English Subject Guide

Ann Grafstein, MLIS, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

English Subject Specialist





*    Finding Books 

*    Finding Articles

*    Reference Sources

*    Web Resources



Finding Books




LEXICAT: Hofstra’s Online Library Catalog


Use the catalog to see what books we own at Hofstra. Use it to find the books we own by a particular author, or see if we have the title you are looking for. You can also find literary criticism of specific authors or works, as well as biographical information about authors. Use LEXICAT also to find video recordings of literary works.


Electonic Books - ebrary


The library subscribes to ebrary, a collection of electronic books; currently there are over 41,800 titles in this collection. You can find many titles on the English language and literature. For full functionality, download the free ebrary reader by following the instructions on the ebrary site. There is a link to ebrary on the library’s home page, and all of the titles in ebrary are in LEXICAT, along with links that will take you directly to them.


MLA International Bibliography


Available through the Research Databases on the library’s homepage, you can use this database, produced by the Modern Language Association, to find books of literary criticism. Check LEXICAT  to see if Hofstra owns the book. If we do not own it, you can request it from Interlibrary Loan. If you do not have an account, follow the instructions for First Time Users.




WorldCat is the largest catalog in the world, with over 57,000,000 records. WorldCat entries will tell you if the book you’re looking for is available at Hofstra. If it is not, you can request it from Interlibrary Loan. If you do not have an account, follow the instructions for First Time Users.


Free Online Books


There are some sites that make the full text of certain electronic books available for free. Here is a list of some of those sites:


*      Project Gutenberg


*      Electronic Text Center (University of Virginia Library)

Axinn_teenygeometric1.gif   The Online Books Page (University of Pennsylvania)


*    Bibliomania





Finding Articles




Find articles using the Research Databases on the library’s homepage. Below is a list of some of the databases that will help you find literary criticism, biographical information about authors, book reviews and guides to help you understand literary works.


*      Academic Search Premier

Use this multidisciplinary database for both literary criticism and book reviews. It has both scholarly and popular articles and much of it is full text.


*      Book Review Index

A comprehensive guide to book reviews. It is not full text, so you will need to use Journal Finder to help you try to locate the full text. If you cannot access the full text, you may request it from Interlibrary Loan. If you do not have an account, follow the instructions for First Time Users.


*      Dictionary of Literary Biogaphy

Contains over 16,000 biographical and critical essays on the lives, works and careers of important literary figures from all eras and genres. The entries have been scanned in from the classic print source, so each one looks exactly like the printed entry.


*      Early English Books Online

Contains over 100,000 titles from the first book published in English in the fifteenth century through 1700.


*      Electronic Journal Service (EJS)

An index to thousands of journal articles on a wide variety of topics, including English language and literature. You have access to the full text for over 500 journals to which Hofstra subscribes.


*      JSTOR

Contains the full text of scholarly articles on a variety of topics, including literary criticism and book reviews. JSTOR goes back to the first issue of every journal included in its collection, but it does not include the latest two to five years of issues.


*      Literature Criticism Online

A full text digitized version of almost the entire the Gale publishing company’s reference sets on literature and authors. Students are the primary audience for this set.


*      Literature Resource Center

Contains a large portion of the printed Gale literature reference sets. Use this for finding biographical information, the full text of journal articles containing literary criticism and reviews of literary works. Also available are work overviews, giving descriptions of the work, historical context, plot summaries and descriptions of the characters.


*      New York Review of Books

Contains the full text of in-depth book reviews on a wide variety of topics, including fiction and literary criticism.


*      New York Times (Current) and New York Times Historical

Use the NYT Current for the full text of book reviews and obituaries from 1980 to the present. Use NYT Historical for issues for book reviews and obituaries from the first issue in 1851 to 2005.


*      MLA International Bibliography

A bibliographic database that includes articles on literary criticism. It is not full text, so you will need to use Journal Finder to help you try to locate the full text. If you cannot access the full text, you may request it from Interlibrary Loan. If you do not have an account, follow the instructions for First Time Users.


*      Project Muse

Contains the full text of scholarly journals. It is a good source for literary criticism and book reviews.


*      SAGE Journals

Provides full text access to articles in journals published by SAGE, a reputable publishing company.





Reference Resources




Print Sources


Listed here are general reference sources on literature, literary terms and the theory of literary criticism. Not included are works about specific authors or specific types of authors (e.g., Shakespeare, women writers, black writers or Hispanic writers). All of these titles are either in the reference room or at the reference desk.


*      MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition), Joseph Gibaldi: Call # [REF] LB2369 .G53 2009 (Located the Reference Desk)

The latest edition of the MLA citation guide. For a quick guide to creating a works cited list, see the MLA Citation Guide available on the library’s homepage.


