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Simpson | Stafford | Special Collections

English: Obtaining Background Material

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in English and literature

Using Reference Books

Use Reference books to:

♦  Obtain background material to help familiarize yourself with your topic

♦  Locate definitions of terms and concepts

♦  Find bibliographies suggesting additional resources on your topic

Location:

Reference books are on the first floor of Simpson Library

Don't forget!  If you need assistance, stop at the Information Desk (located to the right as you enter Simpson Library's front door).

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for background information related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down for reference books found on the first floor of Simpson Library:

General Reference Books

Writers

Literary Terms, Themes, Theories, Allusions, and Symbols

Literary Periods and Movements

Literature by Subject and Genre

Literature by Region and Nationality

Poetry

Children's and Young Adult Literature

English Language and Grammar

General Reference Books

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
REFB PN 6081 .B27 2002b
 
Benet's Readers Encyclopedia
REFB PN 41 .B4 1996
 
The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English
REFB PR 85 .C29
 
Cyclopedia of Literary Characters
REFB PN 44 .M3 1998
 
Cyclopedia of World Authors
REFB PN 451 .M36 2003
 
Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century
REFB PN 771 .E5 1999
 
A Handbook to Literature
REFB PN 41 .H355 2003
 
Homophones and Homographs
REFB PE 2833 .H63 2006
 
Literary Research Guide
REFB PR 83 .H34 2002
 
Literature and Its Times
REFB PN 50 .L574 1997
 
Magill's Survey of World Literature
REFB PN 523 .M29 1993
 
Masterplots: 1,801 Plot Stories and Critical Evaluations of the World's Finest Literature
REFB PN 44 .M33 1996
 
Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
REFB PN 41 .M42
 
The New York Public Library Literature Companion
REFB PN 41 .N49 2001
 
Reference Guide to World Literature
REFB PN 524 .R44 2003

Writers

African American Writers
REFB PS 153 .N5 A344 2001
 
African Writers
REFB PL 8010 .A453 1996
 
American Ethnic Writers
REFB PS 153 .M56 A414 2000
 
American Nature Writers
REFB PS 163.A6 1996
 
American Women Writers
REFB PS 147 .A42 2000
 
An online index to millions of biographical sketches in hundreds of reference books and other sources. To use the index, 1) Look up your name. 2) Note the various titles that contain information on the person. 3) Use the Libraries' online catalog to locate the reference works. An excellent place to begin biographical research on living and deceased persons from around the world.
 
Contains biographical and critical essays on the lives, works, and careers of literary figures from all eras and genres.
 
Dictionary of Literary Influences
REFB PN 451 .B57 2004
 
Feminist Writings: From Ancient Times to the Modern World
REFB PN 56 .F46 F47 2011
 
Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide
REFB PN 3435 .G68 2002
 
Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century
REFB PN 642 .J482003
 
Modern Black Writers
REFB PN 841 .M58 2000
 
Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945
REFB PN 452 .M85
 
Multicultural Writers since 1945
REFB PN 452 .M88 2004
 
Notable Latino Writers
REFB PS 153 .H56 N68 2006
 
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers
REFB PN 3435 .S715 1996
 
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers
REFB PN 3448 .H6 S246 1998
 
St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers
REFB PS 374 .S35 S68

Literary Terms, Themes, Theories, Allusions, and Symbols

Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical:  A Thematic Dictionary
REFB PN 43 .A4 1986
 
The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
REFB PN 44.5 .M86 2003
 
A Dictionary of Literary Symbols
REFB PN 56 .S9 F47 1999
 
Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs
REFB PN 43 .D48 1988
 
A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms
REFB PN 44.5 .Q56 1999
 
Encyclopedia of Literary Critics and Criticism
REFB PN 86 .E63 1999
 
A Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory
REFB PN 44.5 .H37 1998
 
A Glossary of Literary Terms
REFB PN 44.5 .A2 2009
 
A Handbook to Literature
REFB PN 41 .H355 2009
 
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism
REFB PN 81 .J64 2005
 
Key Terms in Literary Theory
REFB PN 44.5 .K58 2012

Literary Critics and Criticism, 2 vols.
REFB PN 86 .E63 1999
 
Literature and Its Times, 5 vols.
REFB PN 50 .L574 1997
 
The Longman Dictionary of Literary Terms
REFB PN 44.5 .K46 2006
 
A Multicultural Dictionary of Literary Terms
REFB PN 41 .C28 1999

Literary Periods and Movements

The Beat Generation
REFB PS 228 .B6 Z68 2003
 
Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Twentieth Century, 1914-1920
REFB PN 451 .B57 2004
 
Encyclopedia of Literary Modernism
REFB PN 56 .M54 E53 2003
 
Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature
REFB PN 669 .R88 2006
 
Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance
REFB PS 285 .C47 P56 2004
 
Encyclopedia of the Harlem Literary Renaissance
REFB PS 153 .N5 B675 2006
 
Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism
REFB PS 217 .T7 E53 1996
 
Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature
REFB PN 56 .U8 S66 1995
 
