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Essential Resources for English Majors

This guide will also be helpful to English Minors, Graduate Students, and Faculty

Reference Works

Reference Works


  • Get to the most important facts quickly—they cut to the chase
  • Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, companions, etc.
  • Research guides will link users to reference works on specific topics
  • Or find them through DUQSearch or Reference databases, also through ProQuest One Literature and Literature Resource Center (particularly Dictionary of Literary Biography, the best source for biographical articles on authors)

Standard Reference Sources for Literary Studies

Standard Reference Sources for Literary Studies

Gumberg electronic resources can be accessed from anywhere by entering your Multipass username and password when prompted


Dictionary of Literary Biography

The Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) is the standard resource for very detailed biographical articles on writers of all types, in many genres. Each volume is devoted to authors from a particular time, country, or genre. There are well over 200 volumes to the set. The Gumberg Library no longer owns the print version of this valuable reference work, but we can access its contents online through the Literature Resource Center.

Do a search for an author's name in the Literature Resource Center, then click on "Biographies" found on the gray menu bar directly above your search result. DLB content will be found in the resulting list.

Literature Resource Center



Databases for Reference and Introductory Materials

Contemporary Authors--This link will not take your directly to this database. When you click on it, it will take you to a menu of Gale products. Click on : "Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors" to search it.

Cambridge Companions to Literature--This series of books can be accessed through the ProQuest One Literature database, To see the list of all available Cambridge Companions, go to ProQuest One Literature. In the search box type "Cambridge Companion" and change the menu to the right to "In title" and click search. This will present you with the list of over 300 Cambridge Companions to Literature indexed in the ProQuest One Literature database. The full text of each volume is available.

Oxford Handbooks Online--Each Handbook offers thorough introductions to topics and a critical survey of the current state of scholarship, creating an original conception of the field and setting the agenda for new research. Handbook articles review the key issues and cutting-edge debates, as well as providing arguments for how those debates might evolve.

Very Short Introductions--This is a series of ebooks that give brief but complete overviews on hundreds of subjects, including literary topics.