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English Pathfinder: Literary Criticism
- What is literary criticism?
- What isn't literary criticism?
- Why engage in literary criticism?
- Types of literary criticism
- Where to find literary criticism
- Guides to literary critics
Literary criticism is the comparison, analysis, interpretation,
and/or evaluation of works of literature. Various reference works
describe literary criticism as such:
“ The act or process of evaluating the merit of a text.” --Dictionary of Concepts in Literary Criticism and Theory
“Asks what literature is, what it does, and what is it worth.” -- Encyclopedia Brittanica
Usually, a literary analysis will involve a discussion of a text as writing. It may discuss how components of a work relate to each other, how two works relate to one another, or how concepts in a text relate to larger contexts.
Literary criticism is essentially an opinion, supported by evidence, relating to:
--historical, political context
It usually includes discussion of the work’s content and integrates your ideas with other insights gained from research.
Literary criticism may have a positive or a negative bias and may be a study of an individual piece of literature or an author’s body of work.
Although criticism may include some of the following elements in order to support an idea, literary criticism is NOT:
-- a plot summary
-- an author's biography
-- simple finding of fault with the literature
Literary criticism is a specialized type of secondary source. Other types of secondary sources will put the work of literature in context: social, political, historical, religious, etc.
Researching, reading, and writing works of literary criticism will help you to:
-- make better sense of the work
-- form judgments about literature
-- study ideas from different points of view
-- determine on an individual level whether a literary work is worth reading
Examples of some types of literary criticism are:
For more information on types of literary criticism, consult the following resources:
Dictionary of Concepts in Literary Criticism and Theory
REF PN41. H36 1992
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism
REF PN81. J554 2005
A Dictionary of Critical Theory
REF PN98. S6 O77 1991
When serching for literary criticism, it may help to use “criticism” as a subject term along with title of work or author.
Black Literature Criticism (BLC)
REF PS153 .N5 B556 1992
Literature Criticism from 1400 - 1800
REF PN701. L58
International Bibliography (Modern Language Association)
The premier scholarly index for literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.
and General Literature Index
Indexes chapters and essays contained in books of collected works.
Covers journal articles in the humanities, archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, history, journalism and communications, linguistics, literature, music, performing arts, and religion.
and Social Sciences Retrospective
A bibliographic database that cites articles from English-language periodicals. Coverage includes a wide range of interdisciplinary fields covered in a broad array of humanities and social sciences journals.
Gale's Literary Index is a master index to the major literature products published by Gale, including Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Literary Critisicm, and Poetry Criticism.
Literature Criticism Online
This index includes Contemporary Literary Criticism, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, as well as Drama Criticism, Poetry Criticism, Shakespearean Criticism, and Short Story Criticism. These series represent a range of modern and historical views on authors and their works across regions, eras and genres.
American Literary Critics and Scholars, 1880-1900
REF PN523 .D5 1988
Modern American Critics Since 1955
REF PN523 .D5 1988