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John Milton Studies: Reference

This LibGuide provides an overview of library and information resources dedicated to Milton Studies.

Reference Resources

On this page, you will find the references resources  most suitable for your research on John Milton.

Simply decide which resource meets your needs. Below the list, the tabbed box for each resource walks you through each of the resources, how they work, and what you should do when you locate an item of interest.

For a more comprehensive list of Early Modern British Literature Resources, please visit the Early Modern Research Guide. For all other databases associated with English Literature, please visit A-Z Databases: English

Recommended Language and Cultural Dictionaries (in print and online)

Other Reference Sources

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find present-day meanings in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

The OED started life more than 150 years ago. Today, the dictionary is in the process of its first major revision. Updates revise and extend the OED at regular intervals, each time subtly adjusting our image of the English language. 

The OED inlcudes: 

  • OED Labs – Our goal is to further develop the OED’s offering to actively support the needs of academic research as they evolve in the coming years. Take a look at new ways to access OED data, including the OED Researcher API and the OED Text Visualizer.
  • Video guides: Take a look at our short guides to help you get the most out of your OED access.
  • Interactive graphic: Whether by sudden invention or unhurried evolution, words come into the English language in all manner of ways. The Oxford English Dictionary’s mission is to record all of these word stories, capturing their development as they continue to unfold.

Search the OED

To look up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, simply type the work into the "Quick Search" bar.



To perform and more comprehensive search, do an advanced search, which you can access by clicking the link of the same name. Here, you can search specifically by subject, language of origin, region, part of speech, usage, and date of entry. You can also search using quotations and definitions. 


When you search for a word, you'll see one of two pages. If the word has multiple usages, like a noun or a verb, the OED will direct you to choose which one you're specifically looking for. After that, you'll see a page that looks similar to this: 

OED Result

The OED will tell you everything you want to know, from the origin of the word, its etymology, and its meanings and uses throughout history. 

Oxford Bibliographies

Oxford Bibliographies

Oxford Bibliographies provides faculty and students alike with a seamless pathway to the most accurate and reliable resources for a variety of academic topics. Written and reviewed by academic experts, every article in our database is an authoritative guide to the current scholarship, containing original commentary and annotations.

View a complete list of available and forthcoming subject areas.

Offering a rapidly expanding range of subject areas and ongoing enhancements, Oxford Bibliographies is reaching more scholars and students than ever before, increasing productivity, saving time, and elevating the quality of research.

More information about the update program and new user-driven enhancements.

Search Oxford Bibliographies

Enter your keyword or phrase in the search bar to find bibliographies related to your learning and research needs

Oxford Bibliographies Search

Alternatively, you can browse bibliographies by subject.

After you have performed your search, you will discover a list of results. Browse the results to determine which bibliography most closely aligns with your needs.

Oxford Bibliographies Results

Once you have found a bibliography that works for you, click on the appropriate link.



Now that we have selected an appropriate bibliography, let's study it for useful information. Each bibliography provides  a scholarly summation of the topic, as well as key primary and secondary sources. Be sure to read through the entire entry to discover sources and information that is relevant to your research and learning needs.

Oxford Bibliography Result

Oxford Digital Reference Shelf

Oxford Digital Reference Shelf

Oxford Reference is the premier online reference product, spanning 25 different subject areas, bringing together 2 million digitized entries across Oxford University Press’s DictionariesCompanions and Encyclopedias.

As you browse through Oxford Reference, you may find results that range from short-entry, general reference to more in-depth articles on specialized subjects. See below for more information on the services and collections available through this resource.

In-depth, specialized titles from Oxford University Press’s award-winning Encyclopedias and Companions, and a selection of partner publishers’ scholarly works.

  • New titles and editions are added throughout the year, as they publish in print
  • Title-by-title purchasing allows institutions to build and customize their collections with the subjects they need
  • Includes some of Oxford University Press’s most visited titles including The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition and the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 4th edition

Search Oxford Digital Reference Shelf

Search ODR

You can search for a wide variety of reference material in the Oxford Digital Reference Shelf. In this instance, I elected to search for material related to "Postcolonial Literature." Simply type your keywords or phrase into the search box to gain access to reference material that is related to your research or learning needs.

Searching for "Postcolonial Literature" produces a number of results and included an alternative spelling that we might use for future searches.

ODR Results

Evaluate your results and determine which entry or entries is right for you. Also, be sure to look at the facets on the left hand side to revise your results if necessary. Once you have identified a source that appeals to your needs, click on the link associated with it and begin reading.

Now that we have selected an entry of interest, we have the opportunity to learn more about that particular topic. ODR Result

I selected the entry on "Postcolonial Literature" as published in The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. This is a trustworthy and scholarly source for gaining more information about my topic. The entry provides a robust introduction to my topic and informs me of related sources and resources that will be of use to me as I continue to study postcolonial literature. 
Oxford Digital Reference Shelf is a profound resource that can help you to explore a variety of topics, while providing you with expert analysis and research assistance.

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism is an indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. Compiled by 275 specialists from around the world, the Guide presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field's most important figures, schools, and movements and is updated annually. It includes more than 300 alphabetically arranged entries and subentries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.

Search The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

Are you looking for information about a particular theorist or literary theory? To perform a basic search, simply type in the search term in the search bar. As you can see, we can search the Guide to discover information about "Critical Race Theory."

Hopkins Guide Search

This search will populate a list of results:

Theory Results

Evaluate your results to see which of them best matches your inquiry.

Advanced Search

The Johns Hopkins Guide for Literary Theory and Criticism does not offer a robust "Advanced Search" option. However, it does offer you the ability to perform a search through the entire document, text only, or bibliography.

Advanced Search

Now that you have entered a search, examine your results to see what items most closely match your research and learning needs.

Hopkins Analyze Results

Review the results that your search populated to determine those that best fit your research or learning needs. 

Get What You Need

Now that we have a list of results, it's time to analyze them and determine which articles or other forms of scholarship best match our research needs. After finding an article that appears to correspond with your research question, click on the link to the open the record for the particular article. In this instance, let's select the entry titled "Race and Ethnicity."

Hopkins Analyze Result

This entry provides you with an introduction to the topic. As you evaluate it, you will discover that it lists additional key terms and includes an extensive bibliography related to the entry's topic. This valuable information can help you to find more information related to your research and learning needs.

JH Analyze Results

If you find any of the sources listed in the bibliography to be useful, remember to use the library catalog to search for them. In this case, let's search for Franz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks.

Black Skin White Masks


Now, we can check out this book to learn more about our research topic or complete our learning objective.