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Guide with various resources for literature, literary criticism, and more

Literary Criticism

What is literary criticism?

Literary criticism is a scholarly analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of a literary work. This evaluation often centers around a specific theme or themes. Literary criticism is different from a book review. Often, it takes into account the historical, political, or social contexts of the author as well as their work(s). This type of scholarship is written by other scholars in the field, usually with a particular lens or theory like gender/queer theory or new historicism. Literary criticism can be found in book form or in journals. Unlike scholarly articles in other fields, literary criticism articles do not usually contain an abstract or article summary. 

Literary Criticism or Book Review?

Literary criticism is not the same as a book review. Literary criticism may study different fields of literature, like essays or plays. Literary criticism may come in the format of a book, chapter, or scholarly journal article and is longer in length. It will not always include summaries or abstracts like other scholarly journal articles. 

Book reviews are usually short articles reviewing the book by an amateur critic, not a scholar or expert in literary studies. Book reviews are often found in magazines, but sometimes they can be found in scholarly journals! Consider the length and other characteristics of the article to confirm if you have found a review or literary criticism. 

How to Find Literary Criticism

1. Search the author or title as a keyword:

Want to find literary criticism articles, books, or book chapters? When searching library resources, try using the author's last name and the title of the work you are researching, along with any relevant keywords based on themes you want to research. If you want to search just for articles and not books or chapters, limit to peer reviewed sources, like in this example: 

Search term with keywords "Song of Solomon" AND Morrison AND family with peer reviewed checkbox seleted

2. Search the author or title as a subject:

Want to find literary criticism articles, books, or book chapters? When searching library resources, try using the author's name or title of the work in the "Subject" field:

Example: Author as subject: 

Search an author's name in the Subject Field

Example: Novel as subject: 

Try searching the title of the work you are researching in the "Subject" field.

3. Limit to scholarly/peer reviewed journals when searching for articles:

If the title of the work is a very common title or phrase, you can make your search more specific by adding another keyword related to your topic.

To ensure you are finding scholarly sources when searching for articles, use the limiters or facets to limit to scholarly/peer reviewed journals. Here are a few examples:

Peer Reviewed Box Checked in Academic Search Premier     Peer Reviewed Box Checked in ProQuest Arts and Humanities

Remember, this could still include book reviews, which are not scholarly!