Widener University now subscribes to the wonderful online resource The Literary Encyclopedia. On campus, the link works automatically. Students and faculty can set up a free account with their Widener email for access off campus (do that here).

Please use this resource (cite responsibly) or just browse it for fun. It is a good alternative to Wikipedia or other even less reliable sites because the articles are signed and are written by scholars and college instructors. Professor Robinson has written a number of entries–check out his insanely long entries on “Kubla Khan” and “Christabel.” And Widener alumna Samantha Przybylowicz has compiled the timeline for Keats.

Here’s more information.

A Unique Digital Environment

The Literary Encyclopedia is a reference work written by scholars and university teachers around the world. It is also a unique digital environment designed to integrate current knowledge of literature and culture and facilitate the understanding of historical contexts and connections.

Scope, Contents and Use in Teaching

Entries in The Literary Encyclopedia are divided into three databases, People, Works and Topics & Events. All articles are aimed at a “higher introductory” level for university / college reading – neither too long nor too short; neither too simple nor too complex. We offer very good coverage of English, American, Canadian, German and Russian literatures as well as substantial and increasing coverage of French, Italian, Japanese, Classical Greek, Latin, Hispanic and East European. (Other major literatures to be added as resources permit.) So far we have published about 6357 completed articles, with a total of about 13.05 million words. We are currently adding around 40 articles to the Encyclopedia every month.

  • People – includes basic data on over 6878 people (2751 with full profiles), mainly writers, but also philosophers, scientists, artists, historical figures and others of note.
  • Works – includes over 30773 works (2985 completed), mainly literary, but also historical, philosophical and scientific, which are indexed by date, genre and country. A large part of these are listed for bibliographical purposes, while others will be profiled as the Encyclopedia expands and develops.
  • Topics & Events – lists 16481 historical and literary events, for which it provides 10885 short notes (comprising major acts of parliament, wars, battles, epidemic diseases scientific and technological inventions, cultural shifts, concepts etc.) and 621 major essays on literary, critical, philosophical and historical concepts, themes and events.

We are adding profiles as fast as they can be written, but as these are authored by scholars of standing in their fields you will appreciate that such quality can only be achieved with patience. Icons indicate in each search-results screen if an entry is complete or incomplete. Even where entries have not yet been completed, each ‘stub’ (open title) is richly stocked with metadata so that it can be searched in simple and advanced ways – for country, gender, genre, date, etc., or for finding an author’s or text’s contemporaries. They may also contain listed bibliographies and recommended websites, as well as indications of related content on the site.

The Literary Encyclopedia also includes the following resources:

  • contextual Timelines displaying works in relation to historical events.
  • detailed Individual chronologies for selected writers which reveal the cultural milieu of each author and allow one writer’s life to be compared with up to two others. Each chronology comprises 200-400 biographical events, day-by-day, month-by-month. These are shown within the context of historical events happening in the same period of time as that of the author’s life.
  • guidance on the most important Secondary reading. We currently list over 16716 titles of recommended critical bibliography, which can be found (where available) at the foot of the article as well as in the right information panel. We work on expanding this section of our database considerably in the future, aiming to reach at least 20,000 such recommendations by the end of 2012.
  • Links – over 3236 selected links to quality resources on the Internet.
  • Reference groups and related articles which provide wiki-style clusters useful for particular courses (for instance, “African American Drama”; “Children’s Literature”; “Dystopian and Apocalyptic Fiction”), or simply join together articles which are related in theme, content and subject-matter.