American Literature for Sophomores

We can't fit every resource about American Literature on this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.

Curley, Dorothy. (1969). A library of literary criticism : modern American literature. 4 Volumes. REF 810.9 C93 A 4-volume collection of criticisms on various authors. Includes bibliographies.
Parini, Jay. (2003). American writers : classics. 388 pages. REF 810.9 Am3 2003 v.1
Smith, Valerie. (2001). African American writers. REF 810.9 Am1 2001 Includes bibliographical references and index.
Unger, Leonard. (1981). American writers : a collection of literary biographies. 4 Volumes. REF 810.9 Am3 A 4-volume collection (with 3 supplements) featuring biographies on various American writers.


Books by American authors, about American Literature, its themes, eras, and literary forms can be found in various sections of the library. Many of the books listed below are found in the 800 section, particularly 810, 813, and 814. You may find you need materials that deal with U.S. history or politics to supplement your arguments; look for those in the 970 section. You may also want to examine social issues in the United States, which can often be found in 305s and 306s. Be sure to examine the catalog to uncover materials under other subject areas to ensure full support of any thesis statement.

Cavall, Stanley. (1972). The senses of Walden. 120 pages. 814 C31
DeMarr, Mary Jean. (1999). Barbara Kingsolver : a critical companion. 156 pages. 813.54 D39 1999
Johnson, Claudia. (2007). Class conflict in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The great Gatsby. 153 pages. 813 CLA 2007


Log into any of these databases by clicking on the link. If you are away from campus, please read the instructions on remote access, located here.

Biography Resource Center A database of complete biographies on notable people around the world.
Contemporary Literary Criticism A database offering full-text articles on literature.
Gale Student Edition Full-text articles and other multimedia geared toward high school students. Go here before Google! Search for subject "American and Literature" to find full-text articles; multimedia, newspapers, and other popular resources. Author searches and subject area searches are also possible. Play with different combination of search terms; for questions, consult the BCDS library for searching help.
Readers Guide Full Text Select Good source of articles and criticisms. Check box for Readers Guide Full Text select. Basic or advanced search: "American and Literature".

Internet sites

American Literature on the Web A list of websites about American literature, hosted by Washington State University.
Early Americas Digital Archive A searchable archive at the University of Maryland that includes electronic texts and links to texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820.
Early American Women Writers A comprehensive website at the University of Connecticut dedicated to female writers in the 19th and early 20th century.
Outline of American Literature A narrative, broken down by period, housed at
Perspectives in American Literature An extensive online portal housed at California State University.

BPL: electronic resources

JSTOR: More than 600 core scholarly journals focusing on literature and the humanities. Collection spans the last 150 years but does not includes most current 3 to 5 years.
Literary Resource Center: Full-text database that combines more than 1,000 books, major literary encyclopedias, and reference works from antiquity to the present. It also houses more than 100 literary journals and unique sources not available elsewhere.
Student Resource Center: Designed for grades 6-12, this database offers easy keyword searching across journals, images, books, and reference materials.

Updated 10-09.