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A guide to literature research resources from UMSL Libraries.

Text: Literature Research Guide. Bookshelf in the background.


This guide offers an introduction to literature resources and research at UMSL Libraries. You will find help with:

  • Using our main search tool, Discover@UMSL, to find articles, books, and more
  • Locating reference texts for background information
  • Navigating literature and literary criticism databases
  • Citing sources

Use the navigation tabs on the left to explore. For more advanced research help, please contact the library!

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Toward an Anti-Racist Poetics

Explores how we might collectively develop a poetic approach that makes space for diversity by doing away with universalism in both lyric and avant-garde verse.

How Writing Made Us Human, 3000 BCE to Now

A sweeping history of how writing has preserved cultural practices, traditions, and knowledge throughout human history.

The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley

Offers the deepest account to date of Wheatley's life and works, correcting myths, reconstructing intimate friendships, and deepening our understanding of the revolutionary era. He demonstrates the continued vitality and resonance of a woman who wrote, in a founding gesture of American literature, "Thy Power, O Liberty, makes strong the weak / And (wond'rous instinct) Ethiopians speak."

Before Fanfiction

Investigates the overlapping cultures of fandom and American literature from the late 1800s to the mid-1940s, exploding the oft-repeated myth that fandom has its origins in the male-dominated letter columns of science fiction pulp magazines in the 1930s. By reexamining the work of popular American women writers and their fans, Alexandra Edwards recovers the literary history of American media fandom, drawing previously ignored fangirls into the spotlight.

Cultural Capital

(expanded edition) Reconsiders the social basis for aesthetic judgment and exposes the unequal distribution of symbolic and linguistic knowledge on which culture has long been based.

Take My Word for It

Based on a critical analysis of countless conjectures, with exact, in-depth references (rare in the literature on the subject), Take My Word for It provides not only a large corpus of idiomatic phrases but also a vast bibliography. Detailed indexes and a thesaurus make the content accessible at a glance, and Liberman's introduction and conclusion add historical dimensions.

Literature, Learning, and Social Hierarchy in Early Modern Europe

The literature and literate knowledge that were produced in Europe from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries emanated from societies that were rigidly hierarchical. What difference did that fact make to the literature and literate knowledge? How did social hierarchy shape the production of literature and literate knowledge (by writers, patrons, printers) and their reception (by readers and audiences)?

Light in August

This Norton Critical Edition features William Faulkner's astounding 1932 novel Light in August. Taking place in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, the narrative confronts issues of race, religion, and sexuality that are still relevant to today's readers. The "Backgrounds and Contexts" section presents biographical information on the author, whereas "Reception and Influence" highlights past and present views of Faulkner and his work. "Historical and Cultural Contexts" illustrates the zeitgeist of the early twentieth century, followed by modern critical essays that explore the various facets of the novel.

The Oxford Handbook of W. B. Yeats

Considers Yeats's early toil, his practical and esoteric concerns as his career developed, his friends and enemies, and how he was and is understood. This Handbook brings together critics and writers who have considered what Yeats wrote and how he wrote, moving between texts and their contexts in ways that will lead the reader through Yeats's multiple selves as poet, playwright, public figure, and mystic.