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Tips for Finding Literary Criticism

What is Literary Criticism?

QuestionLiterary criticism is the evaluation of literary works such as poems, short stories, novels and plays. Briefly, criticism goes beyond a summary of a literary work to discuss the merit of the work, what may have influenced the author, how the author may have influenced others, what impact it may have had and whether it has enduring value. There are many literary theories and a work may be evaluated differently depending on what school of thought the author of the critical article is using. 

Research Challenges

Literature can be challenging to research because there simply is not as much written about it as many other subjects. Here are some more things that can be challenging when researching literature:

There are Generally Fewer Articles on Contemporary Authors

It is easier to find criticism on authors from the past than on contemporary authors. They have not been around as long to study or have had sufficient if any critical articles written about them. There can be exceptions to this.

There are Generally Fewer Articles on Women and Minority Authors

Authors who are women or minorities from any era have had less written about their works, though that is changing. There just may be less available

Some Works Just Don't Have Much

There are some works about which there is not much written, even some works by the most famous authors.

Search Tips

The best place to find articles on works of literature is in our top literature databases. Here are tips that will help you get your criticism articles more quickly for Gale Literature, OneSearch and ProQuest PowerSearch. 

While each database has unique articles that the others do not, you will notice some of the same article where they overlap. Depending on your subject, you may need to use all three databases below or even more. You can go to A-Z Databases: Literary Criticism to access all our databases with criticism, but the ones below are your best bets.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Use quotes around the title of the author's work will help get you more relevant results. For example "Annabel Lee".
  • Don't forget to grab your MLA style citation from the databases for your paper! 

Tips for JSTOR

Great for finding scholarly articles with criticism. Probably has the most criticism articles of all our databases. 

  • Start by searching with the title of your work. Quotes around a title of a work can really help. 
  • You can use the Refine Results options to limit your results to the most relevant articles. 
    • Under Academic content, try Journals
    • Under Subject, try Language & Literature
    • Under Language try English 
  • Once you find an article you like you can find Related text on the article page, where you may find even more articles that you can use. Try the Navigate the Article Page in How to Use JSTOR of you aren't sure where to find it. 

Tips for ProQuest PowerSearch

Great for finding scholarly articles with criticism. You may find more recent articles here than in JSTOR. 

  • Start off your search by entering an author or specific work (with quotes around the title)  in the search box. 
  • Under Subject, choose literary criticism as subject.
  • Under Person, choose your author.
  • You can easily narrow down to academic, peer reviewed or scholarly sources if your instructor requires it by selecting Peer reviewed under the search box.
  • You can learn more about using this and other ProQuest databases in How to Use ProQuest

Tips for Gale Literature

  • Type the title of a specific work or the author in the search box. It will make auto suggestions as you type; choose the one that matches and hit enter.
  • The result list is already narrowed down to literature criticism by default. This databases does have other kinds of content like work overviews but the criticism os what you want.
  • On the right side of the screen you have options for narrowing down more by subject, author, peer reviewed and more. You can even search within the results. Usually the best options if to look under subjects or search within your result list.

Tips for OneSearch

Great for finding books and eBooks with criticism as well as articles. 

  • To get started you can do a search by entering the specific work that you are researching, with quotes around the title, like "To Kill a Mockingbird" and select everything to search. 
  • Under Subject, choose Show More, select Literary Criticism and Apply filters. 
  • If you need peer reviewed articles you can easily narrow it down to by selecting Peer-reviewed Journals under Availability.
  • Narrow down by date by entering the desired date range and selecting Refine
  • You can learn more about what you can do in OneSearch in How to Use OneSearch