World Languages & Literatures

Collection Selector

photo of Barbara Maratos

Barbara Maratos

Literature & Languages Librarian

Mugar Memorial Library

General Purpose of the Collection

The collection consists of approximately 54,500 volumes of literature and literary criticism, covering a number of languages. It contains literary works as well as materials in critical theory and criticism of specific authors, genres, and texts. Particularly strong are the collections devoted to general critical theory, French literature, and Spanish literature. The collection of German literature has grown extensively and now includes many fine editions of German writers. Literature in other languages forms a small portion of the overall collection. The collection supports faculty and graduate-student research in Medieval, Renaissance, and 17th and 18th Century French literature. In terms of Spanish works, the collection supports faculty and graduate student research in medieval and early-modern Spanish literature, 19th and 20th Century works, and contemporary Latin American literature. In support of an undergraduate program in Japanese, the Japanese portion of the collection has expanded.

This collection supports research in comparative literature and a variety of foreign languages as well as in translation studies. Because of the language requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences, most degree candidates in that College are likely to use these resources. Major fields in the Departments of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature and Romance Studies supported by this collection are French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Approximately one-half of all students take either French or Spanish courses. Minor fields supported are Comparative Literature, Hebrew, Ibero-American Studies, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian. Other languages taught are Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Graduate level courses are offered in French, Italian, and Spanish; however, only French and Spanish have MA and PhD programs through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The collection supports the new Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies, as well as the critical theory and comparative literature interests of the Department of English.

Scope of Coverage

1. Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded:  The collection contains most modern languages, with the exception of African languages, Greek, and American Sign Language. The German, Spanish and Turkish collections have recently improved markedly. Translations of English or American literature into a foreign language, or translations from one foreign language into another (e.g., German into French) are rarely acquired unless the translation itself is of literary significance. Similarly, the collection excludes literary criticism of specific works in a language other than the language of the author or English (e.g., an Italian study of a Spanish novel).
2. Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources (or both) and specific areas excluded, as appropriate. All geographical areas are covered with the exception of studies of English, American, African, or Greek literature. These areas are covered in other collections.
3. Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriateThe collection is not limited in terms of chronological periods.
4. Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate; MLCL acquisitions emphasize current works. Older publications are acquired selectively and on request.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The general scope of this collection is primarily determined by Library of Congress call numbers PB-PT.


  • PB 1-141 : Modern European Languages
  • PC-PD : Romanic and Germanic Languages
  • PF-PL 8000 : West Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, Albanian, Basque, Uralic, Oriental, Eastern Asian, Oceanic Languages and Literatures
  • PJ 9001-9293 : See African Studies Library Collection Development policies
  • PN 1-1529 : Literary History and Collections
  • PQ 1-1999 : Romance Literature
  • PT : Germanic Literature
  • Z 1201-4980.A-.Z : National Bibliography
  • Z 6511-6525 : Literature Bibliography
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

Collected Selectively:

  • P 306-310 : Language – Translating and Interpreting
  • P 311 : Prosody, Metrics, Rhythmics
  • PB 142-431 : Language
  • PN 1530-1590 : Performing Arts, Show Business
  • PN 1600-1988 : Drama
  • PN 2152-3035 : Dramatic Representation, The Theater, By Period (Medieval, Renaissance, Modern)
  • PN 4400 : Literary History and Collections – Letters
  • PN 4500 : Literary History and Collections – Essays
  • PN 6061-6790 : Collections of General Literature

Collected Very Selectively:

  • PM 8001-9021 : Artificial Languages

All items in these categories are housed in Mugar Memorial Library.

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

The collection is related to several other collections in the library.

African Studies
The African Studies Selector chooses all material on African languages and literatures (PL 8000-8814). There is consultation with the African Studies Selector in the purchase of some literature, particularly Afro-Caribbean writers, authors of African extraction living outside of Africa, and African authors of European extraction.
Acquisitions of literature in Native American languages are discussed with the Anthropology Selector.
All Greek language and literature (ancient or modern) is acquired by the Classics Selector.
The Communication Selector collects materials on broadcasting (PN 1990-1997.85) and journalism (PN 4699-5650).
English and American literature and language
The English and American Literature and Language Selector acquires material dealing with English literature; the English language; and English language materials dealing with prose, oratory, style, composition, and rhetoric (PN 3311-4355). The English and American Literature and Language Selector also acquires material dealing with the Celtic languages and Celtic literature, in addition to material dealing with the English language and English-language literature of the Americas.
The History collection contains some writings that can be considered literature. Likewise, the Modern Languages collection supports History in the purchase of selected types of theory as well as by obtaining texts which can serve as primary documents.
Collaboration occurs with the Linguistics Selector, especially in the areas of dictionaries, translation studies, and discourse analysis.
Consultation occurs with the Music Selector regarding texts that have been set to music. In addition, the Music Selector acquires amateur theatricals (PN 3151-3299).
The Philosophy collection contains some writings that can be considered literature. Likewise, the Modern Languages collection supports Philosophy in the purchase of selected types of theory and theoretical writings by literary authors.
The Religion collection contains some writings that can be considered literature.
The Theatre Selector collects materials dealing with acting, the stage and accessories (PN 2000-3307).

Types of Materials

Books, periodicals, reference materials, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, biographical dictionaries, directories, companions, concordances, and indices.
Collected Selectively
Electronic resources, proceedings, multimedia, and microforms.
Not Collected
Government documents, newspapers, textbooks, juvenile literature, films, video recordings, dissertations, and theses.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Geddes Language Center contains instructional materials for language learning, as well as foreign-language films and videos.

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center houses a large collection of books from four great Middle Eastern libraries. The collection is called the Frye Collection or the Islamic Book Collections.

Krasker Film/Video Services provides instructional media support to University classes. Faculty may reserve any of more than 18,500 film and video titles from the Krasker collection for classroom use. Krasker also has an onsite previewing room at Mugar Memorial Library, basement level, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, equipped to screen all formats in the Krasker collection, including 16mm, VHS, Laser Disc, DVD, and Blu-ray.