Reference materials include biographies and encyclopedia-type sources that provide a factual overview of or introduction to an author, work, or genre.
Why use reference sources when you need literary criticism?
- identify terminology for themes or concepts you encounter
- gain perspective on the existing scholarly conversation
Use simple searches in these resources such as:
- author's name (e.g. Tananarive Due)
- work title (e.g. My soul to keep)
- genre (e.g. gothic)
Make note of:
- facts: dates, locations, historical events, people
- themes/frames: post-modernism, matriarchy, family, immortality, racial identity
- similar authors or works
- reference lists/further reading
- Always use the Advanced Search option for more control and options
- Use options to refine the search results to focus on reference sources like:
- Reference books
- Plot summaries
- Work overview
Literary Reference Center
Paid for by K-State Libraries
Offers full-text reference resources geared primarily toward undergraduate students. In addition to critical reviews of literature and encyclopedias, the Literary Reference Center also provides biographies, book reviews, author interviews, synopses and work overviews, literary journals, classic novels, and classic and contemporary short stories and poems.
Literary Sources (formerly Literature Resource Center)
Simultaneous users: 2 Paid for by K-State Libraries
Provides access to biographies, bibliographies, and critical analyses of authors from every age and literary discipline.
Example Reference Books
American Women Writers
Call Number: Online
Publication Date: 1999-12-03
Including up-to-date coverage of 1300 writers and spanning from colonial days to the present, this reference offers biography, criticism, bibliography and much more.
Encyclopedia of Allegorical Literature
Call Number: PN56.A5 L44 1996 | Hale Library Stack Level E
Publication Date: 1996-09-01
Entries cover the Western allegorical tradition, as well as selected Indian, Middle Eastern, South American, and African works.
Dictionary of literary biography
Call Number: PN451 .D487 | Hale Stack Level E
This multi-volume set provides biographies of authors in American and English literature. While you can use the print volumes, the information is also found in the database, Literature Resource Center.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature
Call Number: PS153.M56 G74 2005 (Dow Center for Multicultural and Community Studies -- Hale 4th Floor)
Publication Date: 2005-10-01
This encyclopedia provides more than 1100 biographical and topical entries by more than 300 scholars and reflects the vast cultural diversity of American literature.