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English Literature Studies: Literary Criticism

A guide to English literature and literary criticism.

Getting Started

Literary Criticism is the term for writing that studies, evaluates, discusses, and interprets works of literature. Criticism may also indicate a theoretical approach to interpreting the work, such as new criticism, deconstruction, new historicism, queer theory, reader response or structuralism.

Researching literary criticism may require finding information on a specific theory, in which case encyclopedias or dictionaries of literary terms may be helpful starting points. For a literary critique of a work, scholarly articles and book chapters are more appropriate than general web sources. Try searching databases and the library catalog using keywords such as the name of the theory or the name of a literary work.

Databases for Literary Criticism

Reference Books

Selected Literary Criticism reference books available on the first floor of Jerome Library.

Selected journals for literature & criticism

English Language Notes
PMLA
Modern Language Review
English Language Notes
PMLA
Modern Language Review
Covers special topics in literary and cultural studies, particularly interdisciplinary work. Full text of English Language Notes is available online. Also in print at Jerome Library.
A core title in literature, publishing scholarly essays on language and literature. Full text of PMLA is available online. Also in print at Jerome Library.
Scholarship on European and Latin American languages, literatures and cultures. Full text of Modern Language Review is available online in JSTOR (1905-present).
Nineteenth Century Literature
Review of Contemporary Fiction
Speculum
Nineteenth Century Literature
Review of Contemporary Fiction
Speculum
Critical essays on unconventional and overlooked writers of contemporary fiction. Full text for Review of Contemporary Fiction is available in EBSCO. Also in print at Jerome Library.
A journal of medieval studies publishing scholarly research on all aspects of the Middle Ages. Full text for Speculum is available online.

Do You Know Masterplots?

The Masterplots Series contain concise plot synopses, critical commentary, character profiles, literary settings and biographical profiles. Masterplots articles provide referential information about sources, and discussion of significant aspects of the work’s artistry and history. A  bibliography provides annotated citations to the best English-language sources for further research about the book.

Shorter than Cliff Notes, Masterplots are an excellent starting point to refresh one’s memory about a previously read book or a life of a previously studied author, and the guide for students needing to review a term’s worth of literary study.

Reference E-books

Selected Websites

Subject Guide

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Laura Sheets