800
text mage files of books, pamphlets, broadsides and other imprints listed in
the renowned bibliography by Charles Evans.
Oxford English Dictionary
classic source for information about words, their derivation, and changes in use
over time. Complete text of the 20-volume 2nd edition of the Oxford English
Dictionary (1989), plus its 3-volume Additions Series (1993, 1997).
literary criticism (scholarly studies about literature) appear in one of the
Major authors and works of literature often have complete books written about
them. For example, a scholar may have written an entire book on one of
Shakespeare’s plays or of Melville’s famous work Moby Dick.
To find these, search Catalog USMAI with the literary
author’s name and the work of literature as subjects.
Collections of essays or articles in book format
Often a group of essays about a particular author or work
will be compiled into a book, each chapter or essay written by a different
To find these, search CatalogUSMAI using the literary
author’s name as a subject. Adding the word criticism will help
to make your search more precise.
The most frequently used sources of literary criticism are
articles published in scholarly journals. These are indexed in various library
databases, many with linked full text. For
full-text articles that are not liked directly, use the FindIt button
to discover how you can get a copy. It may be available in another database,
kept in hard copy in the library, or available through
Interlibrary Loan. If you’re not sure how to find the article, ask at the
Research Help Desk.
The citation format most often used for in writing about
literature is the one developed by the Modern Language Association. It includes
examples of how to cite everything from books to web sites.
MLA citation examples
Be sure to check out the cool video
The No Nerves Guide to MLA Style, developed by the University Writing
Center. It has great tips for understanding and using the MLA format.
If you still have questions about using the MLA style, come
Research Help Desk. where there are detailed printed guides and friendly
librarians to help you use them.
Citation Management Softwares
The University currently has access to two programs that
help you save and organize your research sources and then automatically convert
the citations to MLA style and other formats.
Watch for library workshops on these citation
softwares—coming in Fall 2009!
Free Web sites are not the best
sources of information about literature, but sometimes they can be helpful.
When you use them, be sure to apply the basic rules for evaluating a web site:
- Who is the author or compiler of the web site?
- Where did the author/compiler get the information?
- Does the information have a particular bias or point
- Has the site been updated recently?
- How does the information compare with that found in
Here are some literature web sites that you may enjoy.
For literature web sites that cover more specific topics,
click the Areas of Literature tab.
Sources for free copies of major works:
Contains the full text, which you can download, of many
famous works of literature.