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There are many handbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias that provide basic information for literary studies. The following sources can give you a quick overview or summary of a topic.
The Greenwood encyclopedia of multiethnic American literature
Reference PS153.M56 G74 2005
Contains biographies of authors, critics, literary characters, and historical figures, and plot summaries of major works
A guide to the intellectual traditions of literary theory that includes articles on individual critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.
Provides biographical and bibliographical information and references on more than 120,000 U.S. and international authors