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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | 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

♦  Place your topic in historical context

♦  Locate definitions of terms and concepts

♦  Find bibliographies suggesting additional resources on your topic


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.

For more help with citations, check this guide out.

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


Literary Terms, Themes, Theories, Allusions, and Symbols

Literary Periods and Movements

Literature by Subject and Genre

Literature by Region and Nationality


Children's and Young Adult Literature

English Language and Grammar