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English Comprehensive Exam Guide


The print reference collection is on the main floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library, near the windows facing Mac Hall. It's worth a visit, and a browse. Materials can only be used in the Library.

For your convenience, a list of key English-related reference books is available for download below. The materials can also be found via the main library search page.

Many useful reference-like books can be found in the circulating collection; i.e. in the TFDL stacks or the HDL. They are available electronically or in print.

Specific keywords, often found in titles of reference books, can help when searching for reference material. Here are some examples:

  • companion
  • dictionary
  • encylopedia
  • guide
  • handbook

Using one of these terms, together with keywords that describe your topic of interest, helps limit your results.  To demonstrate how this works, below you'll find four sample searches conducted from the library homepage main search box. Notice that the search brings up books from the TFDL, the HDL, reference, and in electronic form.


Search for: companion american literature

Search for: encyclopedia literary theory

Search for: guide australian literature

Search for: dictionary literary terms

Use the form on the left to make a suggestion - we look forward to receiving them.

The Cambridge Companions to Literature and Classics series: This collection offers essays on major authors, periods and genres. For the author Companions, each writer is placed in literary and historical context; their major works are analyzed, either in separate chapters or grouped according to theme, and their influence on later writers assessed.  The library holds many of these companions to individual authors, periods, or genres.  Click here to see a sample of results, or use the library search box to do a more focused search.

The Oxford Handbook series: This collection offers in-depth scholarly articles on literature, drama and poetry, grouped by period and/or country.  The essays contained in the handbooks are specially commissioned, and are intended to provide a critical examination of the progress and direction of debates, as well as a foundation for future research. Click here to see a sample of results, or use the library search box to do a more focused search.