Literary Theory & Book History

This page includes the following sections:

  1. Critical and cultural theory (literary theory);
  2. Book history resources.

1. Critical & Cultural Theory

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. 3rd ed. Manchester University Press, 2009. A good, basic overview with suggested further reading.

Childers, Joseph and Gary Hentzi, eds. Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism. Columbia University Press, 1995. Available through Literature Online (LION).

Habib, M. A. R., A History of Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present Blackwell, 2007.

Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. W.W. Norton, 2010. Excerpts from key critical texts from antiquity to the present.

Payne, Michael and Jessica R. Barbera, eds. A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory 2nd ed. Blackwell, 2010.

Preminger, Alex, and T. V. F. Brogan, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 3rd ed. Princeton University Press, 1993. Access via Literature Online (LION). Detailed coverage of everything to do with poetry. An advanced reference work. The new 4th edition is available in paper form in the library: Roland Greene, and Stephen Cushman, eds. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th ed. Princeton University Press, 2012.

Tyson, Lois. Using Critical Theory: How to Read and Write About Literature. Routledge, 2011.  A good introduction to critical theory.

Waugh, Patricia, ed. Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide. Oxford University Press, 2006.  An intermediate level textbook covering the major theories.


Cambridge Core includes The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism a multi-volume set covering literary criticism down to the present day. It also contains volumes on specific literary theories and theorists, e.g.

  • The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory
  • The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodernism
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and Psychoanalysis
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Edward Said

2. Book History

Beal, Peter. A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology, 1450-2000. Oxford University Press, 2008. In Oxford Reference.

Bland, Mark. A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts. Wiley Blackwell, 2010.

Holy Trinity Church (1)
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Eliot, Simon, and Jonathan Rose, eds. A Companion to the History of the Book. Blackwell, 2007.

Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall. Encyclopedia of the Book. 2nd ed. Oak Knoll Press, 1996.


Early English Books Online (EEBO). Digitised books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These are copies of the original books and have no annotations.

*English Short Title Catalogue. A catalogue of books published between 1473 and 1800. The full texts can frequently be found on EEBO (see above).

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). Digitised reproductions of books from the eighteenth century.

Cambridge Core includes:

  • The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book
  • The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (6 vols);
  • The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland (3 vols).

Early European Books traces the history of printing in Europe from its origins through to the close of the seventeenth century, offering full-colour, high-resolution facsimile images of rare and hard-to-access printed sources.

*Incunabula Short Title Catalogue. The database records nearly every item printed from movable type before 1501.

Manuscriptorium provides access to all existing digital documents in the sphere of historic book resources (manuscripts, incunabula, early printed books, maps, charters and other types of documents).