This guide is designed to help you use the library’s reference section to find background material on literary authors and their works. It is also useful for finding information on specific genres and literary themes. These sources are listed here because they provide a general overview of an author’s life and/or writing. You might also find it helpful to consult library guides on literary genres (e.g. Drama, the Short Story, the Novel, Poetry) as well as those which focus on related topics (Biography, Book Reviews, Hispanic Authors, Women Authors, Black American Authors). For help on finding literary criticisms in books or journal articles consult the library guide on Literary Criticism
INDEXES and BIBLIOGRAPHIES -
Provides references from books and periodicals on literary topics.
- Essay and General Literature Index (Ref PN 2.E7)--This is an index to essays in a variety of sources. While a title/subject keyword search of the online catalog will turn up many such critical essays, this index will uncover still others. For literary criticism consult the index by author’s name. Author and title of the essay will be given, followed by the word "In" and the author or editor and title of the source which includes the essay. With the following example you can then do a title browse search in the online catalog for the book Subjects and Citizens to see if it is in this library. If not, the book may be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
Example: Under the topic Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849
Dayan, J. Amorous Bondage: Poe, Ladies, and Slaves. (In Subjects and Citizens; ed. by M. Moon and C.N. Davison p109-43)
- Short Story Index (Ref PN 3373.A2S45) -- Lists alphabetically by author and story title, anthologies in which short stories are printed.
- Play Index (Ref PN 1626.P55) -- Lists alphabetically by playwright and play title, anthologies in which plays are printed.
- Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry (Ref PN 1021.G7 1994 ) -- Lists alphabetically by poet, title, first and last lines, anthologies in which individual poems are printed.
- Magill’s Bibliography of Literary Criticism (Ref PN 86.A2.M33) -- List of books and journals which contain literary criticism written in the 20th century, covering writers in all genres, national literatures, languages, and time periods. Arrangement is alphabetically by literary author.
- New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (Ref PR 2.C35) --Multi-volume set which lists works of history and criticism on literary authors and their writings. This bibliography covers all of English Literature from 600 a.d. to the 20th century and is arranged chronologically and then by author within each time period.
- Blanck. Bibliography of American Literature (Ref PS 2.B53)--A selective bibliography of American authors from the beginning of the Federal period up to and including persons who died before the end of 1930.
- Articles on Twentieth Century Literature (Ref PN 86.A2P68)--Lists articles of literaary criticism on authors of the 20th century from all countries.
- The Undergraduate's Companion to American Writers and Their Web Sites (Ref PS 88.B67 2001)--Guide to 300 American authors, arranged chronologically by author's birth date. From John Smith (b. 1580) to William Vollmann (b. 1959), and most prominent writers in between, the 300+ entries are included in this guide because there is a web site featuring the author and he or she appears in one or more of several widely used anthologies of American Literature. Entries include a list of web sites devoted to that author as well as a bibliography of print biographical and critical sources.
CRITICAL SUMMARIES -
Using an encyclopedia arrangement these sets offer critical overviews of authors and works of literature.
- Gale series of literary criticism--These are multi-volume sets containing excerpts of criticisms on literary authors. Individual volumes are arranged alphabetically by author. To guarantee finding all information on an author, consult the index of the last volume in each series. The indexes are cumulative which means they list appearances by each author in that volume plus all previous volumes. Oftentimes they will also list an author’s appearance in other series. The title of each series is self-explanatory on the literary time period covered. With the exception of the Shakespeare series they cover authors from all literatures and languages throughout the world.
- Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism (Ref PA 3001.C54) Excerpts of criticism of creative writer from classical antiquity to 1400, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.
- Shakespeare Criticism (Ref PR 2965.S43)
Excerpts of criticism of Shakespeare from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.
Criticism from 1400 to 1800 (Ref PN 86.L53)
Excerpts of criticism of creative writer from 1400 to 1800, all languages, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.
- Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism (Ref PN 761.N5)
Excerpts of criticism of creative writers who lived between 1800 and 1900, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.
- Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (Ref PN 771.G27)
Excerpts of criticism of creative writers who lived between 1900 and 1960.
- Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref PN 771.C59 and electronic database on library's web site)
Excerpts of criticism of creative writers living 1960 to present.
Magill Surveys --
Multi-volume sets which offer critical excerpts on writers, by genre, from beginnings to the present. Each set offers a brief biography, a list of the author’s writings, an extended analysis of the author’s work, and a bibliography of sources on that writer. There is, in addition, a volume in each set which discusses the genre as a whole. The sets are arramged alphabetically by author.
- Critical Survey of Poetry (Ref PN1111.C7)
Poets from world literature
- Critical Survey of Drama: English Language Series (Ref PR625.C74.1985)
Dramatists from English and American Literatures, all time periods
- Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series (Ref PN1625.C74.1986)
Dramatists writing in languages other than English
- Critical Survey of Short Fiction (Ref PN3321.C7.1993)
Short Story writers from world literature, all time periods.
There are also sets which focus on specific types of fiction ( mystery and detective fiction or science fiction, for example)
Library of Literary Criticism --
Each volume in each series covers authors from a specific literary time period and is arranged alphabetically by author. Entries offer excerpts from writings of twentieth century critics, with citations to the original source, and brief biographies of the author.
- Critical Temper (Ref PR 83.C764)
Criticism of English and American literature from the beginnings to the 20th century.
v.1 - From Old English to Shakespeare
v.2 - From Milton to Romantic literature
v.3 - Victorian literature and American literature
- Modern American (Ref PS 221.C8)
Twentieth--century American authors, writing in all genres.
- Modern British (Ref PR 473.T4)
Twentieth--century British authors, writing in all genres.
BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARIES -
Located throughout the reference section are multi-volume sets which focus on the lives of literary authors. Many of these offer critical analyses as well as detailed biographies of writers from all time periods, all languages and literatures,and all genres.
- American Writers (Ref PS 129.A55)
Colonial Period to present
- British Writers (Ref PR 85.B688)
Middle English through Victorian Period.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography (Ref PS 129.D5 and electronic database on library's web site)
Multi-volume set in which each volume features lengthy critical and biographical articles on authors writing in a particular time period and/or a particular genre and/or of a particular national literature. Vol. 9, for example, contains articles on American novelists who wrote between 1910-1945.The last volume in the series has a cumulative index to the entire series.
PLOT SUMMARIES -
The following sources are useful for interpretive summaries of literary plots.
- Masterplots--(Ref PN 44.M33 and electronic database on library's web site)
Digests and essay reviews of world literature arranged by title of novel, play, etc. Includes a short critical essay evaluating the work in the context of its literary form and of the author's other writings and an examination of the themes and meanings of the work. Useful for a quick outline of the structure.of a literary work
- Masterplots II: Short Story Series (Ref PN3326.M27 1986 and electronic database on library's web site) )
Similar to Masterplots except it is restricted to 732 works of short fiction
- Masterplots II Drama Series (Ref PN 6112.5.M37 1990 and electronic database on library's web site))
Critical plot summaries of 327 20th century dramatic plays
- MasterplotsII Poetry Series (Ref PN 1110.5.M37 1992 and electronic database on library's web site))
Examines 760 individual works of poetry from all languages and time periods
The following are sources which have very brief entries covering writers, literary works, literary characters, literary movements and periods and literary terms. These sources are useful for providing quick definitions and general overviews of a topic.
- Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Ref PE 1638.B74 1970)
- Brewer's Dictionary of 20th Century Phrase and Fable (Ref PE 1638.B74 1992)
- Cassell's Encyclopedia of World Literature (Ref PN 41.C3)
- Cyclopedia of Literary Characters (Ref PN 44.M3)
- Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (Ref PN 771.E5)
- Oxford Companion to American Literature (Ref PS 21.H3)
- Oxford Companion to English Literature (Ref PR 19.D73 1985)
- Reader's Encyclopedia (Ref PN 41.B4)