May 21, 2022

Classic Literature: JSTOR Labs Introduces a New Research Tool Named “Understanding Great Works”

The Understanding Great Works research tool from JSTOR was announced earlier today.

From an Introductory Blog Post:

Understanding Great Works (Beta) is a free research tool from JSTOR Labs that fosters student engagement with classic literature by connecting passages in primary texts with journal articles and book chapters on JSTOR that cite those lines.


Building on the success of the Understanding Shakespeare tool, Understanding Great Works encompasses several key works of British literature such as Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice, the King James Bible, as well as all Shakespeare sonnets and plays. These initial texts have been selected in collaboration with Studies in English Literature and JSTOR Labs plans to add new ones monthly; we invite you to vote for the texts you’d like to see next.

Understanding Great Works is a powerful starting point for research within the primary source; the tool makes it easy to find academic analysis for literary texts and encourages close reading. The literary texts are open access on JSTOR, but an institutional or individual access account may be required to view the full text of the linked journal articles and book chapters.

Understanding Great Works is integrated on the JSTOR platform and easily accessible from the “Tools” menu on the top of each page. The tool is being released in a beta status, which indicates that the tool is publicly available but we are actively testing and updating the features.

A companion LibGuide is also available.


Direct to Understanding Great Works (Beta)

Direct to Understanding Great Works: How to Use and FAQ

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.