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American Literature: Books

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Theses & Dissertations

Search the library catalog for BYU theses and dissertations.

Finding Standard Editions of Literary Works

Suggestions for finding the standard editions of literary works:

  • Search for the author in Dictionary of Literary Biography and review the list of works under "Writings by the Author" - Print Humanities Reference PN 451 .A6 or Electronically via Literature Resource Center (LRC). 

  • Look for information about the author in Oxford Companion to xxx Literature. Sometimes the entries will indicate the "standard" or "definitive" edtions/versions of authors' works.  Call numbers for The Oxford Companions can be found by searching in the library catalog.

  • Consult bibliographies devoted to the author - Catalog search tip: Perform a keyword search combining the word "bibliography" or "guide" with the author's name. Or try a subject alphabetic search on the author's name (last name first), and browse the resulting list for the subheading "Bibliography."
  • Find concordances devoted to an author - Catalog search tip: Perform a keyword search in the library catalog combining "concordance" or" wordlist" with author's name: ex. concordance$ and borges. Or try a subject alphabetic search on the author's name, and browse the resulting list for the subheading "Concordances."  $ is truncation symbol for library catalog to retrieve both" concordance" and "concordances."
  • Consult bibliographies of scholarly books/articles or look for scholarly reviews.
  • Consult historical reviews and critical essays of the author's works.
  • Consult with researcher(s) familiar with the scholarship (your professor perhaps).
  • For contemporary authors, most likely the 1st edition will be considered the standard edition.
  • Often a "Complete Works" edition will be considered the standard edtion of an author's writings.

A "Standard Edition" is" an authoritative edition of the works of a prominent writer, frequently in one volume and continuing year after year as the basic textbook.  Some of these editions also remain definitive: established as the text closest to the author's original product and most inclusive in canon, through exhaustive textual collation and historical research, not yet superseded by subsequent discoveries." (from The Harper Handbook to Literature, 2nd edition, 1997)

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