Skip to main content

ENGL 319SR: The Renaissance: 'Literature and Science, 1516-1674'

Getting an Overview - Reference Works

When taking an interdisciplinary approach to a topic, you may face the challenge of needing to familiarize yourself with a field of study that's new to you.  A quick way to orient yourself is to consult reference works in that field.  These can provide a helpful overview, information about key concepts and figures, and even bibliographies for further reading. Since ENGL 319SR is an English course, the focus in this research guide is on resources that will help you familiarize yourself with topics in science and medicine. However, if your background is in the sciences, you might also check out the Background Info page of the English Research Guide for reference sources that can help you get up to speed on the study of literature.

History of Science - General

History of Science - Subject-specific

Scientific Biography

The Renaissance

Find more reference works

There are a couple of ways to find more reference works in the library collection:

  • Do an Advanced search in the Five College Library Catalog on terms that describe your topic (e.g., history science) and the terms encyclopedia or dictionary or handbook or companion.Screen shot of catalog advanced search screen.
  • In the Five College Catalog, restrict your search to just Mount Holyoke, click into the Advanced search form, enter the terms for your topic (e.g., history science) and use the Location drop down menu to select MH Reference:MH Reference search on history science

Going Deeper - Books & Articles


If you're looking for more in-depth/book-length studies of the history of science in general or of a particular branch of science, try searching the Five College Library Catalog or WorldCat.  Try a combination of keywords like 

history science


history anatomy (or the name of another specific scientific discipline)

You can narrow further to a particular time period by adding keywords like "renaissance," "early modern," or "elizabethan."

If you have a particular literary figure in mind and you'd like to find out if anyone has written about that author and how his/her work relates to science, you might also try searching on that author's name and science or a particular branch of science. For example,

shakespeare science


shakespeare astronomy


There are a few different approaches you might take to finding interdisciplinary articles that cover both science and literature. One is to search an interdisciplinary database like Discover Supersearch that covers all subject areas.  In that case, you'd want your search terms to include "science" or a specific scientific discipline or concept, the name of an author or work of literature, or a genre of literature and a specific time period (like "Elizabethan drama"). Another is to search in a subject specific database, covering either science or literature, on the topic that you might not normally think of using that subject database for. In the case of a science database, like Science Citation Index, your search terms should include a specific literary author or work, or genre of literature and the time period (e.g., "Elizabethan drama").   In the case of a literature database like MLA International Bibliography, you could simply search on "science" or a specific branch of science (e.g., "astronomy") and end up with articles that talk about science in relation to literature, but you may want to narrow by adding a specific author, work, genre or time period to your search terms.  A database like Historical Abstracts may be useful for finding additional history of science type information. For example, searching on astronomy renaissance England.

Springshare's information on Accessibility in Libguides - - MHC Accessibility Barriers Form