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COM 1102 - Writing About Literature

Searching for Literary Criticism

In COM 1102, at least part of your research will focus on literary criticism. Literary criticism takes an analytical look at a particular aspects of a literary work including theme, symbolism, or genre. The tips below will help you locate literary criticism articles in the databases recommended on the Articles and Databases page on this Guide.


  • JSTOR Search tip: Using the advanced search option, search the name of the work along with the author's name to find literary criticism. Alternately, try the name of the work and the keywords "critcism". Searching with JSTOR might take some trial and error. Remember you can expand the results by selecting "All Content" and opening results to both full-text articles and citations. Also remember, you can request the full-text of an article using the InterLibrary Loan service!
  • Literature Resource Center is a searchable electronic database of criticism, biographical information, bibliographies, and full-text works of popular authors throughout history. This is the best place to start. It is recommended to search for the author first, then narrow down results by the name of the work. Begin by searching for the author's name using a "Person Search". Locate biographies on the author from the search results. Then use the "Name of Work" filter on the results list to narrow literature criticism results to the work you are writing about.
  • Blooms Literature Search tips: Find biography and literature criticism by searching for the author's name. The search results are broken down by type of resource. Results even include character breakdowns, topic and theme overviews, and more. To browse Bloom's Literature's collection of videos, including full-length dramatic performances of literary works, select "videos" from the "Browse Resources" menu on the home page.
  • ProQuest Search tip: Using the "advanced" search, use the keyword "literary criticism" searched in the subject field AND the selected author's last name searched in the person field. For historical information, try selecting the history subject and search for the author's name or use a keyword for the time period.
  • Ulrichsweb isn't for finding articles. You can use this tool to verify if a journal is peer-reviewed. Search Ulrich's for the title of a journal. If the journal is peer-reviewed, it will have an icon that appears as a referee's shirt (black and white stripes), which indicates that the journal is refereed (in other words, peer-reviewed).  


Can't find enough information on your topic?


If you have found a useful article or two, use the bibliographies from those articles to help you find other sources that might be relevant to your topic.

Databases containing Critical Essays

The databases below are devoted to literature, literature criticism, and the humanities. Use these databases to find author biographies and critical essays of their works.

The Literary Canon

What is the Literary Canon? 

The Canon is a list of authors that many universities have adopted as appropriate and necessary for a well-rounded education in the humanities. According to the Bedford Introduction to Literature, this is a list of works "which collectively constitutes the "masterpieces" of literature." While the canon has many standard authors, defining it is difficult. In recent years, many have argued successfully for the inclusion of more women and minority authors. Here are some websites with more information. They are included here for informational purposes only--not necessarily as authoritative sources.