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Scholarly literature

This section guides you through finding writings by scholars who discuss literary works and their historical, cultural and social contexts. These are often known as secondary works.

There are two main ways to discover secondary works: via Library Search and specialist bibliographical databases. 

Library Search

Library Search is the Library's main catalogue and a great starting point for your study and research. Use it to find individual books and journal articles, and books and journals on your subject. 

For advice on using Library Search to find books and articles, refer to the tutorial below or contact me.

Wills Library

Bibliographical databases

Bibliographical databases, sometimes known as subject indexes, provide records of scholarly books, articles, conference papers and doctoral theses. They enable you to do deeper, richer research, and are particularly useful for longer essays and dissertations/theses.

Use of Library Search to find key books on your subject is recommended before you turn to bibliographies/indexes to do more in-depth research.


Library Search tutorial

New additions to the collections

A Companion to American Literature

A comprehensive, chronological overview of American literature in three scholarly and authoritative volumes A Companion to American Literature traces the history and development of American literature from its early origins in Native American oral tradition to 21st century digital literature.

The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing

The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing provides a comprehensive historical overview of the diverse literary traditions impacting on this field's evolution, from the eighteenth century to the present. Drawing on the expertise of over forty international experts, this book gathers innovative scholarship to look forward to new readings and perspectives, while also focusing on undervalued writers, texts, and research areas.

The Cambridge Companion to 'the Canterbury Tales'

Chaucer's best-known poem, The Canterbury Tales, is justly celebrated for its richness and variety, both literary - the Tales include fabliaux, romances, sermons, hagiographies, fantasies, satires, treatises, fables and exempla - and thematic, with its explorations of courtly love and scatology, piety and impiety, chivalry and pacifism, fidelity and adultery. Students new to Chaucer will find in this Companion a lively introduction to the poem's diversity, depth, and wonder. Readers returning to the Tales will appreciate the chapters' fresh engagement with the individual tales and their often complicated critical histories, inflected in recent decades by critical approaches attentive to issues of gender, sexuality, class, and language.

The Oxford handbook of modern Irish fiction

The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Fiction presents authoritative essays by thirty-five distinguished scholars of Irish fiction. Collectively, they provide accessible and incisive assessments of the breadth and achievement of Ireland's modern novelists and short story writers, whose contribution to the evolution and modification of these unique art forms has been far out of proportion to the country's small size. The volume brings an impressive variety of critical perspectives to bear on the development of modern Irish fiction, situating authors, texts, and genres in their social, intellectual, and literary-historical contexts.

Routledge Handbook of Minority Discourses in African Literature

This handbook provides a critical overview of literature dealing with groups of people or regions that suffer marginalization within Africa. The contributors examine a multiplicity of minority discourses expressed in African literature, including those who are culturally, socially, politically, religiously, economically, and sexually marginalized in literary and artistic creations.

Key bibliographical databases

ProQuest One Literature guide

Bibliographical database tutorial

This interactive tutorial guides you through the process of using databases optimally to find information on your topic.It should take about 30 minutes to complete.