Skip to main content

English and American Literature: Finding Books

A resource guide for the study of English and American Literature

Search BobCat

Search for books, journals, videos, etc. in our local libraries and special collections.

Recommend a title for purchase

Have you heard about a great book, but found that it is not available in the NYU Libraries? You can now recommend that a copy be purchased for the collection.

Become a better researcher - try using Subject Headings

Subject headings are words and phrases which constitute a "controlled vocabulary" to categorize books by subject field.  Subject headings often indicate the contents of books in terms that their titles (or your keywords) do not use, which often may be very general.

Use general subject headings for searching a broad topic or more specific subject headings for a specific text, film, or play. You will find (more) headings specific to the subject category within the left-hand facets in our online catalog, Bobcat.  If you want to see the subject headings for a specific title, click on the "details" link in the title record.  Here are some examples:

English literature -- 18th century -- History and criticism

American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism

Marxist criticism

Women in literature

You can also use subject headings to locate material on a specific author. When referring to specific people, subject headings often include birth and death dates. Here are some examples:

Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900 -- Biography

Milton, John, 1608-1674 -- Criticism and interpretation

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861

Need the full-text fast? Try Literature Online (LION)

Literature Online (LION) isn't just for literary criticism - it also contains full-text editions of major works (and some not so major works as well!). There are a number of ways to search for texts, so here are a few:

  • Using the "Texts" link in the top menu and then the "search" option, search for works using title, author, or keywords.
  • Using the "Texts" link in the top menu and the "browse" option, select "All texts" to browse by literary period. You can also see poems from major anthologies and literary works published in journals.

Browsing Books in the Stacks

Academic libraries that use the Library of Congress Classification Outline (the majority of them) can easily be browsed for serendipitous discovery of wonderful books in your subject area. All you need to know is the call number range to get yourself situated.

Library of Congress Call Number Areas:

PE - English Language; examples:

  • PE501-593 Middle English
  • PE814-896 Early Modern English

PN - Literature (General); examples:

  • PN441-1009.5 Literary History
  • PN6010-6790 Collections of general literature

PR - English Literature; examples:

  • PR1-56 Literary history and criticism
  • PR3291-3785 17th and 18th centuries (1640-1770)

PS - American Literature; examples:

  • PS501 - 689 Collections of American literature
  • PS3550 - 3576 1961 - 2000

Here is the whole list of the Library of Congress Classification for Class P - Language and Literature:

Books Beyond NYU

HathiTrust Digital Library

Haven't heard of Hathi? Give it a try! HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives. Bibliographic and full text search are available for all volumes in HathiTrust. Public domain volumes are freely accessible to the public and can be downloaded in their entirety with authentication by persons affiliated with partner institutions. NYU Libraries is a HathiTrust partner institution.