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EH -- Useful Books Series for Literature: Book Series: Reference Books

This LibGuide primarily is for English majors and breaks out and elaborates on the Books pages in the EH501 LibGuide. It primarily is an annotated bibliography of series books, both circulating and reference. These series are useful starting points for

Reference Sources

Companions, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Guides, Handbooks, etc. 

  • uses an alphabetic arrangement, with entries ranging in length from a paragraph or two to several pages
  • situate a subject within its context, and can be idea generators and springboards for launching research in a new direction
  • function as a prologue to journal articles and monographs 
  • provide information on writers who have not yet gotten much critical attention in journals or books
    • for some assignments, the terms of the assignment cannot be fulfilled without using reference sources; there just are not enough other types of sources available
  • may offer brief bibliographies at the end of each entry

American Writers

Description:  American Writers is a multi-volume series featuring biographical and critical essays on the lives and works of American authors. Entries include concise essays, citations, and biographical information, placing the author's work in personal and historical contexts.  AW is an open-ended series updated with supplements, which means there may be more than one essay in the series on a particular author.  (Available both in print and online)

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=american+writers+&argType1=phrase&searchCode1=GKEY&combine2=and&searchArg2=scribner%27s&argType2=all&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

British Writers

Description:  British Writers is a multi-volume series featuring biographical and critical essays on the lives and works of American authors. Entries include concise essays, citations, and biographical information, placing the author's work in personal and historical contexts.  BW is an open-ended series updated with supplements, which means there may be more than one essay in  the series on a particular author.  (Available both in print and online.)

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=british+writers&argType1=phrase&searchCode1=GKEY&combine2=and&searchArg2=scribners&argType2=all&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Companion to (gold standard reference work)

Description:  These Companions are genre-based comprehensive reference guides comprising entries on authors, works, genres, and related topics.  One especially valuable contribution is that they often contain entries for works which largely have been neglected in the professional literature at large, making these "must-see" sources for those works. A brief bibliography follows each entry.

JaxCat link:

Critical Companion to (gold standard reference work)

Description:  The Critical Companion series divides each volume into sections on biography, providing details of the author's life; works, including plot summaries (which place the work within its social and historical context), as well as critical assessments from a variety of viewpoints; and related people, places and topics.  A special value of this section is its potential to generate ideas for original research in overlooked subjects. 

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=critical+companion+to&argType1=phrase&searchCode1=SERI&combine2=and&searchArg2=&argType2=all&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Dictionary of Literary Biography (gold standard reference work)

Description/Site url:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictionary_of_Literary_Biography#:~:text=The%20Dictionary%20of%20Literary%20Biography,on%20American%20and%20British%20literature.

https://www.cengage.com/search/showresults.do?N=197+4294904775

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=dictionary+of+literary+biography&argType1=phrase&searchCode1=SERI&combine2=and&searchArg2=&argType2=all&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Encyclopedia of  .  .  .  Literature 

Description:  This series contains entries for the same types of subjects as the Companion to series cited above, only the scope is more geographically or period oriented than the nation or genre focus of that series.  A brief bibliography follows each entry.

JaxCat link:  http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=%22encyclopedia+of%22++literature&argType1=all&searchCode1=GKEY&combine2=and&searchArg2=facts+on+file&argType2=phrase&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Gale Literature Criticism series

Description/Site url:  https://www.gale.com/intl/databases/literature-criticism-online

Location and Use Information: The Dictionary of Literary Biography (large blue-bound books) series is located on the west wall carrels on the library's seventh floor.  The various literature (brown-bound) literature criticism books are located in by-period order on the seventh floor's north wall carrells.  Short Story CriticismPoetry Criticism, and Drama Criticism are located in the Main Reference area behind the washrooms on the library's sixth floor.

To use any of these, including the DLB, find the author's name in the index located at the back of the highest numbered (i.e. most recent) volume of the series.  You should find where information on that particular author is located in any of the Gale series; boldface indicates volume, regular font identifies page numbers within that volume. 

For searches by title, look for the paperbound index by title shelved along with the appropriate set.  If there is no title index, default back to the author indexes.   

NOTE:  The reason the location and use information is included is because (1) these all are Gale products with most (but not all) of their content in the Gale databases, but for going on a year now access to the Gale databases has been inconsistent and unreliable, and (2) the bound journals and periodicals transported to the the library's Ft. McClellan annex are not yet completely unboxed and on shelves and therefore still are inaccessible.  The fallback position or safety net for both of these circumstances is these Gale digest anthologies.

