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John M. Kelly Library

Research Guide to German Literature

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This research guide is maintained by Richard Carter. It was last updated August 2011.

Brief Reference

Encyclopedia of German Literature

Edited by Matthias Konzett. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000. 2 volumes
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT41 .E53 2000]
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT41 .E53]
Comprehensive articles covering authors, works, movement, and periods of German literature and related subjects. Entries are accompanied by brief bibliographies. Includes general and title indexes.

The Oxford Companion to German Literature

By Henry and Mary Garland. 3rd edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
[Robarts Reference - PT 41 .G3]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT41 .G37 (1976 edition)]
The Oxford Companion provides brief information on the literature of all German-speaking countries written between the 700s and 1990s. The alphabetically arranged entries cover authors, their writings, historical and cultural background, movements, and literary terminology.

Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon: biographisch-bibliographisches Handbuch

By Wilhelm Kosch. 3rd edition. Bern: Francke, 1966. 27 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT41 .D49]
An exhaustive lexicon covering literature and writers from all German-speaking countries and regions. Articles provide bibliographic information as well as small bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.

Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft : Neubearbeitung des Reallexikons der deutschen Literaturgeschichte (Encyclopedia of German Literary Science)

By Harald Fricke, Klaus Grubmller, and Jan-Dirk Mller. Edited by Klaus Weimar. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1997-2003. 3 volumes.
[St. Michael's 1st Floor Reference PT41 .R43 1997 Bd. 1-Bd. 3]
This Encyclopedia is the standard work on German language and literature. With entries on genres (e.g. poetry), methodology (e.g. hermeneutics) and literary theory (e.g. narrative perspective), the Reallexikon covers both etymology and subject matter, as well as providing lengthy bibliographies after each article.

A Companion to German Literature

By Eda Sagarra and Peter Skrine. Oxford: Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1997.
[Robarts Library 13th Floor Stacks - PT236 .S55]
The articles in this companion look at individuals and topics from all German-speaking regions of Europe. They range from brief biographical sketches to in-depth analyses of subjects related to German literature. Includes index and maps.

A Companion to Twentieth-Century German Literature

By R. Furness and M. Humble. 2nd edition. London; New York: Routledge, 1997.
[Available online for UofT use.]
[Print Version: St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT401 .C65]
Brief bio-bibliographic articles on authors from the eastern and western parts of Germany as well as Austria and Switzerland. No index.

Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture

Edited by John Sandford. London; New York: Routledge, 1999.
[Available online for UofT use.]
[Print Version: St. Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - DD290.26 .E53]
Sandford's encyclopedia is useful to researchers not only because of its extensive articles on contemporary German authors and literature, but because of its coverage the issues, politics, and policies that influence German writers and their writings. The focus is on Germany, but subjects related to Austria and Switzerland are also studied. Includes bibliographical references and index.

The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature

Edited by F. Eigler and S. Kord. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1997.
[Robarts Library 13th Floor Stacks - PT41 .F46]
A feminist perspective on the major figures, titles, techniques, and movements of German literature. The brief bibliographies following the articles and the extensive use of cross references makes it easy to expand on topic and find related materials. Includes index.

Literaturlexikon: Autoren und Werke deutscher Sprache

Edited by Walther Killy. München: Bertelsmann, 1988-1993. 15 volumes.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT41 .L5]
A multivolume dictionary of German-language writers and literary works. The first twelve volumes look at authors and their writings, while volumes 13 and 14 focus on terminology, periods, generes, etc. Includes bibliographies.

Kindlers Literatur Lexikon

By W. von Einsiedel and G. Woerner. Zürich: Kindler, 1965-1972. 7 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PN41 .K53]
An encyclopedia on world literature with excellent coverage of German writers and writings. Entries discuss authors and including brief histories of the works, plot summaries, and bibliographies. Vol. 7 provides overview essays on national literatures. Includes bibliographies.

German Studies Web: Literature Resources

[Available online for free.]
This gateway provides reviews of German literary resources on the Internet such as scholarly websites, electronic journals, online text collections, catalogues, and finding aids. The majority of the resources listed are in German. An excellent starting point for researchers.

