Definition of Literary Criticism:
What does it mean to think critically about an issue? What does it mean to think critically about literature?
Literary criticism looks at a work of literature and analyzes it, evaluates it, attempts to interpret it, and looks at a work or body of work in detail
. This should not be confused with a review, which usually provides a simple description of the book and an evaluation to help you decide whether to read something or not. Criticism can be found in some review sources, but the information the back of a book is not the same as criticism.
Sometimes, it is helpful to look at historical influences on your topic. For instance, it may be useful for you to understand that during the early 1800s, when the Brontes and Austen were writing, women could not inherit property, as it was usually entailed to a male relative. This would have effected the issues that arise in the books and may seem foreign to a 21st century American student! Additionally, political, scientific, ethical, or other social issues may pervade your book and a deeper understanding of these topics will allow you to make a better analysis of your reading.BE SURE TO CITE ALL SOURCES!SOURCES FOR BOOK REVIEWS (which may help you determine if something is worth being read - does not equal criticism!):www.amazon.com
(Books from 1996) – some detailed enough to be criticism.SOURCES FOR LITERARY CRITICISM and AUTHOR INFO in the Library Media Center
OPAC: look up books by typing the author’s LAST NAME and selecting SUBJECT
Most will be located in 800s (literature) or in B (for biography). Look for Criticism and Interpretation in the subject.
Browse the REFERENCE stacks in the 800s for books like Novels for Students, Great American Writers, Scribner Writers Series, Beacham’s Popular Fiction, Masterplots, Literature and Its Times, Short Story Writers, Poetry for Students, etc.
SUBSCRIPTION DATABASES - Sign in to the library page (upper right corner) to get a link for the passwords to the following databases)
- MagillOnLiterature Plus
- Gale Virtual Reference Library (Includes Novels for Students vols. 20-27, Poetry for Students vols. 21-27, Short Stories for Students vols. 20-25 under Literary Ctiticism,)
- Twayne's Author Series
Student Resources in Context
Gale Encyclopedia of American Literature in Context
Gale Encyclopedia of World Literature in Context
SIRS Renaissance (under SIRS Knowledge Source)
You can also search google.com or yahoo.com or another search engine for the name of your book or author. Add on literary criticism or reading guide or review to get more information. Put author name in quotation marks to further limit your search. You can also search by title of work.