*      A Glossary of Literary Terms (9th edition), eds. M.H. Abrams & G. G. Halpham: Call # [REF] PN41 .A184 2009


*       Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms, ed., Irena Makaryk. Call #: [REF] PN81 .E43 1993


*      A Handbook to Literature, (8th edition), eds. William Harmon & C. Hugh Holman

At the end of the alphabetical list of literary terms is an outline of British and American literary history becinning at approximately 55 BCE.


*      Literary Movements for Students (2 vols.): Call # [REF] PN597 .L58 2002


*      Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd (20 vols.): Call # [REF] PE1625 O87 1989

The accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It illustrates meaning changes in words using quotations ranging from classical literature to periodicals, film scripts and cook books. See also the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.


*      Twentieth-Century Literary Movements Dictionary, eds. Helene Henderson & Jay Pederson: Call # [REF] PN 597 .T94 2000.


*      A Dictionary of Biblical Allusions in English Literature, Walter B. Fulghum, Jr.: Call #  [REF] PR145 F8

An alphabetical arrangement of some of the Biblical allusions used in literary works.

Electronic  Sources


These are sources that are available online through the Research Databases library’s homepage.


*      Biography Reference Bank

With over 95,000 biographies and obituaries, this is a good source of biographical information on authors. Make sure you click on the Biography Reference Bank box in the Database Selection area at the top.


*      The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

Updated from the 1994 printed edition, this guide is a source of information about literary theory and discourse.


*      LitFinder

Covers world literature and authors from throughout history. Contains over 150,000 full text poems and over 800,000 citations to poetry. Also included are the full text of some short stories as well as biographical information.


*      Oxford English Dictionary

See description of the printed version of the Oxford English Dictionary


*      Twayne’s Authors Series

Offers full text in-depth coverage of over 600 world authors.


The reference source listed below is not available through the Research Databases. It is a freely available compilation of a variety of useful reference works. It also includes the full text of some literary works.


* Great Books Online

Includes such useful reference sets as the American Heritage Dictionary, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, King James Bible, Oxford Shakespeare (1914 Oxford edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare), Roget’s Thesauri and Strunk’s Elements of Style as well as the full text of poetry, and as well as some works of fiction and non-fiction.






Web Resources




Online Guides for Style, Writing and Research


*      OWL (Online Writing Lab) – Purdue University

This site contains a wealth of free, useful information on the writing process for a variety of different purposes. It also provides help on doing literary analysis and criticism. Here too you can locate online citation guides for both MLA and APA style.


*      Online Resources for Writers – Amherst College Writing Center

This is a gateway to a wide variety of writing resources: it provides categorized links to resources on every stage of the writing process, including topic selection, formulating a thesis statement, the proper use of outside sources, and proofreading and editing. It also includes links to help you with grammar, style and punctuation.


       Online Literary Resources

     Literary Criticism- General


*      Online Literary Criticism Guide – Internet Public Library

A fairly comprehensive gateway to resources on literary criticism available on the web. The site categorizes the links according to type of criticism.


*      Unrestricted Online Literary Criticism & Language Journals – New York Public Library

This site provides access to literary criticism and language resources in scholarly journals that permit free access to the full text of their articles.

*      The Paris Review

Based on the well-known print publication of the same title, which publishes original creative works and in-depth interviews with authors. Many of the older interviews are available full text in .pdf format and there are also audio files of interviews available, as well as recordings of author interviews or readings. More recent material is available for purchase.

Specific Authors and Literatures

Here is a fairly random selection of sites on selected authors and literatures. In some cases you will find biographical and critical information, and in others you will find links to primary sources.

*      The Melville Society

A non-profit organization whose goal is to promote knowledge of the life and work of Herman Melville. In addition to conducting programs, the Society publishes the journal Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, edited by Hofstra English Professor John Bryant.

*      The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society

The executive director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society is Hofstra English professor Ruth Prigozy. The mandate of the Society promote F. Scott Fitzgerald studies by disseminating information through the newsletters, the conferences it organizes, the creation of bibliographies, and the publication of The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review.

*      Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet

A very thorough web site, with sections on the life and times of Shakespeare, his works,  criticism, information on Shakespearean and Elizabethan theatre productions, and links to information sources on Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Renaissance studies.  There are also links to other sources where you may find information on Shakespeare’s biblical, classical and mythological allusions.

*      Shakespeare Resource Center

A valuable site that includes information on Shakespeare himself, Elizabethan England, an overview of the four periods of his works, and links to criticism, a discussion of  authorship controversies, as well as an overview of Shakespeare’s use of language—including an online glossary—and links to other sites giving relevant information on Shakespearean English.

*      English Literature on the Web

Provides links to information about different authors, as well as literary genres and time periods. It links to some primary resources as well.

*      Walt Whitman Archive

Provides access to Whitman’s vast body of work. It includes biographical and critical information, as well as his manuscripts, letters and published works. There is also an image archive and a recording of “America” in what is believed to be Whitman’s voice.