Holocaust Literature: An Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work
REFB PN 56 .H55 H66 2003
 
Twentieth-Century Literary Movements Dictionary
REFB PN 597 .T94 2000

Literature by Subject and Genre

Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction
REFB PN 3433.8 .A5x 2004
 
Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction
REFB PN 56 .55 B42
 
Critical Survey of Drama
REFB PN 1625 .C68 2003
 
Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature
REFB PN 471 .S58 2006
 
Encyclopedia of Gothic Literature
REFB PN 3435 .S58 2005
 
Encyclopedia of Literary Epics
REFB PN 56 .E65 J33 1996b
 
Encyclopedia of the Essay
REFB PN 6141 .E53 1997
 
Encyclopedia of the Novel
REFB PN 3451 .E487 1998
 
Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Humor
REFB PS 438 .N55
 
Feminism in Literature
REFB PN 471 .F43 2005
 
Feminist Writings: From Ancient Times to the Modern World
REFB PN 56 .F46 F47 2011
 
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Literature
REFB PS 153 .G38 B67 2008
 
Gothic Literature
REFB PR 408 .G68 G675 2006
 
Icons of Horror and the Supernatural:  An Encyclopedia of Our Worst Nightmares
REFB PN 56 I26 2007
 
A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English
REFB PS 374 .S5 R43 2001
 
Reference Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
REFB PN 3433.5 .B87 2002
 
Supernatural Literature of the World
REFB PN 56 .S8 S86 2005
 
The World Encyclopedia of Comics
REFB PN 6710 .W6 1999

Literature by Region and Nationality

African Literature and Its Times
REFB PL 8010 .M65 2000
 
The Companion to African Literatures
REFB PR 9340 .C65 2000
 
The Companion to Southern Literature
REFB PS 261 .C55 2002
 
Encyclopedia of African Literature
REFB PL 8010 .E63 2003
 
Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature
REFB PN 849 .C3 E53 2006
 
Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature
REFB PQ 7081 .A1 E56
 
Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English
REFB PR 9080 .A52 E53 2005
 
The Feminist Encyclopedia of Spanish Literature
REFB PQ 6055 .F46 2002
 
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature
REFB PS 153 .N5 G73 2005
 
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature
REFB PS 153 .M56 G74 2005
 
Hispanic Literature of the United States
REFB PS 153 .H56 K36
 
Literary Cultures of Latin America
REFB PQ 7081 .A1 L525 2004
 
Magill's Survey of American Literature
REFB PS 21 .M34 2007
 
Middle Eastern Literatures and Their Times
REFB PJ 307 .M67 2004
 
Native American Literatures
REFB PS 153 .I52 W47 1999
 
The Oxford Companion to English Literature
REFB PR 19 .O94
 
The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature
REFB PR 8706 .O88
 
The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
REFB PS 21 .E537 2004
 
The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature
REFB PR 19 .O95 2006
 
South Asian Literature in English
REFB PR 9570 .S642 S67 2004
 
Writing African American Women: An Ency. of Literature by and About Women of Color
REFB PS 153 .N5 W756 2006

Poetry

The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry
REFB PN 1022 .H39
 
Critical Survey of Short Fiction
REFB PN 3321 .C7
 
Dictionary of Poetic Terms
REFB PN 1042 .M93 2003
 
Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century
REFB PS 323.5 .E53 2001
 
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry
REFB PS 303 .G74 2006
 
The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
REFB PN 1021 .N39 1993
 
The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English
REFB PR 601 .O9 1994
 
The Poetry Dictionary
REFB PN 1021 .D78 2006
 
Poetry Themes
REFB PN 1022 .M3
 
World Poets
REFB PN 1021 .W67 2000

Children's and Young Adult Literature

Authors of Books for Young People
REFB PN 452 .W35 1990
 
Best Books for Children
REFB PN 1009 .A1 B471 2006
 
Characters in Children's Literature
REFB PN 1009 .A1 J78 1997
 
Characters in Young Adult Literature
REFB PN 1009 .A1 G47
 
The Children's and Young Adult Literature Handbook: A Research & Reference Guide
REFB PN 1009 .A1 G55 2005
 
Children's Literature Review
REFB PN 1009 .A1 C5139
 
The Continuum Encyclopedia of Young Adult Literature
REFB PN 1008.5 .C67 2005
 
The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators
REFB PS 490 .E85 2002
 
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature
REFB PN 1008.5 .O94 2006

English Language and Grammar

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
REFB PE 1628 .A623 2000
 
Dictionary of American Regional English
REFB PE 2843 .D52
 
The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
REFB PE 1689 .H47 2004
 
Hodge's Harbrace Handbook
REFB PE 1112 .H6 2004
 
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
REFB PE 3721 .P3 2006
 
The Oxford English Dictionary
REFB PE 1625 .O87 1989
 
Random House Webster's College Thesaurus
REFB PE 1591 .R314 1998
 
Webster's Dictionary of English Usage
REFB PE 1460 .W425 1989

 

Words to Rhyme With
REFB PE 1519 .E87 2001