Getting Context: Overviews

Consult the resources listed below to help you become more familiar with the contexts surrounding stories passed down through Celtic literary traditions. These are provided in addition to materials placed on Library Reserves for your course in HOLLIS(List may not include streaming films. Be sure to check Canvas!)

The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature (edited by Gerard Carruthers & Liam McIlvanney, 2012)
Covers works from the pre-medieval period to the post-devolution present in Scots, Gaelic, and English and contains essays by prominent scholars that explain key periods and movements, genres, and major authors.

The Cambridge History of Welsh Literature (edited by Geraint Evans & Helen Fulton, 2019)
Provides a comprehensive chronological guide to fifteen centuries of Welsh literature and Welsh writing in English against a backdrop of key historical and political events in Britain.

The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (edited by Robert Welch, 2000)
Includes entries on the history and the genres of literature produced in Ireland from the fourth century C.E. to the present, as well as entries for major Irish authors and works. The resource provides socio-historical context for these works and places them in relationship to each other.

A Guide to Welsh Literature (edited by A.O.H. Jarman & Gwilym Rees Hughes, 1992 - 2003, 7 volumes)
A survey of Welsh literature from the oldest extant writings to the works of present day.

Mabinogion, by Catherine McKenna (in Oxford Bibliographies: British and Irish Literature, edited by Andrew Hadfield, 2017)
A highly useful article by your professor that can help you filter through the proliferation of information sources about the Mabinogion and focus on material that is reliable and directly relevant to the course.


Consult the resources listed below to help you become more familiar with animals as perceived through scientific and cultural lenses, including human-animal relations and the ways that cultures have woven an understanding of animals into their storytelling traditions. These are provided in addition to materials placed on Library Reserves for your course in HOLLIS(List may not include streaming films. Be sure to check Canvas!)

Animal Studies Bibliography, Michigan State University, 200X – present
An ongoing project of Michigan State University’s interdisciplinary Animal Studies Program, this comprehensive, up-to date resource is divided into numerous categories that transcend traditional academic divisions. The following entries are particularly pertinent: a) Animals in Literature, Art and Popular Culture, b) Animals in Religion, Myth and Folk Tales, and c) Animals as Symbols.

Anthrozoology, by Molly Mullin & Dafna Shir-Vertesh (in Oxford Bibliographies: Anthropology, edited by John L. Jackson, Jr., 2021)
This bibliographic article can help you identify some of the best publications investigating the nature of human-animal relationships in cultures across the globe.

Biodiversity Heritage Library
The world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives, including all the books in Charles Darwin’s library and much, much more. Harvard's Botany Libraries, Museum of Comparative Zoology, and Ernst Mayr Library are contributing members. Among others, you may be interested in their collections, such as their collection of Curious and Bizarre Creatures, including monsters, mermaids, hydra, dinosaurs, and more.

Oxford Reference Online
Contains dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press. It is a fully-indexed, cross-searchable database of these reference books. A broad subject range of titles from the Oxford Companions Series is available, as well as the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. For example, in includes Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, among many other potentially relevant reference works.

Sacred and Mythological Animals: A Worldwide Taxonomy (by Yowann Byghan, 2020)
Draws upon religious texts and myths to explore the different ways that sacred traditions incorporate animal images, themes, and associations into rituals, ceremonies, texts, myths, literature, and folklore from across the world. Sections are organized by the main animal classifications such as mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and insects. Within each section, each chapter covers one significant grouping such as dogs, cats, and horses. Each chapter first describes the animal scientifically and details the general mythological attributes. Then the chapter provides numerous examples, citing the text or myth. A final section provides additional coverage of references to animal hybrids, animal monsters, and mythical animals. An appendix about "animals in the sky" covers stars, constellations and Zodiac symbols named after animals. Another appendix lists and describes basic details of the religions and mythologies covered in the book. A glossary defines uncommon religious terms and offers explanations of scientific animal names.

Speaking Animals in Ancient Literature (edited by Hedwig Schmalzgruber, 2020)
Review: In the literature of Graeco-Roman antiquity, speaking animals are most prominent in fables, but in fact they are a genre-crossing phenomenon. Ancient traditions of animal speech continue to have an effect on European literature up to the present day and at the same time have parallels in other early civilizations like Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. In the 21 contributions of this interdisciplinary conference volume, international researchers from the fields of Classical Philology, Ancient History, Egyptology, Ancient Oriental Studies, Theology and Jewish Studies explore animal speech in ancient texts from the very beginnings to late antiquity, including their reception. Contexts relating to literary, intellectual, cultural and social history are considered as well as concepts of animality and humanity, building a bridge to the more recently established Human-Animal Studies.