- Primo Catalogue
- Finding literary criticism
- Research guides
- More resources for finding books
- Finding biographies
Search the Primo Library Catalogue to find items at Laurier, UW and UG:
- novels, plays, collections of poetry by title
- works by specific authors
- books (monographs) about literary works (literary criticism)
- books on literary genres (eg. English drama) or literary movements (eg. postcolonialism)
- book-length biographies, bibliographies (lists of works by or about authors or subjects), dictionaries, and other reference materials
Use the MLA Bibliography to identify more books and book chapters on your topic:
- do not limit to "peer reviewed" (this will eliminate all books and book chapters)
- use "Get it @ Laurier" to connect to the Primo catalogue
- book isn't in Primo?
Finding literary criticism
- For authors , try browsing in Primo by subject on author's last name, followed by first name: eg. Dickens, Charles. Here are some results. Note that for this author, criticism is available for specific works and topics:
- Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. Characters Children
- Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. Criticism and Interpretation
- Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. Criticism and interpretation History
- Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. David Copperfield
- For a particular period , browse by subject in Primo on the general category, then look for the century, followed by more specific subdivisions:
- English literature
- English literature 20th century
- English literature 20th century Bibliography
- English Literature 20Th Century History and Criticism
- English literature 20th century History and criticism Dictionaries
Below are a selection of research guides for English. To find more, search the Primo Catalogue for the subjects: literature, research, methodology.
- Literary research guide: an annotated listing of reference sources in English literary studies, by Harner, James L.
- Modern language Association, 2008. Print location: Z2011.H34 2008
- American literature scholar in the digital age, by Earhart, Amy; Jewell, Andrew
- University of Michigan Press, 2011. Print location: PS51.A64
- Handbook to literary research, by Eliot, Simon; Owens, W.R.
- Routledge, 1998.
- Literary research and Canadian literature : strategies and sources
- Scarecrow, 2011. Print location: PS8039.5.R49
- Literary research and postcolonial literatures in English, by Christenberry, H. Faye et al
- Scarecrow, 2012.
- Reference sources for Canadian literary studies, by Joseph Jones
- University of Toronto Press, 2005. Print location: Z1375.J66
More resources for finding books
- Where are the books?
- Check the floor plans (Waterloo campus)
- Brantford collection is at the Brantford Public Library
- For collections of online texts, see
- To identify books not available locally, see
- WorldCat, a collection of more than 50,000 library catalogues worldwide
- More resources, including public library catalogues
- Request books from other libraries
For book-length biographies, search the person's name as a "subject" in Primo
- Literature Online (LION), 8th century to present
- Biographies of writers in English and also of major writers in languages other than English.
- Literature Resource Center
- Includes full text from Contemporary Authors and Dictionary of Literary Biography
- Gale's Literary Index
- Index to publications of the Gale Group, a major reference book publisher, including Contemporary Authors, and Dictionary of Literary Biography.
British women authors, see: call numbers beginning PR 111
- Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature
- 1992. Brief descriptions of selected women writers from across the world and from all time periods. Print location.
- Women Writers of Great Britain and Europe
- 1997. Biographical essays and lists of works for writers from antiquity to the present. Print location.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- More than 50,000 biographies of people of distinction in the British Isles and its colonies, from the 4th century to the 21st. New edition of the 1885 work; also includes the original edition: do a search, then select "DNB Archive" from the left-hand column.
Poets: see call number range PR 541 - PR 611; Dramatists: see call number range: PR 106, PR 623 - PR 737; Prose Writers: see call number range PR 781; Novelists: see call number range PR 830 - PR 888
See call numbers starting PS 8081
- Contemporary Canadian Authors
- 1996. A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to writers in all genres. Print location.
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- Historical, biographical dictionary with scholarly articles on individuals who died on or before 1930. Biographies for later individual are being added; see "New Biographies" on the sidebar.
See call number range PS128 - PS 490
African and Caribbean authors
See call numbers beginning PR 9205
- Oxford English Dictionary
- The full text of the 20-volume 2nd edition (1989) plus regular updates.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Biographies of people of distinction in the British Isles and its colonies, from the 4th century to the 21st.
- Oxford Reference
- Large collection of online reference sources.
- Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism
- Full-text encyclopedia with entries for critics, theorists, schools and movements.
- Dictionary of slang and unconventional English, by Eric Partridge
- Encompasses world Englishes, with an emphasis on American and British slang. Print location: PE3721 .P3 1984
- To find more resources, search the Primo Catalogue using the subject term "dictionaries" or "encyclopedias."
A primary source is a document produced within a particular historical context. Examples include works of fiction, poetry, drama and art, plus letters, diaries, autobiographies, speeches and interviews. The document may have published close to the time it was written, at a later time, or it may not be published at all, as is the case for many items in archival and manuscript collections. See Finding Primary Sources - Library of Congress Subject Headings (from MIT Libraries) for subject keywords to use when searching the Primo Library Catalogue.
