• Nearly all the primary texts are in English, with only a very small proportion in other languages.
  • Secondary materials are almost all in Modern English.
  • French-Canadian material is the responsibility of the Department of French.
  • English translations of important works by foreign authors are collected, especially from languages of which there are no departments at McMaster.
To provide the materials necessary to support the undergraduate and graduate course instruction programs, the graduate thesis research program, and the research activities of the Faculty. For this purpose the Department is building comprehensive research collections in most areas of study.

To support the work of the Association of Eighteenth-Century Studies, which is largely dependent upon the fine collection which the department has built up in the Rare Books Room in the Research Collections Division.

To make English literature available as a recreational resource for the University community to the extent that funding permits.

Great Britain is the principal source of material, with the United States second and Canada third. The Commonwealth, other English-speaking countries, and Western Europe also supply primary and secondary material.

None for reprints and microforms, but normally the Library does not purchase original materials published before 1600.

  • Monograph books, ranging from those currently published to those published in the seventeenth century. Many are obtained in reprint and in microform.
  • Periodicals, including little magazines, in the same range.
  • Manuscripts, especially of Canadian poetry.
  • Recordings and tapes are presently acquired both through the library and through the English Department.
  • Facsimiles.
  • Pamphlets, ephemera, posters, broadsides, and "non-book" materials are acquired usually only as part of our Modern Canadian Poetry Collection.
  • Video tapes as selected for specific class instruction; housed in AV-Services.

The long 18th century (c.1650-1800), Russell and the 20th century, and Cultural Studies have been declared Faculty of Humanities priority areas for resource allocation. 

Old and Middle English (B)

      The Department has a strong tradition of Faculty research in this area and will continue to build this collection.


English Literature, 1475-1660 (A)

  • Considerable Faculty and graduate research is being done in the poetry, prose, and drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We purchase all current publications in this area and own Early English Books (Pollard and Redgrave; Wing) on microfilm.
  • We have probably the finest collection in Canada of the works of James Shirley, and an excellent selection of eighteenth and nineteenth century editions of Shakespeare and other eighteenth-century Shakespeareana.


English Literature, the Restoration and Eighteenth Century 1660-1800 (A)

  • This is a major area of specialization for the English Department, one of the greatest strengths of the Library, and, through the Association for Eighteenth-Century Studies, one of the University's major interests. Much Faculty and doctoral research is being done in this area, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction is produced in the Department. The University offers the McMaster ASECS Fellowship in Eighteenth-Century Studies.
  • All currently published works dealing with this period are collected, including reprints and microforms. Back files of periodicals dealing with the period are acquired as they become available.
  • The Division of Archives and Research Collections already contains more than 30,000 eighteenth-century volumes, and the English Department devotes perhaps 30% of its library budget to further development. We have strength in Restoration political and religious tracts, drama, and poetry; and especially in the works of Milton, Dryden, Congreve, Farquhar, and Etherege. Present strengths in Eighteenth Century literature include voyages and travels, literary periodicals, poetry, biography, fiction and the works of Boswell, Cibber, Defoe, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, Johnson, Pope, Sterne, and Swift. Addison, Arbuthnot, and Garrick are being developed into strengths, as well as poets of the late eighteenth-century. Many minor collections are being developed or maintained. The University and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies together sponsor two fellowships annually for scholars to use this excellent collection.
  • Material is often acquired as background for literary studies by the English Department. To some extent, this overlaps the collection policy of the Department of History, particularly in the Hanoverian period.


English Literature, the Nineteenth Century (B)

      The aim of the English Department is to maintain a good working collection of modern editions and criticism to support graduate work. Except for the works of particular authors currently being studied at the graduate level, only a representative sample of original novels and plays is collected. The Dickens collection, however, which is already suitable for Master's level work, is currently being developed to greater strength, the George Eliot collection is very strong, and the works of Leigh Hunt and Charles Kingsley are actively acquired.