Germanistik im Internet

[Available online for free.]
A well-organized directory of German language and literature links from the German studies department of the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. It is organized by category such as institutions, literary periods, digital texts, and literature archives. German only.

Introductory Criticism

Literature Criticism Online.

[Available online for UofT use.]
This series provides detailed critical essaysoften by well-known criticson a wide range of authors and works. Along with in-depth critical essays on an author's work, the entries provide biographical facts, lists of major works, and related sources. Usually, the essays give a substantial overview of a writer's work. The database consists of more than 250 volumes compiled over the past 30 years. Using this online version, you can search individual series titles (e.g. Contemporary Literature Criticism) all together, in a selected combination, or individually. You can also search by author, title, keyword, for full-text. The online version is a scan of the print copy. You can find articles on a wide range of German authors, including Goethe, Heinrich von Kleist, Margaret Ebner, Rainer Maria Rilke, Christa Wolf, and Georg Trakl.

Histories and Chronologies

The Cambridge History of German Literature

Edited by H. Watanabe-O'Kelly. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
[Robarts Library 13th Floor Stacks - PT91 .C36]
Essays on the authors, genres, schools, and social background of German literary history up to 1990. The focus is on Germany, but Austrian and Swiss literature are also examined. Articles end in brief bibliographies. Includes index.

A Concise History of German Literature to 1900

Edited by Kim Vivian. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1992.
[Robarts Library 13th Floor Stacks - PT91 .C66]
The articles, which are authored by noted experts in the field, examine the history of German literature from the Middle Ages to the 1800s. Each chapter provides further readings (mainly in English). Extensive bibliography and an author/title/subject index.

Geschichte der deutschen Literatur von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart

Stuttgart: Reclam, 1966. 2 volumes.
[St Michael's - PT85 .G47]
A detailed history of German literature from a variety of analytical viewpoints. Includes bibliographies and indexes.

Die Geschichte Des Christentums: Religion, Politik, Kultur

By Jean-Marie Mayeur et al. Freiburg: Herder, 2007. 3 volumes.
[St. Michael's 3rd Floor BR145.3 .H582 2007 v. 1-3]
This introductory German work on the Middle Ages attempts to show how mediaeval people lived, and to get closer to understanding what they thought, believed, and hoped. The book includes extensive references.

Daten Deutscher Dichtung: Chronologischer Abriss der Deutschen Literaturgeschichte

By H.A. Frenzel. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1962.
[St Michael's PT103 .F72]
A chronological survey of German literature providing historical, biographical, and critical information. Entries are arranged by period, and then alphabetically by author.


Literature Resource Centre

Gale Group, 2003.
[Available online for UofT use only.]
Probably this source is the most detailed and convenient biography database available for literature students. You can search by author on the main page or try other searches by clicking "literary-historical timeline" beneath the search bar. Choosing the second option should bring up a horizontal menu offering a title search, a keyword search and an "encyclopedia of literature". The database organizes entries into biography, criticism and "additional resources". Contemporary Authors covers fiction writers, poets, dramatists, non-fiction writers, journalists, editors, screenwriters, television scriptwriters and other authors.

Biography Resource Centre

Gale Group, 2003-
[Available online for UofT use only.]
Similar to Gale’s Literature Resource Centre, and just as good, this database is a great starting place for literary biography. While some of the entries overlap with the Literature Resource Centre, many do not, so looking at both resources is worthwhile.

Twentieth Century German Literature

Edited by A. Closs and others. London: Cresset, 1969.
[St Michael's - PT91 .I5 v. 4]
Historical, biographical, bibliographic, and critical information on 20th-century German authors and literature.

