Oxford English Dictionary (New Edition). (BU)

The OED is a comprehensive dictionary of English. It gives detailed word histories, variants, and examples.

For pages giving links to other dictionaries, in English and many other languages, please see the Linguistics Research Guide.

French dictionaries are specifically covered in the French Language and Literature research guide, German dictionaries in the German Language and Literature research guide, Italian dictionaries in the Italian Language and Literature research guide, and Spanish dictionaries in the Spanish and Latin American Language and Literature guide.


Copyright issues mean that most texts on the web are from the early 20th century or before.You may be able to find a few sites that (either with permission of the author or illegally) reproduce items still protected by copyright.

Start at some of the well-known and reputable archives:

Bibliomania (non-profit site)

A UK site that has more than 2000 free texts of classical world literature works.

The On-Line Books Page (Carnegie Mellon University)

Metasite that serves as an index to 7,000+ books (English or English translation) on the Internet.

Project Gutenberg (non-profit site)

Earliest Internet collection of texts. Currently contains 1,400+ texts in ASCII format, mostly in English.

Internet Archive

Non-profit digital library of works published before copyright.

Internet Public Library: Online Texts Collection (non-profit site)

Over 7,500 titles. Can be accessed by author, title, or Dewey Subject Classification.

Oxford Text Archive (Oxford University)

Contains a searchable database and the possibility of searching through each text.

Not all texts listed are currently available.


A UK site by Hyperfiction that offers full text of many short stories.

Women Writers Online (Bu-px)

Fulltext collection of women’s writing covering 1400-1850.
Entries can be browsed, searched, and analysed.

For specific literatures/languages:

Literature Online (LION) (ChRiv)

“The home of English and American Literature…” provides “A fully searchable library of over 250,000 works of English and American literature.”

Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (University of California-Berkeley)

Search in multiple English and American literary texts; can download in PDF format.

Deutsche Literatur im Internet (Western European Specialists Section of the Amer. Library Assn.)

Text collections and author index. Texts are in German; annotations to sites are in English.

Electronic Poetry Center (SUNY-Buffalo)

Selection of modern American poetry, by author (plus biographical information on authors).

Project Bartleby Archive (Columbia University)

Fiction, poetry and essays in English; includes Bartlett’s Familar Quotations (1910).

Representative Poetry (University of Toronto)

Anthology of English poetry, from medieval to early twentieth century (730 poems by 80 authors).

TEAMS Middle English Texts (U. of Rochester and Western Mich. University)

TEAMS (The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) publishes this text series. Available through BU OPAC.

Wright American Fiction, 1851-1875 (Indiana Univ. Digital Library Program)

Collection of 19th C. American fiction, as listed in Lyle Wright’s bibliography ‘American Fiction, 1851-1875′ (XZ1231 F4 F57). 2,887 volumes to date. Available through BU OPAC.

Foreign sites

Japanese Text Initiative (University of Virginia)

A collaborative effort to make texts of classical Japanese literature available on the World Wide Web.

Project Runeberg (LYSATOR at Linkvping University, Sweden)

The largest Nordic literature site on the web. Numerous literary texts online, as well as a great deal of information about Nordic literature.

Ukranian Literature (commercial site)

Mostly poetry, alphabetical by author.


It is possible to find biographical and/or bibliographical information even for authors whose works continue to be protected by copyright. Often these pages will include images of the author, and at least excerpts or quotations from his or her work.

Gale Literary Databases (BU)

Contains Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. These three databases, which may be searched together or separately, provide biographical and critical information on a wide variety of authors.

There are several pages that index sites with information about authors:

Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature (Univ. of CA-Santa Barbara)

Detailed list of links to sites for authors and movements, organized by time-period and/or genre.

Literary Resources on the Net. (Rutgers University)

Well-organized links to sites for authors and movements. Primarily English/American literature; there is also a page for “Other National Literatures.”

Other sites provide information about authors in a specific category, for example (in alphabetical order):

Bohemian Ink. (commercial site)

Information, excerpts, and links to relevant sites for authors such as Kerouac, Heller, Salinger, etc.

Images et textes du XIXe siecle francophone. (Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

General overview of the period and links to texts; it is searchable by author or date.

Literatura Espanola Medieval y del Renacimiento. (Universitat de Valencia)

Texts and an e-journal, LEMIR, devoted to medieval Spanish literature.

