UCB Libraries


Subject Guide for
English & American Literature

Contact: Skip Hamilton | Skip.Hamilton@Colorado.EDU | 303-492-2987

Humanities Bibliographer for English and American Literature


  • Introduction
  • Reference

  • Books
  • Journals
    & Articles
  • Electronic
    & Digital
  • Primary

  • Citing
  • Audio
    & Video

  • Microforms


CU's University Libraries English and American Literature collections comprise one of our larger disciplinary collections. The collection exist in the following formats:




This guide lists resources found in the Libraries Collections, not on the free internet! Those who use these can feel comfortable that they will be fundamentally acceptable to others who use, and rely on, academic methods. We feel they can be trusted.




The internet has become so large, so all encompassing, that users may question the need for such a guide. Yet because any one person has the capability to edit general internet items, the validity of its resources is always in question. James Harner in his superb MLA Literary Research Guide has stated:

The phenomenal growth of the Internet and especially the World Wide Web has led to a proliferation of electronic resources for literary research. The overwhelming amount of material available—including far too many dubious reference tools—and its frequently ephemeral nature ,…. (Has led to) World Wide Web sites (that) constantly appear, disappear, change URLs, become inactive, or vary in quality,…

Harner. www.mlalrg.org/view/chapter/org. Dec 2, 2012 web

Even Harner’s recommended metapages are now suffering these unfortunate lapses.


Almost every literary question revolves around the author. Unless it is a definition, it is wise to know, "Who is the author and what/when was she/he writing?"

The more heavily used literary reference works are now found in multi-title full text databases. Four of the more useful electronic resources are:

OED Online
The most comprehensive English Language dictionary available. It covers words from across the English-speaking world. Provides current and historical definitions.

Gale Dictionary of Literary Biography
Introductory critical biographies of historical and modern literary figures.

Oxford Reference Online
A collection of about 300 reference works, many published by Oxford University Press. Particularly useful for mythology, literary/artistic forms and types, eras, philosophical schools, etc.

John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory

A reference works which presents, in encyclopedic style, surveys of the fields most important figures, practitioners, works, schools, and movements.

Further Electronic Reference Works along with other literary indexes and resources at the following links:

English and American Literature: Most Useful
English and American Literature: Also Useful

The Libraries Collection of Reference Works also consists of books like dictionaries and encyclopedias. (map) The more highly used reference books are in the Libraries Reference Collection, call numbers PN through PS.



Books relating to literature may be found by an Author, Title, or Keyword/Subject search in either of the Chinook catalogs.

To find books by an author, do an AUTHOR search.

To find books by title, do a Title search.

To find books about an author or an author's work, do a Keyword search in Chinook by typing in the author's name. 

Generally, all works by an author and about the author are in the same call number area. For relevant sub-topics discussed by the critic, look in the ‘Indexes’ of the critical works / biographies in that call number area.

For works outside of Norlin, go to WorldCat, or Prospector -- for the state of Colorado, to see what other libraries hold. Request these materials through Prospector's Request it link or Inter-Library Loan


Finding Literary Forms


  • Novels
    Find these by doing an author search or a title search. Leave off any beginning articles -- a, an, the, or foreign equivalents.
  • Short Stories, Poetry, Plays
    Find these by doing an author search. They may be in an author’s collected works. For an item in an anthologized collection, one may find these by doing an ‘Advanced Keyword’ search in Chinook. Use terms like “Short Stories” and Anthology*; Play* and Anthology*; or Poetry and Collection*
  • Popular Reading Collection
    The library subscribes to a current popular works vendor (MONA) for selected contemporary popular items. These are housed in the Circulation area on the rotating shelves.
  • Graphic Novels
    Located in the PN 6700 call number range. Do a Keyword search using graphic novels and title.

MLA International Bibliography
The primary, most comprehensive literary index/database that each student /scholar should use first!  Within it are some full text articles.

Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature 
This is the second most important literary index. Within it are some full text articles. Also, it has collections of electronic literary sources.

The University Libraries has prepared a listing of  indexes and databases. The page provides a search by title method, a browse by database method and a listing of databases by discipline. For the specific Literary indexes and databases click on Literature, English and American.

The first group, Literature, English and American - Most Useful is a selective group of 10 to 15 databases that researchers find of most use.

The second group, Literature, English and American - Also Useful, provides an additional 50+ databases with a direct connection to literature. The following are recommended:

Lexis Nexis Academic
Full text of newspaper articles, books reviews, etc. 

Academic Search Premier
This index contains a large  number of popular magazine sources which can provide articles like book reviews. It does have full text.  

If the full text article is not in the database
Most databases do not contain the full text articles for all of their citations. For a large number of these, we have established a Fin it at CU Boulder link below each citation. That link, through Chinook, may connect you to whether or not we have the item in CU Boulder University Libraries.

