English & American Literature

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Welcome! On this page, you will find tools for research in English, American, and Anglophone literatures.  This research can encompass the study of postcolonial literatures written in English, analysis of theatrical texts, close readings of letters and diaries, critical theory, and histories of print and publishing, among other topics.



If you are looking for secondary sources, including book reviews, check out these databases.

JSTOR includes page images of key scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences, with a particular strength in Languages and Literatures. Coverage spans the mid-19th century to the present.

LION , short for Literature Online, is a fully searchable library of English and American poetry, drama, and prose, with biographies, bibliographies, and key secondary sources.

MLA International Bibliography features scholarly articles on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore from around the world. Sources include periodicals, books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations and bibliographies. Coverage spans 1923 to the present.

Project MUSE offers full text scholarly journal articles from key sources in history and the humanities, including many sources in literary studies. Content is updated daily, and coverage is extremely up to date.


Literary Sources in Full Text

Look to this list for complete literary works in full text.

Alexander Street Literature  features cross-searchable collections of poetry, prose, and drama in full text. It covers "literatures of place, race, and gender,” including Southeast Asian Literature, Black Women Writers, and Irish Women Poets of the Romantic Period.

Granger’s World of Poetry  indexes poems from around the world, including 13,000 poems in full text . This online version includes the contents of the following works: Columbia Granger's index to poetry in anthologies (eds. 8-11), Columbia Granger's index to poetry in collected and selected works, Columbia Granger's guide to poetry anthologies (2nd ed.), Columbia Granger's dictionary of poetry quotations, and Classic hundred poems.

Past Masters features the works of European, British, and American writers, including diaries and correspondence collections. Featured writers include Bronte, Swift, Tennyson, and Yeats.

Women Writers Online contains collections of writings by English and American women from the 16th through the early 19th centuries. It also includes introductory essays written by contemporary scholars about Renaissance women writers, their texts, and related topics. The site also features links to other textual databases, and a collection of syllabi.


Dictionaries and Language Tools

Brush up on vocabulary and etymology.

Dictionary of Old English  defines the vocabulary of the first six centuries (600 - 1150 A.D.) of the English language.

Middle English Compendium covers the vocabulary of Middle English (1100-1150 A.D.). Contents include a Hyperbibliography of Middle English ("the most comprehensive single list of ME materials available in electronic form"), the Middle English Dictionary, a corpus of Middle English prose and verse, and related resources.

OED Online provides a complete historical record of the English language. It's the largest dictionary of the English language, containing 615,000 word forms with 139,900 pronunciations, 219,000 etymologies, and 2,436,600 quotations, along with timelines and historical thesauri.

Oxford Reference Online offers full text of 100 searchable reference tools, including subject dictionaries and mythology dictionaries.


Theory and Criticism

Familiarize yourself with key concepts and movements.

Encyclopedia of Rhetoric features key concepts and terms related to the art of persuasion. Its 150 entries are written by experts in classical studies, philosophy, literature, literary theory, cultural studies, speech, and communications.

Encyclopedia of Semiotics features key concepts and terms related to signs and symbols in language and culture. Entries cover theories, theorists, schools of thought, and issues in communications, cognition, and cultural theory.

John’s Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism features articles on critics, theorists, schools and movements from Plato to contemporary times.

Motif-Index of Folk Literature classifies tropes, characters, events, and narratives in folk literature (including myths, legends, fables, and ballads).


Further Research

When you want to branch out…

Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database includes critical reviews of, and catalog records to, key works in children’s and young adult literature.

GenderWatch covers feminist and gender studies periodicals, including journals, popular magazines, newsletters, pamphlets, reports, and proceedings with abtracts and some full text. Coverage extends from the 1970's to the present, with most material published since 1990.

Victorian Database  indexes scholarly sources on the study of 19th century Britain, from 1945 to the present .


Search across all Columbia University Library's databases:

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Finding Books

Browse the stacks using the call numbers for English, American, and Anglophone literatures:

PE: English Language

PR: English Literature

PS: American Literature

PZ: Fiction (Including Children’s and Young Adult Literature)


CLIO : Online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

To find primary sources in CLIO, use the keywords:

  • archives
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • narratives
  • memoirs
  • sources

Searches libraries worldwide.





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