Official Website of the Nobel Foundation. (non-profit site)

Dedicated to all categories of Nobel Prizes, it includes authors awarded the literature prize.

Literary Criticism

To find literary criticism on a particular work or topic, use indices which provide information about articles and book chapters. Project MUSE provides the full-text of the articles it covers. For the others, you must retrieve the article from the journal or book in which it appeared. You can find if the Boston University Libraries own the book or journal by using the online catalog.

If you need to do an interlibrary loan for the work, you can do it at the Reference Desk, or online.

MLA. 1963-present. (BU-px)

The MLA International Bibliography, produced by the Modern Language Association of America, indexes critical materials on modern languages, literature, linguistics and folklore in more than 3,000 journals and series,monographs, working papers, proceedings, bibliographies and dissertations. The materials are in many languages.

Humanities Abstracts Full Text. 1984-present (BU-px)

Humanities Abstracts provides indexing to approximately 400 English-language humanities journals. You can search each journal individually, a selection of those available, or all of them together. Some articles are in full-text, you have the choice of HTML or PDF format.

Project Muse. 1995-present. (ChRiv-px)

Project Muse enables access to the past five years of the Johns Hopkins University Press’ forty-plus journals in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics. You can search each journal individually, a selection of those available, or all of them together. The full-text of the articles is given in HTML format; the notes are hyperlinked.

JSTOR. dates vary. (BU-px)

JSTOR (“Journal Storage”) provides access to almost every issue (usually from the first issue up until the last couple of years) of over 100 journals in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics. You can search each journal individually, a selection of those available, or all of them together. The full-text of the articles is given in PDF format.

Web of Science [includes Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI)]. 1988-present. (BU-px)

This is a multidisciplinary database indexing journal articles; the Arts & Humanities Citation Index section covers “1,100 of the world’s leading arts and humanities journals.” To find articles on a given subject, choose “GENERAL SEARCH”; for references cited in articles choose “CITED REF SEARCH.”

Hispanic American Periodicals Index. 1970-present.(ChRiv-px)

This source indexes material on United States-Hispanic and Latin-American topics from more than 400 scholarly journals worldwide. Articles are in many languages.

FRANCIS. 1984-present.(ChRiv-px)

This database indexes material in the humanities, social sciences, and economics. It is strong in religion, the history of art, and literature, with emphasis on current trends in European and world literature.

Literary Criticism (full-text)

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. 1994 (regularly updated).

The Guide, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, is a standardcritical resource. Online, this is a searchable and well-indexed guide.

Library Catalogues

To determine if a book or journal exists, or to see if a library owns it, look in online catalogues. Start with Boston University’s catalogue, and then check other locations.

Boston University

This is the catalogue of items held by the Boston University Libraries.

Boston Library Consortium Gateway

Items held by consortium libraries are available to BU students/faculty/staff with a consortium card.

WorldCat (ChRiv-px)

A user-friendly version of a catalogue (sometimes known as OCLC) containing more than 32 million records of items owned by libraries around the world, including most Boston University Libraries. Every record includes a list of the libraries that own the item in question.

Library of Congress

In addition to having a large collection, the Library of Congress receives a copy of every book published in the United States.


compiles this world-wide extensive list of available on-line catalogs.

Citing Sources

As with any source, it is necessary to state clearly the place on the Internet from which you take your information. At the Reference Desk are print sources that provide information about various citation styles; for literary research, often the guidelines issued by the MLA are required:

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 2nd Ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1998. (Mugar Reference X PN147 G444 1998)

MLA Style

The official page of the Modern Language Association of America explains the MLA citation guidelines for Web sources. From the home page, select “MLASTYLE.”

The Columbia Guide to Online Style: MLA-Style Citations of Electronic Sources

These guidelines are endorsed by the Alliance for Computers & Writing.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online

This guide is an introduction to literary research on the Internet. It makes no effort to be comprehensive, only to suggest strategies and resources. Sources are arranged in order of relative value to the researcher.

Some of these resources are those to which the Boston University Libraries subscribe for the use of BU students, faculty and staff. Because of the agreements with the companies which sell them, they are only available to computers accessing the Internet through BU (either on campus or via Information Technology); they are denoted as “BU only.”

Diane d’Almeida (