Literature in English


The Yale University Library seeks to support research and teaching in English literature, American literature, and other literature in English, including both the linguistic and literary aspects of the discipline, the teaching of basic and advanced writing skills, grammar, the history of the language, and English philology, together with a detailed study of all major authors and their literary works. Support at the research level covers all periods—medieval, early-modern, and modern. Yale’s traditionally superior collections support the needs of undergraduate and graduate (Ph.D.) students, the teaching faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and researchers.

The first half of the 1990s witnessed an expanding interest in the areas of women writers, African American authors, Caribbean authors, and gay and lesbian studies. More recently new research interests and courses of study have included the topics related to transnational phenomena as literary or cultural periods and trends (Renaissance, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, Postcolonialism); genres and modes of discourse (tragedy, the novel, the sonnet, the grotesque, stream of consciousness), and the theoretical perspective exploring such topics as poetics, narratology, fictional worlds, literary semantics, representation, language and epistemology, interpretation of texts, and the history of literary theoryThe Yale collection has responded by broadening its scope to accommodate these areas.

Areas of established specialization: Writers of superior literary merit are emphasized, but in the case of American and English authors, many minor names are also included, including many of the more popular authors. Complete sets of collected works, especially definitive editions, are collected, as are most of the important periodicals and monographic series in the field. Thorough coverage of the various aspects of the English language—its history, grammar, phonetics, morphology, syntax, rhetoric, style, composition, lexicography and philology—is maintained.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

  • Department of African American Studies
  • Department of English Language and Literature
  • Department of Linguistics
  • The Literature Major
  • Media Theory and History
  • Program in Medieval Studies
  • Program of Film and Media Studies
  • Program of American Studies
  • Program of Theater Studies
  • Program of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Renaissance Studies Program
  • School of Drama

Because literature in English has cross-disciplinary implications, these collections also offer support for research and teaching in other Western European language and literature departments (e.g., French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, German) as well as area studies such as African Studies.

Formats collected


  • Academic and trade press monographs are acquired in print or electronic formats.
  • Some audio books are acquired for the Bass Library Audio Book Collection and the OverDrive collection of downloadable eBooks and audio books.
  • Graphic novels are collected for the Bass Library Graphic Novel Collection.
  • Textbooks are generally excluded unless requested by faculty.


  • Online-only subscriptions are preferred; print subscriptions are initiated or continued when an online edition is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Reference materials

  • Electronic reference materials, including indexing and abstracting databases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, are almost always preferred to their print counterparts. Print reference materials are acquired when an online version is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Audiovisual materials

  • DVDs are acquired very selectively, primarily in response to faculty demand.


  • Yale Library has extensive microform holdings supporting literature in English. However, due to the increasing conversion of microform collections to digital formats and the interlibrary loan availability of microform sets from the Center for Research Libraries, microform supporting literature in English is now acquired on demand only.

Languages collected

Materials collected are primarily in English. 

Chronological and geographical focus

Current materials are emphasized, with out of print materials purchased to replace damaged or lost copies of significant works, or in response to faculty or student requests.

In terms of time periods covered in the materials themselves, the collections run the gamut from medieval to contemporary. 

The collections are international in scope. Place of publication must be North America, Western Europe (including the British Isles), Australia, or New Zealand.

Collaborations within Yale

  • The International Collections all acquire material in literature in English published anywhere in the world pertaining to their respective regions.
  • Collaboration within HCRE (Humanities Collections and Research Education) on purchases, especially databases of wide interest to humanists including historical newspapers, pamphlets, scholarly editions, and journals.
  • Occasional collaboration with the Music Library, Divinity Library, Center for British Art, or the Law Library in purchases of or subscriptions to databases of mutual interest.
  • Bass Library

Subject Librarian

Carla Baricz
Librarian for Literature in English and Comparative Literature
Humanities Collections
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)