English-Language Literatures & Theater Collection Policy


subject description and guidelines

  • The collection encompasses: (1) fiction, poetry, drama, graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and other forms of belles lettres originating in the English-speaking world; (2) critical, theoretical, and historical writing on English-language literature; (3) general literary theory and criticism; (4) scholarship on the history of the English language; (6) scholarly writing on general folklore and that of the Anglophone countries; (7) biographies of canonical English-language literary figures; and (7) works on the art and craft of theatrical performance; and (8) scholarly work on the English-language popular press and mass media.


  • The collection is intended to support the teaching and research needs of undergraduates, graduate students, academic staff, and faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, with particular consideration for the departments of English; Performing and Media Arts; and Comparative Literature, as well as several related interdisciplinary programs, specifically: American Studies; Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies; the Institute for Comparative Modernities; Medieval Studies; and the Society for the Humanities.


collection strength

  • Canonical English literature of the U.K. and the U.S and its attendant scholarship are represented at research level, with notable collection strengths in the literature of Great Britain during the Medieval and 18th century periods. Literatures of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other Commonwealth nations are now collected at study level (supporting instruction and basic research), though they had been acquired at research level in the past. Particular notice is given to acquiring work by and about African-American, Latino, American Indian, and LGBT authors, as well as to English-language writing by indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand. To support Cornell's strong Creative Writing Program, contemporary American, British, and Irish fiction, poetry, and drama are given close attention, as are experimental texts published by independent American small presses and journals showcasing contemporary creative work. While literary fiction is of primary concern, traditional genres of popular fiction such as mystery and science fiction are represented at study level. Romance, western, techno-thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction are collected at basic or minimal levels. The acquisition of contemporary graphic novels and reprints of major works in the genre has increased in recent years, but the existing collection is at a basic level overall since comic books and comics compilations were not actively acquired in the past and are not widely used in the curriculum at this time.

geographical guidelines

  • Geographical focus includes countries where English is the predominant spoken and written language, including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and most Commonwealth countries. English-language literature of the South Asian diaspora in the U.K, United States, and Commonwealth countries is acquired by the Curator of the South Asia Collection in Kroch Library.

areas of significant geographic coverage

subnational region

  • Wales 

country (self-governing)

  • Australia 
  • Canada 
  • Great Britain 
  • Ireland 
  • New Zealand 
  • Scotland 
  • United States of America 

language guidelines

  • Primary texts are mostly in English, but our holdings of secondary works include all major European languages. In recent years we have added fewer non-English language critical works on English literature than in the past, although the acquisition of general literary criticism and theory in French, Italian, German, Spanish, and comparative literatures continues at research level. A generous endowment enables the acquisition of many Irish language works of literature as well as writing about the Irish language itself. We also acquire some primary source literary material in Welsh and Gaelic.


  • English 

chronological guidelines

  • The collection spans English-language works of literature from the Medieval through contemporary periods.


  • Generally excluded publication formats include textbooks (if designated as such by the publisher); broadsides and chapbooks (with rare exceptions); individual issues of comic books; publications in non-European languages; self-published or vanity press books (unless the author has a direct connection with Cornell); and non-Cornell theses and dissertations (with rare exceptions).

material types

  • Newly acquired material may be in either physical (book, serial, microform, CD-ROM) or virtual (e-journal, database) format. Audiovisual material (DVD, VHS, CD-ROM) includes stage performances, readings of poetry and fiction, documentaries relevant to the study of English-language literature and theater. Audio books are acquired only by special request for academic purposes. For new serial subscriptions the default mode is electronic access only (if available) unless physical issues present visual content better suited for research or the physical format is specifically requested by faculty and graduate students.


housed in

  • Carl A. Kroch Library 
  • Library Annex 
  • Olin Library 

special collections or noteworthy resources in the field

  • Effort is made to support collection strengths present in the Division of Rare and Manuscripts Collection, specifically, materials related to the study of William Wordsworth, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, A.R. Ammons, and writers represented in the Human Sexuality collection,


academic department

  • Comparative Literature (COM L) 
  • English (ENGL) 
  • Performing and Media Arts (PMA) 

academic unit

  • American Studies Program 
  • Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS) 
  • Medieval Studies (MEDVL) 
  • Society for the Humanities 


library contact

  • Muratori, Fred -  Bibliographer for English-language Literature, Theater, and Film