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English at Oxford - an overview  

Last Updated: May 21, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Sue Usher (English Subject Librarian)
tel: +44 (0)1865 271051


Classes and workshops

English Faculty Library information skills training programme
Information on current training available for those studying English at Oxford is available on the EFL website

WISER Humanities
These practical workshops are designed to help you find your way around the key resources offered by the Library Services. The workshops are free and usually take place at OUCS. Book online via the IT Services Course website.

WISER timetable for this term

Making the most of the Bodleian
All sessions are general ones, providing a practical introduction to the Bodleian within the context of the Bodleian Libraries, with hands-on guidance in the use of SOLO, the automated stack request system, and OxLIP+. Undergraduates and visiting students do not need to attend these sessions, as their timetabled library inductions (even if not held at the Bodleian) will cover the same skills and knowledge.
Making the most of the Bodleian


    Related links


    Collection overview

    Oxford's collections in English Language and Literature, from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to post-colonial literatures in English, are exceptionally rich and diverse. Primary and secondary source material continues to be collected as broadly as possible in all periods.


    Principal collections

    The main collections can be found in the Bodleian Library (mostly supporting research), the English Faculty Library (mostly in support of teaching), and via OxLIP+, the gateway to Oxford's electronic resources.

    Despite his low opinion of books in the vernacular and the "friuolitie" of literature in particular, Sir Thomas Bodley's agreement with the Stationers' Company in 1610, allowing the Bodleian Library to claim a copy of every publication in the UK and Ireland through legal deposit, meant that the Library's holdings of printed works of English literature have in fact become one of its greatest strengths. Major bequests and purchases have added to the scope of the collections, which are strong in children's books, philology and linguistics, the published literature of the nineteenth-century, and literary manuscripts (e.g. Shelley, Tolkien).

    Manuscripts and archival material may be read in the Special Collections Reading Room; primary texts, core journals and bibliographies can be found in the Upper Reading Room in the Old Bodleian; and the Upper Camera Reading Room in the Radcliffe Camera holds mainly critical works geared to the undergraduate syllabus.

    The English Faculty Library has a lending collection of over 100,000 volumes (largely duplicating the Bodleian's holdings) covering all periods, as well as providing easy access to extensive holdings in areas such as American literature, bibliography and the history ofthe book, critical theory, film and linguistics.

    The Library also purchases material relating to its special collections (the Wilfred Owen Archive and Old Icelandic in particular) and audio-visual collections (spoken poetry, Shakespeare).


    Associated collections

    American Studies (Vere Harmsworth)
    History of Art (e.g. Pre-Raphaelites) (Sackler)
    South Asian Literature in English (Oriental Institute Library)

    Oxford's college libraries contain important and unique collections of English literature. The best source of information on these, in addition to the colleges' own websites, is probably still Paul Morgan's Oxford Libraries Outside the Bodleian : a Guide (2nded., Oxford, 1980).


    Important eResources

    All Oxford's libraries provide access to a wide range of networked electronic resources via OxLIP+ .

    For English these include:

    • reference works and catalogues such as the English Short Title Catalogue, the OED, DNB, and the Location Register of Twentieth Century English Literary Manuscripts and Letters;
    • primary source material and full-text collections such as Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Literature Online, Past Masters, and the TLS Centenary Archive;
    • bibliographical databases such as the Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature, the Arts & Humanities Index, the International Medieval Bibliography, the MLA, and Periodicals Contents Index;
    • electronic journals, many available in full-text. Oxford University e-Journals, Oxford's electronic journal management system, provides a complete list.
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