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Literary Criticism

Reference Sources

Reference sources in literature include: critical summaries (such as the Literature Criticism Series below), background and biographical information, and bibliographies to further reading.  Individual works or series may be compiled by a critical framework (e.g., Marxist Theory), a literary movement (Realism), an author, genre, or by history/geography (e.g. American Novelists since WWII).

These materials are a good place to get started with your research.  They also help you check to make sure you are not missing a major point/work in your research papers.

They are located in the 1st Floor Reference Collection in the John C. Pace Library. Literature is found in the P call number range; however, bibliographies will often be found in the Z's. Some reference materials may also be found through our databases.

To locate items, conduct an Advanced Search in our library catalog and limit to the location "Reference."

Literary Criticisms: Gale Series

Reference: Guides


Literary Research Guide: an annotated listing of reference sources in English

by James L. Harner
5th ed.


Reference - 1st Floor - PR83.H35 2002






 Front Cover




The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

edited by Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman

2nd ed.


Reference - 1st Floor - PN81.J554 2005








Biographical Sources

Contemporary Authors. 1981-2000 (Ref. PN 771 C5852) and Literature Resource Center. Biographical and critical essays of contemporary authors in all fields.

Dictionary of Literary Biography. (Call Number Varies) 
An ongoing, multi-volume work that provides detailed descriptions of an author's life and work. Covers many American and European authors.

Directory of American Scholars. 4th-9th ed., 1963-1999. (Ref. LA 2311 C32)

Reference: Dictionaries, Guides, and Handbooks

Reference materials can be found on the 1st floor of the John C. Pace Library:

The Dictionary of Feminist Theory. 1995. (Ref. HQ 1115 H86 1995)

Dictionary of Literary Symbols. 1999. (Ref. PN 56.S9 F47 1999 & FWB)

Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs. 1988. (Ref. PN 43 D48 1988)

Gay & Lesbian Literature. (Ref. PN56 .H57 G36)

Glossary of Literary Theory

Handbook of Literary Research. 1995. (Ref. PR 56 M54 1995)

A Multicultural Dictionary of Literary Terms. 1999. (Ref. PN 41 C28 1999)

The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. (Ref. PN41 C67 2008)

Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. (Ref PE 1625 087 1989)
Oxford English Dictionary. (Oxford University)

Twentieth-Century Literary Movements Dictionary. 2000. (Ref. PN 597 T94 2000)


The following selection of encyclopedias may be read online (if hyperlinked) or be found in the Reference Collection on the 1st floor of the John C. Pace Library.

The Encyclopedia of…

African Literature

American Literature (Continuum Encyc. of…)

Arabic Literature – PJ7510 .E53 1998

British Literture (Continuum Encyc. of…)

Feminist Literature – PN471 .W455 2004

German Literature

Latin American & Caribbean Literature, 1900-2003

Literature and Science

Medieval Literature – PN669 .E53 2000

Post-colonial Literatures in English

 For a complete list of reference sources in English, use the Advanced Search in the library catalog and limit by location.