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English Language & Literature

Literary Histories

While literary histories aim to offer a well-informed and reasonable objective overview, they are more detailed and interpretive than encyclopedias. They are useful for learning about trends in literature over a broad period. For example, you might want to place a work in the context of the development of a particular genre or within a period in history.
 
Histories provide background reading to address other questions such as: What form did literature take in the fifteenth century? Which female authors were writing in the Middle Ages? When did a particular school of criticism begin? Histories generally represent the consensus view against which new ideas or interpretations can be tested.
 
Electronic version of the 1907-1921 edition of the Cambridge History of English and American Literature.
 
The Cambridge History of English Literature
REF PR83.C3 1961
A fifteen-volume set providing a chronological survey from beginnings in the Old English period to the end of the nineteenth century. Index in volume 15.
 
 
The Oxford History of English Literature
Call number varies (PR400-600 section)
This literary series (15 volumes) covers English literature from earliest known works to present. Each volume contains critical writings on a particular successive literary period. Includes excellent bibliographies. To find the Library's holdings, search QCAT by series title.

A Literary History of England
REF PR83.B3 1967
"Although dated in many respects, the work is still the best single-volume history of English literature".
 
REF PN86.C27 1989
Intended as a history of Western literary theory and criticism from classical antiquity to the present. Each volume of the 9 volume set consists of separately-authored essays on major theorists, groups, movements or schools, periods, and genres, and concludes with a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

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For other literary histories, try a keyword search.  For example:

"united states" and history and (literature or literary)