Online primary source collections
Start here for English literature
- Early English Books Online (EEBO) 1475-1700
- Facsimiles of more than 100,000 literary and historical texts as listed in the English Short Title Catalogue.
- Eighteenth Century Journals 1650-1815
- Rare, full-text journals on a wide range of topics.
- Nineteenth Century Collections Online
- Primary source collection focusing on the 19th century, gender, and class through a transnational perspective.
- Literature Online (LION) 8th century to present
- Full text of hundreds of thousands of works in British, American and Canadian English.
- Defining Gender, 1450-1910
- Full-text manuscripts and printed works, plus illustrations.
- Early Canadiana Online
- Digitized texts published between the first European settlement of Canada and the early twentieth century.
Also useful for English literature, A-Z
- 19th Century Masterfile 1106-1930
- An index to a variety of primary sources from the 12th century up to 1930.
- Asian American Drama late 19th century to present
- Full-text plays, many not previously published, and related information.
- Black Drama 1850 to present
- Full-text plays and related information from around the world.
- Center for Research Libraries
- Materials available in digital format of for request through Interlibrary Loan.
- First World War Personal Experiences
- Documents, maps and visual resources.
- Internet Archive
- Digitized texts in the public domain.
- Latino Literature late 19th century to present
- Full-text poetry, prose and drama by writers in the U.S.
- Modernist Journals Project early 20th century
- Selection of full-text journals, books and essays along with visual art.
- News Archives Online late 18th century to early 21st
- Full-text newspapers from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
- North American Indian Thought and Culture 17th century to present
- Full-text biographies, autobiographies, diaries, letters, personal narratives and speeches.
- North American Theatre Online
- Information about plays, actors, productions, etc.
- North American Women's Drama colonial times to present
- Full-text plays, chiefly American with some Canadian.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674 to 1913
- Details of thousands of criminal trials.
- Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice
- Includes manuscripts, books, pamphlets, maps and images.
- South and Southeast Asian Literature 1827 to present
- Fiction and poetry written in English by authors from South and Southeast Asia.
- Twentieth Century North American Drama late 19th century to present
- Full-text plays, chiefly American with some Canadian.
Letters and diaries
- British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries 1500 to World War II
- Search by author's name, age, marital status, etc., and also by historical event.
- Manuscript Women's Letters and Diaries 1719 to 1991
- Collection of personal writings by American women of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries
- North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories late 18th century to present
- Full-text personal narratives of immigrants to the United States and Canada.
- North American Women's Letters and Diaries colonial times to 1950
- Full-text material, primarily American, with some from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Original documents in the Laurier Archives
- Clara Bernhardt (1928-1991) fonds
- Cambridge, Ontario-area poet, novelist, composer, and columnist. The collection includes publications, manuscripts, scrapbooks, correspondence, diaries and other papers.
- John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) collection
- English lecturer and novelist, whose works included Wolf Solent and A Glastonbury Romance. The collection includes reproductions of publications, newspaper clippings, and correspondence.
Critical reception and publication history
- Dictionary of Literary Biography
- Often provides an overview of the reception of a work. Search for your author or title in Gale's Literary Index to identify the appropriate volumes.
- Look for biographies of your author (subject term: biography), then check the table of contents and index for mentions of your work
- Cambridge University Press
- Look for an edition of your work by this press; these often include publication history
- News archives online late 18th century to early 21st
- Search for reviews from the time your work was published
- Book reviews
- Use these tools for books published since 1900
Historical and social contexts
When studying a literary work, you may want to learn about the context:
- historical events from the time period
- social or psychological issues affecting the characters
To find information, you may need to expand beyond the specific resources for literature. Examples:
- books on history or social conditions (see search tips below)
- Primary sources for history
Here are some terms and phrases to add to your Primo catalogue searches. Once you find a good source, click on "details" and then on the subject heading that best matches your search.
- "context" Search along with the author's name
- context Austen
- "social conditions" Sample subject heading:
- England social conditions 16th century
- "social life and customs" Sample subject heading:
- Canada social life and customs 19th century
- "political and social views" Sample subject heading:
- Shakespeare William political and social views
- "history" Sample subject heading:
- Great Britain history 1660-1714
- "intellectual life" Sample subject heading:
- New York intellectual life 20th century
- America: History and Life
- Identify articles, books and book chapters for Canadian and American history.
- Historical Abstracts
- Identify articles, books and book chapters for English and world history back to 1450.
- Cambridge Histories Online
- 250 volumes covering English and American history and related topics.
- Social History of England, by Asa Briggs
- New York, Viking Press, 1984. Print location: HN398 .E5B74 1984
- Short history of early modern England: British literature in context, by Peter C. Herman
- Chicester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011
- Culture of the English People: Iron age to the industrial revolution, by Norman Pounds
- Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print location: DA110 .P683
- Origins of modern English society, by Harold James Perkin
- London: Routledge, 2002
- History of Canada, by Scott See
- Amenia: Greyhouse Publishing, 2010
- America: a concise history, by James Henretta
- Boston, Bedford, 2012. Print location: E178.1 .H5 2010