Dictionary of Literary Biography

Detroit : Gale Research, 1978-1994.
This series is an excellent first stop for a student investigating Germany's literary greats and its less well-known writers. Each entry provides a biography and discusses the historical context of the author's writings. Each volume has a cumulative index.
Vol. 56:German Fiction Writers, 1914-1945
[Pratt Reference - PT772 .G39]
Vol. 66:German Fiction Writers, 1885-1913
[Pratt Reference - PT771 .G47]
Vol. 69:Contemporary German Fiction Writers. First Series
[Pratt Reference - PT772 .C59]
Vol. 75:Contemporary German Fiction Writers. Second Series
[Pratt Reference - PT772 .C593]
Vol. 90:German Writers in the Age of Goethe, 1789-1832
[Pratt Reference - BT311 .G47]
Vol. 118: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1889-1918
[Pratt Reference - PT666 .T86]
Vol. 124:Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1919-1992
[Pratt Reference - PT666 .T87]
Vol. 129: Nineteenth-Century German Writers, 1841-1900
[Pratt Reference - PT341 .N56]
Vol. 148: German Writers and Works of the Early Middle Ages, 800-1170
[Pratt Reference - PT183 .G4] das Literaturportal

[Available online for free.]
An excellent starting point for anyone researching contemporary German litearture, OLLi is a searchable collection of 500 links to resources such as e-texts, literary societies, authors' homepages, literary projects, libraries, etc. Links are briefly annotated and rated by their usefulness. Available only in German.

Autorenlexikon der Gegenwart

By Karl August Kutzbach. Bonn: Bouvier, 1950-.
[St Michael's - PT41 .K8]
A bio-bibliographic dictionary with approximately a thousand entries on 20th- century German writers. While dated, the Neues Handbuch remains useful because it not only lets users look up an author by name, but also by the form of writing, region, philosophical outlook, etc.

Metzler Autoren Lexikon: Deutschsprachige Dichter und Schriftsteller vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart

By B. Lutz. 2nd edition. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 1994.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT155 .M48]
This indexed biographical dictionary provides detailed articles on German authors. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte

By Paul Merker and Wolfgang Stammler. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1955-1988. 5 volumes.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT41 .R4]
The articles in this dictionary of German literature focus on genres, literary periods, national and regional literatures, and general terminology. Extensive bibliographies.

Deutsche Dichter des 17. Jahrhunderts: ihr Leben und Werk

By Harald Steinhagen and Benno von Wiese. Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1984.
[St Michael's - PT273 .D48]
Deutsche Dichter des 17 provides detailed articles and bibliographies on selected 17th-century German poets and writers. Includes a detailed timeline and index.

Deutsche Dichter des 18. Jahrhunderts: ihr Leben und Werk

By Benno von Wiese. Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1977.
[St Michael's - PT287 .D4]
Lengthy articles and bibliographies of primary and secondary sources on 18th-century German authors. Includes index and timeline at the end of the volume.

Deutsche Dichter des 19 Jahrhunderts: ihr Leben und Werk

By Benno von Wiese. Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1969.
[St Micheal's - PT343 .W5]
Detailed essays on selected 19th-century German authors. Includes further readings and index.

Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur

By Heinz Ludwig Arnold. München: Edition Text + Kritik, 1999-
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT41 .K7]
Biographical and bibliographic information on 20th-century German and Swiss-German authors. Also available as a CDROM at Robarts Reference.

Autorenlexikon deutschsprachiger Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts

Edited by Manfred Brauneck. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT41 .A9]
An author dictionary providing over 1,000 entries on writers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Each entry provides a biographical sketch, criticism of the writer's work, and a listing of the author's writings. There is also a general bibliography of criticism arranged by topic.

Lexikon deutschsprachiger Schriftsteller von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart

By Günter Albrecht and others. Hildesheim: Olms, 1992-1999. 2 volumes.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PT41 .A42]
A bio-bibliographic sourcebook with about 1,400 entries on writers from German-speaking countries. The first volume covers writers from Medieval times to the close of the 19th century. The second covers the 20th century and gives good coverage of East German writers. Includes bibliography.


Introduction to Library Research in German Studies: Language, Literature, and Civilization

By L.L. Richardson. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - Z2221 .R53]
Richardson lists specialized and general reference sources useful to the English-language student researching German literature. While dated, the volume offers research strategies that are still relevant for doing literature searches on the electronic sources listed below. A glossary of library terms is provided. Indexed.

