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French Literature: A Guide to Resources: Literary Terms & Concepts

A guide to reference sources and databases available through the Cornell University Library


Roland Barthes

Literary Terms & Concepts

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 10th ed. Boston : Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012.  Olin Ref PN 41 A184 2012
"For clarity, concision and elegance Abrams has few peers and no superiors; plain spoken but not simplistic, his essays on critical methods are the best short treatments in the business." (Choice)
Anthem Dictionary of Literary Terms and Theory by Peter Auger. London : Anthem, c2010. Olin Ref PN41 .A84 2010
Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Ross Murfin, Supryia M. Ray.
Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009. Third edition. Olin Ref PN41 M86 2009
Provides new, reconsidered definitions of more than 500 terms mindful of the "changing inflections surrounding their use in contemporary critical discourse." (intro) Ranges from the practical and specific (ottava rima, metyonymy) to the historical and conceptual (Russian formalism, interpretive communities). Indexed.
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms
2nd edition, 2001. Covers terminology in drama, versification, rhetoric, and literary history, as well as updated and extended advice on recommended further reading and a pronunciation guide to more than 200 terms.
Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory. New York: Continuum, 2002. Olin Ref PN94 C695 2002+
A "single-volume guide to the history and development of criticism in the humanities as the twenty-first century opens. While emphasizing the theory and practice of literary and cultural criticism, it provides extensive coverage of related and contextual discourses, as well as critical overviews of the work and reception of major figures responsible, directly or indirectly, for the development of those discourses in the now-related areas of philosophy, poetics, politics, aesthetics, linguistics and psychoanalysis. (Foreword) Signed articles are grouped in three sections: Critical Discourse in Europe, Theories and Practice of Criticism in North America, and Criticism, Literary and Cultural Studies in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Includes bibliographies and glossary. Indexed.
A Dictionary of Literary Symbols. Michael Ferber. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Olin Ref PN56.S9 F47x 1999+
"This is the first dictionary of symbols to be based on literature, rather than "universal" psychological archetypes, myths, or esoterica...two hundred main entries explain and illustrate common literary symbols (swan, rose, goose, moon, gold), supplying cross-references and quotations. Concentrates on English literature, but entries range from the Bible and classical authors to the 20th century, taking in American and European literatures." (from the introduction)Bibliography appended.
Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. J.A. Cuddon, ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 4th ed. Olin Ref PN 41 C83x 1998
Includes definitions of technical terms, forms, genres, groups, schools, movements, motifs, concepts, modes and other vocabulary used throughout the spectrum of literary studies.
Dictionary of Poetic Terms. Jack Myers, Don Charles Wukasch. Denton, Tex.: Univ. of North Texas Press, c2003. Olin Ref PN1042 M93 2003
Updated edition of Longman Dictionary and Handbook of Poetry. "Over 1,600 entries on the devices, techniques, history, theory, and terminology of poetry from the Classical period to the present" (book jacket)Bibliography.
Encyclopedia of Rhetoric. Thomas O. Sloane, editor. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Olin Ref PN172 E52x 2001
"This one-volume work covers...the elements, structure, principles and techniques of rhetoric in literature, communication and more specifically, public speaking. Major figures and rhetoric in non-Western cultures are covered as well." (Publisher) Includes synoptic outline of contents, bibliographies, index. Emphasis is on theoretical aspects of rhetoric.
A Handbook to Literature, William Harmon and Hugh Holman. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, c2003. 9th ed. Olin Ref PN41 H355x 2003
"Contemporary reference on literature and literary criticism in English, this handbook provides an alphabetical listing of more than 2,000 important terms and facts in literature, linguistics, rhetoric, criticism, printing, bookselling, and information technology. Covers a wide range of terms, most centered in literature, but extending into other areas, such as film, radio, TV, printing, linguistics and literary theory, music, graphic arts, classical studies, and computing and information science terms." (Publisher)
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism c1997- .
A full-text searchable database of articles on individual critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods. It also treats related persons and fields that have been shaped by or have themselves shaped literary theory and criticism. Each entry includes a selective primary and secondary bibliography. Paper edition (2005) in Olin Reference: Olin Ref PN81 J554 2005 +.
Literature Online (LION)
LION provides full-text searching of the following literary reference works. From the main screen, go to
Criticism & Reference, then click on the Reference link. Check off the titles or titles you wish to search.
The list includes:
Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story (Columbia University Press, 2001)

Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism (Columbia
University Press, 1995)

Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998)

Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English (Routledge, 1994)

Encyclopedia of the Novel (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998)

New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton University Press,
Oxford Reference Online
Searchable database of 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works of Oxford University Press.
Each topical division contains searchable versions of the latest editions of published dictionaries and encyclopedias. Among the titles included are:

Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature

Oxford Companion to English Literature

Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature

Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms
Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre

Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English

Dictionary of Writers and their Works
Quivy, Mireille. Glossaire bilingue des termes littéraires: français-anglais. Paris : Ellipses, c2004. Olin Reference PN44.5 Q58 2004
Bilingual (French/English) dictionary of literary terminology.
The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory, edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. Olin Ref PN81 .R68 2006
This book defines what is generically referred to as "critical theory," and guides readers through some of the most complex and fundamental concepts in the field, ranging from Historicism to Postmodernism, from Psychoanalytic Criticism to Race and Postcoloniality. Fully cross referenced throughout, the book encompasses manageable introductions to important ideas followed by a dictionary of terms and thinkers which students are likely to encounter. Further reading is offered to guide students to crucial primary essays and introductory chapters on each concept.

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