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English: which resources do I use?: Renaissance

Unsure which resources to use for your English module or piece of research? This guide will point you in the right direction.


A bibliography is an organised list or digital database containing a collection of references to published literature, including books, journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, etc.


You may find some of these books useful. See your reading list for the required and recommended reading for your module.


To find material from the Renaissance period (c1500-1660), try searching the resources below:

For help using these resources, see the guides on this page.

EEBO - Early English Books Online

EEBO is an excellent resource for primary research.

It contains full-texts of early printed books from the 16th and 17th centuries.

You can view the material as originally published, in order to appreciate the text in its original form and also examine similarities and differences between variant versions of the texts.

Comprehensive online help is available to help you make the most of the service.


Please note: In order to search the full document text of items in EEBO, you will need to change the drop down box next to the search box from 'Anywhere except full text' to 'Anywhere'

Starting from the EEBO Home Screen select the Advanced Search option and complete the search form.

Please note: In order to search the full document text of items in EEBO, you will need to change the drop down box next to the search box from 'Anywhere except full text' to 'Anywhere'

You can use the Look up Authors option to help you complete the search form.


The illustration below shows you how to Look for and select Shakespeare from the list

Once you have selected the author click Add to search to continue.

You can also enter your own search terms into a box without using the Look up feature.

In this example, add to your search by manually entering  richard third into the Document Title box

Click on Search once you have added all your search concepts.

You do not just have to search by author and/or title.

You could search by themes such as cunning, disguise, despair, intrigue etc. and discover how these themes appear in the literature across the database. You can add these to the keywords search box.

Please note: In order to search the full document text of items in EEBO, you will need to change the drop down box next to the search box from 'Anywhere except full text' to 'Anywhere'

Once you have run your search you will see a list of matching search results.

If you retrieve too many results you can go back and Refine your search

You can also choose the most relevant results, by using the checkboxes and adding them to your Marked List.

You have a two different view display options either Full Text PDF or Image full text.

Not all formats are available for each item - they will vary between items.

You can adjust the image size if you wish to analyse it in greater detail.

For further information on how to use EEBO, please visit the links below:

EEBO libguide

EEBO webinar tutorial (44 mins)

Sample searches - examples of searching by keyword, author, etc.

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online gives access to primary texts from writers between 1485-1901.

Browse by Work, Edition or Author.

Once you are inside the full text of a work you can:

  • Move through the play with the arrows  at the top of the page. 

  • Shrink the left-hand navigation bar by clicking the little arrow at its top, if required. 

  • Hide the notes if you prefer by unchecking the notes box on the title bar

  • Click on the note symbols at the ends of the lines to scroll the notes pane to the right place. 

The three little tabs on the left help you navigate around the work or edition.

  • The magnifying glass tab lets you search, jump to a print page, see the pdf of that original print page, or jump to a location in the text. 
  • In the Location box, enter 3.3.57 if you want to go to Act III Scene iii line 57

At the top right of the tool bar you'll find pdf and printer icons for saving or printing.  

  • If you highlight some text and choose ‘Copy and cite’ from the pop up menu, you’ll be able to automatically add a citation and the URL to the text you highlighted, so you can copy the lot: convenient for note-taking.

Run a 'Quick search' across works, titles, authors, and full text.

For example, search "to be or not to be"

You can refine your results using the options on the left hand side; for example, choose to refine where your keyword appears by checking the relevant box under 'Show Hits Within'. You can also refine by author, genre or date.

Jump to a precise location in a text, e.g. Shakespeare Sonnet 18, or Marlowe, Faustus, 12.81


ProQuest One Literature/Literature Online: search by literary period

When searching ProQuest One Literature you can refine your search by literary period.

Click on Advanced Search and choose Primary Texts on the left side of the page.

Click on Look up Literary Periods.

Either search for Renaissance or browse alphabetically and select Renaissance Period, 1500-1660 and add to search.

You can add additional keywords and author details if you like, or just click Search to see everything under this category in the database.


Defining Gender

Defining Gender is a collection of original primary source material from British archives.

  • It will aid those studying history, literature, sociology, education and cultural studies from a gendered perspective.
  • The types of documents in the collection vary from pamphlets and letters to diaries and illustrated writings.
  • Topics addressed range from anatomy, children and education to etiquette, fashion, sexuality and sport.

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