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English Resources

Getting Started with Reference Resources

Background information and reference resources

Background information can help you prepare for further research by explaining concepts related to your topic, especially if you are researching an unfamiliar topic or discipline. Entries in reference resources tend to be short and can help you get started with research on a new topic, identify trends in a subject area, and define unfamiliar terms or people from your readings. Reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases and handbooks. 

General Reference Databases

Subject-Specific Online Reference Resources

Reference Books


African American Writers
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS153 .N5 A344 2001 vol. 1-2

American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide From Colonial Times to the Present
CALL NUMBER: Ref PS147 .A4 vol. 1-5

Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Biography Series
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN56 .P55 B43 1996 vol. 1-3

Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers: An A-Z Guide
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS374 .W6 C66 2002

Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN3448 .D4 C75 2008 vol. 1-5

Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS221 .D5 1990-2001

Latin American Writers
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PQ7081 .A1 L37 1989 vol. 1-3

Southern Writers: A New Biographical Dictionary
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS261 .S595 2006


The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PR85 .C29 2006

Dictionary of Literary Symbols
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN56 .S9 F47 1999

Oxford Companion to English Literature
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PR19 .O94 2009

Oxford English Dictionary Online


All Things Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's World
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PR2892 .O56 2002 vol. 1-2

Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Analyses Series
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN56 .P55 B432 1996 vol. 1-13

Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS316 .E53 1998

The John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN81 .J554 2005


The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry in Anthologies
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN1022 .H39 2007

The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry in Collected and Selected Works
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN1022 .C63 2004

Last Lines: An Index to the Last Lines of Poetry
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN1022 .K55 1992 vol. 1-2

Short Story Index
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PN3373 .C62