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A guide for anyone in English Studies

Reference Sources

The following resources all can be found in Milner Library.  Most are located in the Reference Collection on the main floor, though some are available online and others are found on the sixth floor.  All locations and call numbers are noted.

They have been divided into the following categories.

Literary Terms and Concepts

A Dictionary of Literary Symbols. Michael Ferber. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. REF,PN56.S9 F47 2007

"Two hundred main entries explain and illustrate common literary symbols (swan, rose, goose, moon, gold), supplying cross-references and quotations. Concentrates on English literature, but entries range from the Bible and classical authors to the 20th century, taking in American and European literatures." (from the introduction) Bibliography appended.

Encyclopedia of Rhetoric. Thomas O. Sloane, ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. REF, PN 172.E52 2001.

"This one-volume work covers...the elements, structure, principles and techniques of rhetoric in literature, communication, and more specifically, public speaking. Major figures and rhetoric in non-Western cultures are featured. 

A Glossary of Literary Terms. Abrahms, M.H. 7th ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2009. REF. PN41 .A184 2009.

"For clarity, concision and elegance Abrams has few peers and no superiors; plain spoken but not simplistic, his essays on critical methods are the best short treatments in the business." (Choice)

covered as well." (Publisher)

Handbook to Literature. William Harmon and Hugh Holman. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2003. REF. PN41.H355 2000.

". . . this handbook provides an alphabetical listing of more than 2,000 important terms and facts in literature, linguistics, rhetoric, criticism, printing, bookselling, and information technology. Covers a wide range of terms, most centered in literature, but extending into other areas such as film, radio, TV, printing, linguistics and literary theory, music, graphic arts, classical studies, and computing and information science terms." (Publisher)

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism. Also Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth, eds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. REF PN81.J554 1994.

Includes entries on individual critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods. Each enty includes a selective primary and secondary bibliography.

Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies. James L. Harner. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008. REF. Z2011.H34 2008.

A valuable tool for the graduate student studying any aspect of English Literature--whether it be British literature, literatures of the United States, other literatures in English, or their related topics.

Specialized Guides, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Dictionary of Old English - Old English Corpus.

This online database consists of at least one copy of every Old English text and was compiled by the University of Toronto. Allows simple searching as well as Boolean and proximity searching.

Oxford Companion to English Literature. Dinah Birch. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009.

Provides short articles on authors and literary works from all periods of English literature, arranged alphabetically in this one volume. Includes extensive cross-references. Appendices include a chronology of English Literature, and listsof major literary award winners.


Oxford English Dictionary. Also REF. PE1625.O873.

The OED offers the words that have entered the English vocabulary from the earliest era to the present time, with all pertinent facts regarding their form, history, pronunciation, and etymology.


MLA International Bibliography

MLA International Bibliography offers the largest and most comprehensive database of journal articles, books and dissertations published in the modern languages, linguistics, literature, folklore, and drama (including film, opera, radio, television and theater). Literary criticism and theory are extensively included.


Biographical Sources

Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1978- . REF. PS128.D5.

A set of over 300 volumes, still being produced, designed to provide biographic, bibliographic and critical material on major writers of America and Great Britain as well as some writers of international fame. Each volume is arranged alphabetically by the writers covered. A list of references is provided at the end of each entry as well as an index at the end of each volume.


Contemporary AuthorsDetroit:  Gale, 1981-  .  REF.  Z1224.C622.

  Contemporary Authors offers continuous access to current biographical and bibliographical data on more than 120,000 modern authors. Easily search for an author by name, title of work, subject/genre, nationality, date and place of birth, honors, awards and much more.



The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. 3rd ed. David Crystal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. REF. P29.C64 2010.

This is a collection of concise and readable essays on the many subfields of linguistics, ranging from the invention of the alphabet to the Kurzweil Reading Machine and covering both theoretical and applied approaches to the subject. (Library Journal review of 1987 edition) Includes illustrations, charts, glossary, a table of the world's languages, and several indexes and bibliographical references.


The International Encyclopedia of Linguistics.  William Frawley. 2003. 

The Encyclopedia encompasses the full range of topics in linguistics, including such areas as historical, comparative, formal, mathematical, functional, philosophical, and sociolinguistics. Special attention is given to interrelations within these branches of the field and to relations of linguistics with other disciplines. This interdisciplinary focus makes the encyclopedia an invaluable resource not only for linguistics but also for scholars working in the fields of computer science, mathematics, philosophy, the social and behavioral sciences, and literary studies.


Children's Literature


Children's Literature Review. Detroit: Gale, 1976- . REF Z1037.A1C6.

This set of over 130 volumes offers excerpts from reviews, criticisim and commentary on books for children and young people. Cumulative indexes at the end of each volume.

The Opie Collection. Microfiche. Click Find books... from the library's homepage, then enter Opie in one search box and a topic in another search box.

The Opie Collection, owned by British children's literature scholars Peter and Iona Opie and housed in the Bodleian Library (Oxford) consists of more than 20,000 bound volumes, of which 800 titles were published before 1800. It is a comprehensive tool for research in the history of children's literature. Milner Library owns several units of microfiche of this impressive set.

Something About the Author. Detroit: Gale, 1971- . REF. PN451.S6 

This series of almost 200 volumes details the life and work of roughly 12,000 children's book authors and illustrators. Cumulative indexes are found in every odd-numbered volume. 


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Jean MacDonald
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