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English & American Literature

encyclopedias, handbooks, companions, subject dictionaries

Collections of Encyclopedias & Companions & Dictionaries - All Subjects

The Howe Library subscribes to many electronic scholarly subject-specific encyclopedias, companions, and dictionaries from two publishers: Gale and Oxford University Press. In addition to searching each title individually, you may search across all the titles in each publisher's aggregated database. The library owns many, many more subject-specific print and online encyclopedias, companions, and dictionaries. Ask a librarian for help in locating these.

Key Sources (Reference, Journal Articles, etc.)

Put the cursor on the "Reference" tab to view a list of additional tabs that point to print and online reference sources on literature-related topics, owned by the Howe Library.

Why Use Reference Books?


  • Provide a scholarly yet accessible introduction to your topic in the broadest sense. Points to a foundational conversation around a topic.
  • Identify key ideas and themes
  • May point to important people associated with your topic
  • Introduce unfamiliar terms that you can add to your list of keywords
  • Provide a list of books and articles useful for further study
  • Subject encyclopedias, in particular, may help you either choose or narrow/focus a topic.

Note: These are considered "tertiary sources," materials in which the information from secondary sources has been "digested," (put it into a convenient, easy-to-read form). They rarely contain original material.