Oxford Companion to

Description:  The Oxford Companions contain brief entries on persons, places, things pertaining to and only in connection with specific broader subject areas such as literature or philosophy.  The relationship of the entries to one another suggests a combination of word cloud brainstorming with six degrees of separation:  smaller things being connected to larger things.    

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?LOCAL&searchArg=oxford%20companion%20to&searchType=0&recCount=25&searchCode=T246

Oxford Reader's Companion to 

Description:  The Reader's Companions are volumes that comprise entries or essays regarding persons, places, things, works centered on a specific author.   As with other titles in this list , the RCs can be useful in generating ideas for research.      

JaxCat link: http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?LOCAL&searchArg=oxford%20readers%20companion%20to&searchType=0&recCount=25&searchCode=T246

Reference Tools

Reference Tools

In literature, reference tools 

  • are finding aids used following the background gathering and subject focusing that is done via reference sources 
    • present content as lists (similar to a database Results List), generally of secondary sources germane to the topic  (Information in reference sources usually is presented as paragraphs.)
    • in this context, primarily consist of indexes and bibliographies

Reference tools primarily are used to

  • find more in-depth sources (essays, journal articles, monographs) pertaining to the research subject      
  • locate older source materials that database backfiles are not deep enough to index

Bibliographies/Indexes

  • index published research/scholarship on a given topic
    • sometimes offer a literature review of significant scholarship as part of the forematter
  • fill the void of scholarship published before 1985, which is about when database coverage takes over
  • indicate whether an article has been reprinted; databases index only the source of the original publication
  • index scholarship that databases do not
    • page range discussions within monographs

Important Reference Tools

Essay and General Literature Index (located in  A classification reference, to the left of the librarian's office alcove on the seventh floor) 

Description: coverage goes back as far as 1900; useful for researching authors who are being rediscovered; indexes essays in books and is the only print index which covers books exclusively (no journal coverage)

  • in addition to having backfiles much deeper than most electronic databases, the E&GLI indexes individual items in anthologies of a type databases do not 

English Novel Explication: (located on Reference bookcase in alcove adjacent librarian's office)

Description:  a citation-only (no abstracts/annotations)bibliographic series comprising comprehensive listings of criticism appearing in books and periodicals from 1958 to 1972, updating an earlier edition of the work with supplements appearing in 1976, 1981, and 1986.  Arrangement in all volumes is alphabetical by author and then by title under each author. The volumes include cross-references for pseudonyms and joint authors.  Indexes articles, books, and parts of books, including page ranges in monographs (databases do not index down to this level).

G. K. Hall Guide to . . . Explication bibliographies: (located on Reference bookcase in alcove adjacent librarian's office)

Description:  citation-only (no abstracts/annotations) bibliographies which index articles, books, and parts of books.  Series comprises American poetry (two volumes), American drama (1 volume),  British poetry (four volumes), British drama (one volume), and British prose (one volume).  As with English Novel Explication, the volumes in these series index down to the page level in books.

G. K. Hall Reference Guides: (located in seventh floor Main Reference, to the right of the librarian's office)

Description:  has much deeper backfiles (often centuries back) than do electronic databases.  Indexes both primary and secondary works for author(s) covered by the volume.  Provides annotations (i.e., abstracts) or summaries for items listed.  Lists reprints in anthologies of articles initially published in scholarly journals.

  • while the library may not provide access to the article as originally published, it often has the reprint collection in which the article is included

JaxcCat link:  http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=g+k+hall&argType1=phrase&searchCode1=GKEY&combine2=and&searchArg2=reference+guide&argType2=phrase&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Garland Annotated Bibliographies: (located in seventh floor Main Reference, to the right of the librarian's office)

Description:  has much deeper backfiles (often centuries back) than do electronic databases.  Indexes both primary and secondary works for author(s) covered by the volume.  Provides annotations (i.e., abstracts) or summaries for items listed.  List reprints in anthologies of articles initially published in scholarly journals.

  • while the library may not provide access to the article as originally published, it often has the reprint collection in which the article is included

JaxCat link:  http://jaxcat.jsu.edu/vwebv/search?searchArg1=garland+&argType1=all&searchCode1=GKEY&combine2=and&searchArg2=annotated+bibliography&argType2=phrase&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&page.search.search.button=Search&year=2020-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&status=all&medium=all&language=all&recCount=25&searchType=2

Twentieth-Century Short Story Explication: (located on Reference bookcase in alcove adjacent librarian's office)  (gold standard reference work)

Description:  citation-only (no abstracts/annotations) bibliographic series which covers 1900-200- and indexes journal articles and page ranges within monographs

  • lists interpretations of short fiction by over 850 authors from 45 countries 
  • includes bibliographical references and an index
  • updates via interedition supplements