The JSTOR Understanding series (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, the Understanding series 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.

The Understanding series 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.

The Understanding series 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. If you experience any problems with the site or have feedback, we encourage you to contact us at