Dickinson, Emily (ca. 1861). Handwritten manuscript of poem "Wild nights, wild nights" via the Emily Dickinson Collection, Harvard Library

Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective  research in English.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Personal Librarian:
Vani Natarajan
311 Milstein

Reference Sources

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

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

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.

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

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.


Recommended Databases for Finding Literary Criticism, Literary History, and more

If you aren't sure where to start searching , you might try the CLIO Find Articles search. It searches across multiple databases at once, but it also allows you to refine results by subject terms and format type. For a more focused and refined search, try a database---the ones listed below are especially recommended for literary research.

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.

Humanities Full Text covers scholarly sources in the humanities alongside specialized magazines, from 1995 to the present.Contents include feature articles, interviews, obituaries, bibliographies, original works of fiction, drama, and poetry, book reviews, and reviews of ballets, dance programs, motion pictures, musicals, operas, plays, radio and television programs.

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.

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


Literary Sources 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.


Finding Print and Media Materials

CLIO provides access to the vast resources of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.

The NYPL catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library.

Worldcat searches libraries worldwide. If a title isn't available via Columbia University Libraries, you may request it via Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan.