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ENGL 302- English Literature from 1800 to the Twentieth Century

Guide for ENGL 302, Spring 2010. This guide was constructed to help you with your assignment entitled “Choices, Contexts and Conversations".

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General Resources

Remember that many resources will address two or even three of the broad questions you may be considering for an assignment. For demonstration purposes, I will use Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Frost at Midnight.

Fears in Solitude and Frost at Midnight 1798 edition title page.

Consider reference sources when you are just getting started with your research on a poem or author. These function along the lines of Wikipedia, giving you a quick overview of the poem or poet, something you can read relatively quickly and get pertinent facts or broad ideas concerning the work that you can use as you go on with your research.

The benefits to looking at a reference source for a summary or introduction are:

  1. The article will be written by a scholar in the field who specializes in the topic or on the author/poet under consideration.
  2. A list of citations will be included which have been vetted by scholars.

The benefits of a crowd-sourced site such as Wikipedia are that:

  1. Entries can sometimes give voice to marginalized authors and different viewpoints (which may or may not be backed up with relevant research).
  2. For good or for ill, Wikipedia is constantly in a state of flux that may offer more current scholarship depending on the author(s) and the article. 

One online reference source is a collection of reference books published by Oxford University Press called Oxford Reference Online

Using the “quick search” box in this resource and searching for “Coleridge, Samuel Taylor”, you will be presented with several entries from sources like the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. These will give you a concise, one or two page overview of the poet, and are particularly useful for any context or background on your topic - for example, telling you which other poets or authors Coleridge is usually linked with.

One useful fact about this entry:

The entry has a bibliography. You can use this bibliography to find the rest of the works you’ll need to complete your assignment, all done by going to a single online reference source. The bibliography items each have a FIND button next to them- click on it and it will tell you which OhioLink libraries (including KSL) have the book.


Reference Databases

A specifically biographical resource that should not be overlooked is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, often referred to as "the DNB".

The entries in this source are typically written by a recognized expert on the person in question; provide excellent, succinct biographies of the subject; and have exceptionally useful bibliographies which list recognized scholarly editions, secondary sources, locations of manuscript collections, locations of likenesses, and even wealth at the time of the person's death.

Another excellent resource for finding a wide range of information about literary authors is the Literary Reference Center. 

You can search by author, and then select from categories such as “biographical”, “literary criticism” or “plot summaries”. All articles are full text. This resource covers all time periods.

Finding original instances of the publication of a work will often be found in the reference sources above. For example, we find that Frost at Midnight was first published in 1798, along with another poem, Fears in Solitude. That publication can be found via our database Eighteenth Century Collections Online.


In addition to the Oxford Reference Online, there are other reference sources that can help with this portion of the assignment. Here are a few:

Other works by Coleridge. It may seem obvious, but performing an author search in the catalog will give you a list of books in our collection written by Coleridge.

In addition, the following books might prove useful:

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