Informationshandbuch deutsche Literaturwissenschaft

By Hansjürgen Blinn. 3rd edition. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1994.
[UTL at Downsview Z6514 .C97 B5]
The Informationshandbuch is a comprehensive research tool for German literature and related topics. It lists relevant research resources as well as archives and special collections in the field. It offers advice and search strategies aimed at the novice researcher. Includes author/title index

Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

Frankfurt am Main: V. Klostermann, 1945-
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - PT41 .B5]
A bibliography providing references to books, pamphlets, articles, reports, bibliographies, and biographies on German literature. Articles are arranged by subject, then by literary period. Includes author/subject indexes. This series continues the Bibliographie der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft (Robarts Reference Z 2231 .B54).

Bibliographisches handbuch des Deutschen schrifttums

By Josef Körner. 3rd edition. Bern: Francke, 1966.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PT41 .K67]
This volume covers German literature from the middle ages to 1948, including both primary and secondary literature. The table of contents is found at the rear of the book, after the author and subject indexes.

Literary Terms and Theory

A Glossary of German Literary Terms

Edited by E.W. Herd and A. Obermayer. 2nd revised and enlarged edition. Dunedin: Dept. of German, University of Otago, 1992.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PN44.5 .G56]
A dictionary of German terms used in literature and literary criticism. Includes bibliographical references.

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

Edited by M. Groden and M. Kreiswirth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
[Available online for UofT use.]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PN81 .J54 2004]
This encyclopedia provides articles and bibliographies on theorists, movements, and literary theory of specific countries. German criticism is covered from the mid-1700s to the reunification of the Germanies in 1990.

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms

I.R. Makaryk, general editor and compiler. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - PN81 .E63 1993]
This single-volume encyclopedia offers scholarly essays analyzing approaches to literary criticism, scholars, and terminology. German literature is not the focus of this books, but there are several articles relevant to the topic (e.g., the "Frankfurt School"). Thorough cross-referencing lets readers quickly find connections between literary theories and theorists. Most entries end with a brief bibliography. Includes index.

Finding Journal Articles

To find articles in scholarly journals, the best place to go is an article database. To find articles related to your subject area, go to and under the Subjects A-Z tab scroll down to your subject area—i.e. German Studies—and click GO. You’ll find a list of online databases containing relevant articles, as well as other online resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and research guides.

Besides finding articles, these databases also round up book reviews, book chapters, dissertations and even book titles. In most cases, you can limit your search to articles if that is all you want. How do I find articles?

MLA International Bibliography.

[Available online (1963-) for UofT use.]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - PN22 .A3]
The MLA International Bibliography provides citations to articles, books and some dissertations on literature and related topics published in the major European languages (including German) since 1963. It is the best source for identifying current and retrospective scholarship on German literature, literary theory, criticism, and literary history. For pre-1963 sources, see the print version.

Humanities Abstracts.

[Available online (1984-) for UofT use.]
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - AI3 .H85]
All of the articles in this index come from over 400 English-language journals related to the humanities. As a result, its coverage of European scholarship on German literature is only adequate, but it remains a helpful resource for researchers who cannot read German. The online version covers materials published 1984 to the present. Humanities Index, the print equivelent to Humanities Abstracts, offers coverage as far back as 1974.


[Available online (1984-) for UofT use.]
A multilingual index with over 700,000 records to journal articles, books, conference papers, and reports on humanities and social science topics. Coverage of German literature and criticism is strong, but the majority of the sources on this topic are in languages other than English.

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

[Available online for free.]
Germany's national union catalogue provides 6.5 million records of monographs,periodicals, dissertations, and electronic publications that were published in Germany, written in the German language, or about Germany. An excellent source for identifying German-language materials on German literature, criticism, literary history, etc.

The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies

Cambridge: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1931-.
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Area - PB1 .Y45]
This source provides detailed bibliographic essays that survey and critique scholarly research on languages and literature. It can provide the researcher with an overview of the state of research in a particular subject area. For information on German literature, see the "German Studies" section.


Tübingen: M. Niemeyer, 1960-
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - Z2235 .A2G4]
An international bibliography providing detailed reviews of books, journal articles, and chapters in books that discuss German literature and philology. Entries are arranged by subject, then chronologically by period. Includes a very helpful index of names and authors.