Thank you for joining in the effort to use, expand, and share OER Literature materials. We hope the following resources and ideas will help you in your own efforts to adopt or adapt OER for your courses.

We recognize that literature open courses face challenges, due to the constraints of copyright. There are ways over, under, around, and through that conundrum, as the resources below suggest.

Let’s Talk!

We invite you to share in the collaboration and wisdom-sharing of the OER community. Slack is a free, easy-to-use tool for communication and collaboration. It offers channels for group conversations on specific topics, including English. You can also send direct messages to individuals or groups. Use it from any computer or mobile device.

Two rows of a bookshelf where the spines are arranged by color


Lumen Courses

Lumen offers template courses that can serve as starting points for your own development. You can mix, match, and adapt anything from the courses below quite easily.

Additional Offerings

Beyond what’s already hosted inside the Lumen platform, many OER collections contain useful material for Literature courses. If you have suggestions to add here, please share on the Lumen Community Slack Channel.

Title Source License  Notes



Public Domain

  • audio recordings of works of literature

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg

Public Domain

  • text files of works of literature and nonfiction


University of South Florida

Special Terms of Use

  • literature MP3s and PDFs
  • supplemental instructional material
  • “A maximum of twenty-five (25) MP3 and/or text files may be used in any non-commercial, educational project (report, presentation, display, website, etc.) without special permission. The use of more than twenty-five MP3 and/or text files in a single project requires written permission from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF.”

Accessing Primary Sources

copyright symbol: lower-case c with a circle around it. A red exclamation mark appears to the right of the cMany literature courses, particularly those focusing on eras from the 1930s forward, require the study of copyrighted texts. When building an OER-based course, this obviously is a challenge. Here are some strategies to consider for getting your students access to copyrighted works:

  • identify the resources in your school’s library. Include information in the text for how students can access these materials at the time they will need them, such as a permalink to a digital version of the text.
  • determine if the text has been made available free online by the copyright holder. If so, you can put a link to that source in your textbook. Links to external resources have to be monitored and maintained, and you retain no control over their availability. Sometimes they’re the only way to access the material, however. For instance, you can provide a link to Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” on the Poetry Foundation website like this, and give your students enough information to know where they’re going when they click the link and what they’ll find there.
  • AVOID linking to materials that have been posted online by someone that is not the holder of the copyright. For instance, you might encounter a PDF that is clearly a scanned copy of a printed book that has been posted on someone’s personal website. Even though you didn’t break the law by posting that material online, you’re supporting someone else’s piracy. It is NOT considered fair use to distribute these materials in an OER course.

Content to Avoid

While theoretically “open” content, we at Lumen suggest refraining from using the following materials in your own course development. They carry particularly difficult licenses, and/or may not meet the requirements for ATD grant funding.

  • avoid using An Introduction to British Literature (text from LardBucket / Saylor)
  • avoid using British Literature Through History (text from LardBucket / Saylor)
  • avoid using Creating Literary Analysis (text from LardBucket / Saylor)

ATD Information

This section provides support for faculty and course developers involved with the Achieving the Dream OER Degree Initiative.

Currently 7 institutions have included Introduction to Literature courses in their course plans; 7 institutions have included American Literature.