Twentieth Century British and Irish Literature (A)

  • All current literary criticism is collected, along with a generous selection of modern novels, poetry and drama to support the increasing Faculty and graduate research in this area.
  • Strong research collections exist, or are being developed, in Anglo-Irish Literature, especially Synge, Joyce, George Russell, O'Casey, Wilde, and Yeats; in First World War literature; and in the works of Vera Brittain and of Samuel Beckett, Edmund Blunden, Anthony Burgess, E.M. Forster, Robert Graves, D.H. Lawrence, Iris Murdoch, Siegfried Sassoon, and H.G. Wells.


American Literature (C)

  • Much graduate and Faculty research is being done on modern American literature, including women and minority writers.
  • Research Collections are being developed in Henry James and Ezra Pound.
  • All current monographs and a large selection of new works in fiction and poetry are acquired.


Canadian Literature (A)

  • The Department has a growing specialization in this field, supported by substantial research collections. A great deal of current graduate work is on modern Canadian literature.
  • We attempt to acquire all current Canadian literary publications in English.
  • We are attempting to make our collection of Modern English Canadian Poetry comprehensive back to 1920 in periodicals and monographs, including not only small-press material, but also posters and other non-book material. We consider for purchase all manuscripts and correspondence in this area which come on the market. At present we have strengths in such material by Nelson Ball, John Robert Colombo, John Coulter, Douglas Fetherling, Red Lane, David McFadden, Jane Shen, and Jack Winter. We have a very strong monograph and periodical collection of Irving Layton, although almost no manuscripts.
  • Retrospective buying in other areas generally does not aim at completeness, but rather as support for current graduate and undergraduate programs. However, there are strengths in John Wilson Bengough, Pierre Berton, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, Susan Musgrave, Peter Newman, Marshall Saunders and Peter Such.
  • We are currently building up an audio archive of Canadian literature, politics, and history. The Library contains a considerable number of CBC radio and television scripts which are of value as a resource for the study of Canadian drama.
  • Archives and Research Collections has strong collections of Canadian publishers. These include McClelland and Stewart, the Macmillan Company of Canada, and Clarke, Irwin.
  • The Department of French has a strong program in French-Canadian literature, and there is close coordination between the collection programs of the two Departments.


Critical Theory (B)

      We collect most journals and monographs on contemporary critical theory. Faculty include practitioners of all schools of criticism, and many graduate students adopt new critical approaches in their research.


World Literature in English (B)

      We have maintained an undergraduate collection in English for many years. Recently, however, post-colonial literature has become an area of specialization at the graduate level and we now subscribe to most journals and purchase monographs in this area.


Translations into English (D)

  • We maintain a collection of all major works, both current and retrospective, and all works of major writers. Much of this will have already been acquired by the various foreign language departments, but the English Department, as part of its program to provide good literature as a recreational resource, has assumed a responsibility in this area.
  • All translations from French-Canadian into English- Canadian are acquired, as are all translations done by Canadians into English from other languages.


Film Criticism (C)

      Books and periodicals in English, French, and German on the art and the appreciation of film, screenplays, and relevant biography are now collected under the auspices of School of Arts: Drama rather than the Department of English as was formerly the case. There is a good collection in this area, but little material is acquired on the technical aspects of film-making.


Linguistics (C)

  • Continued growth in this area is planned, in coordination with programs in the Departments of Modern Languages, French, Classics, Anthropology, Psychology, and Philosophy. Each of the language departments collects works on its own language, and the Philosophy Department collects works on the philosophy of language and linguistic analysis. The English Department acquires most major works and most expensive works. The Anthropology Department collects works on linguistics in all languages not covered by the language departments.
  • Collection-building is to support English Department faculty research rather than the English Department teaching program specifically, but a strong collection in this area is necessary as a general support of that program.


Cultural Studies (B)

      For Globalization and the Human Condition Strategic area.

Arts and Social Sciences