If the above does not work, one should do a Chinook Plus Title search and type in the Title of the journal or serial, * not the title of the article!!The results should list whether or not the Libraries carry the journal and the formats in which that journal is found in the Libraries.  If the journal is in an electronic format, it is highly likely we will have full text for recent years.

If the above options do not work, then the document delivery / ILL option will generally deliver your material by email, sometimes within one day.  



Norlin has a wide range of resources in differing electronic or digital formats: books, journals, full text articles, digital image resources, plays, poetry, and primary documents.

To locate an individual electronic book do a keyword search, put in a subject or a title and then, type in the term electronic books. To read these works in the Library or on-campus, please refer to this link: How do I...? Read Electronic Books. If you are off-campus, these works can be accessed only through entering the Libraries’ website using a VPN Client and the Identikey issued only to CU Boulder students, faculty, or staff.


The Libraries has also developed a separate organized entrance for electronic databases and the items within them. To access this information, go to the Libraries home page and click on Articles. Then, under “Browse databases by subject”, click on the + next to “Literature, English and American”. Under either of the “Most Useful” or the “Also Useful” categories, one may find many full text collections. Four examples follow:

Columbia Granger's World of Poetry
Includes 250,000 poems in full text, and 450,000 poetry citations for poems in anthologies. It is possible to search by: Author, Subject, Title, First Line, Last Line, Words in Poem, or a combination of these.

Literature Online
This database provides access to the following full text collections.

  2. AMERICAN DRAMA 1714–1915

Early English Books Online: EEBO
The EEBO collection contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America during 1475 through 1700. The Early English Books Online -- Text Creation Partnership: EEBO-TCP contains searchable full text of over 12,000 EEBO titles from the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.

Early American imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800
Early American imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819
These two collections are digital facsimile images of all items printed in America from 1639 to 1819. The Evans Early American Imprint Collection -- Text Creation Partnership is a separate collection and will eventually have 6,000 accurately keyed full text editions from the Evans Early American Imprints Collection.

Further electronic full text resources along with other literary indexes and databases can be accessed within following links:

English and American Literature: Most Useful
English and American Literature: Also Useful


Our History Bibliographer, Dr. Thea Lindquist, has prepared a point by point explanation of Primary Sources that is relevant not only for history but also for Literature: 

Primary Sources, Finding Historical

Certain specific sections that will be of higher value are:   


  • What are primary sources
  • Tips for searching for Primary Resources in Chinook
  • Finding Primary Sources in Library Data Bases: remember that History is only one of the disciplinary lists you should investigate.

The University Libraries have prepared the following information on the more frequently used citation styles on this campus. 

Basic Citation Guide

The preferred Citation and Footnoting style for English and American Literature is the Modern Language Association Style usually abbreviated as the MLA Style. A professor can always indicate a preference for another Style Guide. The Campus’ Program for Writing and Rhetoric also recommends the  following website for additional Instructions and examples.

OWL at Purdue

Or, for personal consultation you may contact: 

CU Writing Center

Their offices are located at the following address in the Libraries

The Writing Center
Norlin Library
Norlin Commons, Room E111
317 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Citation Creation Computer Based Program
There are several programs that help scholars create citations. The University Libraries provides access to all students, faculty, and staff to such a program called RefWorks. An explanation of how to use the program and what it does may be found at the following link.



On the Chinook Classic Advanced Keyword Search page  there is an Optional Limits section identified in the left column.  Under Material Types one can select a material type: i.e. Sound Recordings, Video Recordings. Putting in a subject or title search in the boxes at the top of the page and using one of the material type selections one can identify what the Libraries has available in these formats.


In the Chinook Plus Advanced Search page, there is a format box. This box has a click down menu where one can choose Audio formats or Videorecording. Then one can combine this format selection with a Keyword search or Title search to locate your desired material. 


The following is a web instruction page the Libraries has created to indicate what it has in relation to the location of and equipment for Videos. Video Collection



The Libraries Collections has many resources in the Microfilm, Microfiche and other similar Micro formats. Some are individual items, some are large collections with numerous individual items whose availability is only identified through separate catalogs for these collections. In addition, several of these larger collection may now be undergoing commercial digitization or they are being reformatted electronically by research organizations. 

First: It is wisest to see if the item is now available electronically. Please refer to the Electronic & Digital tab, or the Journals and Articles tab of this guide to see how to access these materials in the Libraries.


Second, many of these materials are catalogued with the descriptive term, Microform. Adding this term as an additional Keyword in a Keyword or Title search would retrieve a list of the libraries holdings in your desired subject area. Many of these will have to be retrieved from our Offsite Pascal location.


Finally, the Libraries is involved in several projects to gather the catalogs in one place if those collections are unique and not identified in the Chinook Catalog. The individual catalogs will be located in one place in the Library.