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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the most comprehensive dictionary of the English language. It will show you changes in meaning of words over time.
Want to get a sense of how a particular work has been received?
Want a quality overview of literary themes or movements, or background information on a historical event?
Below are some suggested resources for quality background information. These aren't databases for finding sources to use and cite in your research paper. Instead they are useful for quickly building up your knowledge on an author, work, or theme/motif, and giving you a sense of the standard or typical interpretation of works. (You're not likely to find any really original or revisionist interpretations in these databases.)