Skip to Main Content

English Literature Research Guide

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

Credo Reference: American Literature

Credo Logo

Credo Reference helps you start your research in American literature with reference guides to historical and contemporary US authors, their times, and their works.

Credo Reference: British Literature

Credo Logo

Credo Reference helps you start your research in British literature with reference guides to historical and contemporary UK authors, their times, and their works.

Listed below are some of the most effective databases for finding scholarly English Literature-related articles.

Start Here! MLA International Bibliography Database

The Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLAIB) database is a powerful tool that allows researchers to search for English Literature- related peer-reviewed articles, essays that appear in books as chapters, and the books themselves that collect these essay chapters. The MLAIB database can be easily accessed by clicking on Articles & Databases on the e-Library home page, and then selecting "M" from the horizontal alphabetic menu. Or click on the link below.

Gale Literature Criticism

Gale Literature Criticism  gives full-text article access to everything in, but not limited to, the following Gale print reference book series. Currently, it's recommended that users perform their search by using the "Discover New Ideas" search box towards the upper middle of the screen rather than engaging with one of the two options underneath. This database provides access to the complete run of each of the following series, all of which contain a tremendous collection of essays on authors and specific works.

  • Children's Literature Review
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism
  • Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism
  • Shakespearean Criticism
  • Short Story Criticism
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism

You can do a search on the title or author of a literary work and retrieve a list of citations with links to full-text, as well as a way to limit search results by using the left-hand menu.

Gale Literature Criticism

The Gale Literature Criticism is "Gale's main literature offering," according to Library Journal, and it "delves deep into a broad range of content, containing criticism, biographies (130,000), primary sources, and multimedia. The multimedia content "is especially rich compared with other products, comprising web sites, images, sales stats, and audio such as NPR transcripts and links to audio segments available online." 

The basic (default) and advanced searches allow users to search by the specific title or author of a literary work, as well as theme/subject matter. Results are divided into tabbed sections with headings such as "Criticism," "Biography," "Topics and Overviews," "Reviews," and "Primary Sources."

Other features like "Topic Finder" and "Term Frequency", respectively, allow researchers to see a visual map layout of the relatedness of literary topics, and to see how often a specific term has been used in literary scholarship throughout the years, by use of a graph where the coordinates are clickable and bring the user to citations of articles that contain the term, showing the context.

Your Librarian

Profile Photo
Dan Coffey
152 Parks Library



JSTOR is an excellent resource for finding articles published in archival and recent issues in scholarly journals. In 2015, JSTOR will be adding the contents of current issues of journals as well. Some electronic books are also available. JSTOR and MLA have a giant overlap, but there is much miore full-text material available via the former.

Academic Search Ultimate