It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias are great ways to get background information on your topic. Looking up your topic can get you biographical or historical information, general concepts, lists of works, and related terms depending on your topic.
The type of information you gather from reference sources is seldom the kind of critical analysis your professors are looking for in your papers. Use reference sources to become familiar with your topic so that you can search smarter when you look for books and articles. You should generally refrain from using them in your papers. Situations vary, so if you're unsure, check with your instructor.
This guide is designed to help you get started on your research in English Literature. Use the tabs above to find articles, books, and librarian-approved websites. Feel free to contact me directly (see boxes to right) if you have any questions or want to set up an appointment to meet for more help.
The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It traces the usage of words through 2.4 million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources.
The Encyclopedia of Rhetoric is a comprehensive survey of the latest research - as well as the foundational teachings - in this broad field. Featuring 150 original, signed articles by leading scholars from many different fields of study it brings together knowledge from classics, philosophy, literature, literary theory, cultural studies, speech and communications.