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English Literature Research Guide

A general guide to doing research in English Literature at Iowa State University

Your First Stop!

These are the most useful and effective reference resources - handbooks, encyclopedias, bibliographies, and more - for doing English Literature research.

  • American Literary Scholarship (REF or STORAGE PS3 Am33)
  • Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (REF Z2011 M72b)
  • Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of American Literature (REF PS21 G36 2009)
  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (online resource, click here)

Important Reference Resources

Supplemental Reference Resources!

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Essential ~ Dictionary of Literary Biography

TheDictionary of Literary Biographyis a series of volumes, each of which have a certain focus: genre, time period, author, nationality/ethnicity, etc. The online version, which can be accessed here, makes the entire series searchable. Every article in the DLB is bio-bibliographical in nature, meaning it discusses an author's work in terms of available biographical information. One author may be represented twice -- for instance, there may be an essay on James Joyce as a playwright and another on Joyce as a novelist, and yet another on him as a writer of short stories. This resource is every bit as important as the MLA International Bibliography for doing thorough research in English Literature.

Literary Research Guide

The subtitle of the sixth edition of this book, now in electronic form, says it all: "An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies." Author James L. Harner has provided an exhaustive list of reference resources in all aspects of English literature studies. There are over 1000 annotated entries in this book that discuss over 1600 different books that cover topics from early English to 21st Century literature, poetry to Children's literature, and authors writing in English all over the world. This, along with the MLA International Bibliography database, should be the first resource consulted when starting research. The book can be accessed here.

Poetry and Short Story Reference Center

Guides for Areas of Study within English

This is the list of guides provided by the ISU Library for the various topics taught in the Iowa State University's English Department.