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Subject Guide - Literary

Reference Materials

Listed below are resources that may be helpful in your research. If you need additional help, please see the Reference Librarian or your Instructor.

General Encyclopedias (Circulation and Reference Areas in the AE Section; Online)

General encyclopedias are a good resource to begin your research. Often you will find a good overview article on your topic, with an outline and sometimes a bibliography. The online version of Encyclopedia Britannica is available any where on campus.

Biographical Encyclopedias (Reference; First Floor)

Biographical encyclopedias often have articles on famous authors. Two very good examples are:

Current Biography (REF CT100 C81)
The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography (REF CT103 M27)

PN, PR, PS, Z Reference Sections (Reference; First Floor)

These areas contain biographies and general criticisms of authors’ works. See some specific titles below.

Humanities Index (Index Table, First Floor)

Humanities Index is a print index, which lists sources of general and specific criticisms of authors and their works. It includes specialized literary journals, such as Poetry, Shakespeare Quarterly, and Modern Fiction Studies. Consult the RSC Periodical and Newspaper List to see if the library subscribes to a particular title. Look under your author’s last name.

Essay and General Literature Index (Index Table; First Floor)

The Essay and General Literature Index is a good guide to critical sources which are parts of books, such as an essay in a collection. Look under the subject (author’s last name). You will need to check the online card catalog to see if the library has the book listed.

The Reference Materials listed here include critical evaluations of literary works, plot summaries, discussions of themes and meanings, and information on the authors' styles and techniques.

Library Catalog

The Library Catalog is an index to the library’s books and audiovisual materials. You may search the catalog from any computer with Internet access. The online card catalog can be searched in a variety of ways most notability by TITLE, AUTHOR, SUBJECT, and KEYWORD.

Online Databases

The online databases provide indexing and full-text articles from periodicals and newspapers. EBSCOhost is a great database for literary criticisms and research. Academic Search Complete and MagillOnLiterature Plus databases within EBSCOhost will be most helpful for your literary assignment. InfoTrac is another great database for literary criticism and other literary resources. 


Author Guides

Select an author's name from this link to locate resources on that particular author.

Internet Resources

Although an unorganized and unregulated resource, the Internet does contain valuable information. The following links may be among the most helpful for the topic.

Additionally, the library's LITERATURE, BOOKS, MOVIES links will be helpful as well.

General Literary Criticism

Some authors and poets are listed on the Author Guides. See those pages for biography and literary criticism books and websites.

Literature (Books)

Audio Books

  • Librivox - Free public domain audiobooks in mp3 and ogg format.  


  • African American Women Writers of the 19th Century - 52 previously inaccessible published works and biographies of the authors. From the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
  • E-books - Over 7,000 ebooks from Cornell University.
  • Bartleby's Great Literature - Want to read Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass", John Keats' poems, Agatha Christies's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles"? The complete works are here plus many more.
  • Bartleby's Quotations Books and Search Engine  
  • - If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. Some books can be downloaded in PDF or printed.
  • Bookshare - Free accessible books, textbooks, and periodicals for U.S. K-12 and college students with qualifying print disabilities.
  • EBSCOhost Ebooks (Formerly Netlibrary) - Database of Full-text electronic books that may be browsed or checked out for 24 hours. Available on-campus to current RSC students and faculty/staff. Talk to a librarian about making an account for off-campus access.
  • Electronic Text Collections - Comprehensive list of electronic text collections.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library - A partnership of 90 major research institutions and libraries. The digital library aims to "ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future".
  • The Internet Classics Archive - Over 400 works, mostly Greco-Roman and some Chinese and Persian, translated into English.
  • National Academies Press  - Read thousands of books online for free.
  • The Online Books Page - Listing over 30,000 free books on the Web.
  • Project Gutenberg - Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books. Texts work well with screen readers. 

Literature (Mythology)

Literature (poetry)

Some authors and poets are listed on the Author Guides. See those pages for biography and literary criticism books and websites.


Video Streaming

Visit the Video Streaming page for resources in our collection.