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What's Included in the Encyclopedia
  • Access to over 15 million words in reference and critical material
  • Coverage of world literatures: British, American, Canadian, Classics, German, French, Italian, postcolonial and more
  • Selective, reliable and authoritative material, commissioned and refereed by specialist subject editors
  • Continually updated material; indexed and searchable in EBSCO
  • Integrated digital resources: recommended critical reading lists, author life-chronologies, related article clusters, personal and institutional bookshelves
  • Mobile and tablet integration for a seamless browsing experience


  • We are delighted to launch the second edition of The Literary Encyclopedia Book Prizes for major scholarly contributions to the understanding of literature. Two prizes of £2000 each will be awarded, one for scholarly contributions to our understanding of literature originally in the English language, the other for scholarly contributions to our understanding of literature originally in another language.
  • The LE is are also resuming its Research Travel Award Programme suspended in 2021 on account of Covid19-related restrictions.
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Featured Bookshelf

American post-1945 poetry

A list of postwar American poets whose profiles we have covered in the LE.

Quotation of the Day

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. [...] It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use... The primary excusatory function of ideology ... is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe.

Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless

Black Power

Black Power Featured Article

Part of our contextual historical section, the essay looks at the militant political ethos which emerged from the African-American civil rights movement during the latter half of the 1960s and which thereafter came to encapsulate an array of political groups, ideological standpoints and cultural movements. The article sheds light and comments on their complex interconnection, leading to a finer understanding of present political struggles such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and similar militant movements for human rights and social justice.


Bloomsbury Group

Bloomsbury Group Featured Article

The article offers a critical overview of one of the most influential literary and cultural groups in British literary history, both in terms of its impact on wider twentieth-century thought and artistry, and as a collective of eclectic but largely like-minded intellectual figures, which, “while generally liberal, agnostic and feminist (especially in the writings of Virginia Woolf), in creative accomplishment … exhibited a range of allegiances and talent, innovative and reactionary”. It offers essential intellectual context to the developments of Modernism in Britain and elsewhere.

Irish Gothic

Irish Gothic Featured Article

The article proposes an in-depth look at what its author sees as a pervasive mode of writing in Irish literature, particularly in contexts in which the tools of literary realism fall short of adequately representing the historical and psychic wounds of colonialism. It links religious issues specific to Ireland, particularly the divide between Catholics and Protestants, to the conflictive historical context that has produced this cleavage and led to the discourse of “othering”, repulsion and desire specific to the genre. The essay is theoretically sophisticated and discusses a wide range of critical perspectives on Gothic tropes, motifs and themes, as well as the discursive impulses behind their widespread use in Irish literature.

Renaissance Humanism

Renaissance Humanism Featured Article

The essay is ambitious in scope and coverage, seeking to offer a comprehensive survey of a wide range of intellectual, artistic, literary and educational movements that have, from the 14th to the 17th centuries, radically changed the face of European society. While its main focus is on the major figures of the Italian Renaissance, who have pioneered the movement, it also looks at their influence on wider European thought, particularly in their development of a largely secular philosophy and ethics which stood in stark contrast with the continuing power and influence of the Catholic church on most aspects of social and intellectual life.

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