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Literary Criticism (literary analysis)

You can find literary criticism in books, journal articles, and online. Some of the more scholarly literary criticism can be found in print form, so we will start with books. Online sources will be listed farther down this page. Although some of this information might answer some questions for those people who want book reviews, this web page is devoted to finding what is considered literary criticism. Technically, book reviews are different than literary criticism.

Thompson Gale is a company that publishes a series of books that contains literary criticism on many works of literature. The format for each series is similar. There is an index in the back of the books that will list authors of literary works. The index will tell you which volume and page number for finding the criticism. Usually, these expensive books can be found in the Reference section of academic and major public libraries.

Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC) covers authors living now or who died after December 31, 1999.

Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism (TCLC) covers authors who died from 1900 and 1999.

Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism (NCLC) presents literary criticism of authors who died between 1800 and 1899.

Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800 (LC) gives literary criticism of authors who died between 1400 and 1799.

World Literature Criticism, 1500 to the Present (WLC) and World Literature Criticism Supplement (WLCS) covers major authors from the Renaissance to the present.

Shakespearean Criticism.

Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism (CMLC) features coverage of authors who died before 1400.

Children's Literature Review (CLR) gives criticism of works written by authors of books for children and young adults.

Drama Criticism (DC) critiques dramatists.

Poetry Criticism (PC) contains literary analysis of a variety of poets.

Short Story Criticism (SSC) covers analysis of short stories written by many writers.

Harlem Renaissance.

The Beat Generation.

Feminism in Literature.

Gothic Literature.

Asian American Literature (AAL) gives criticism of Asian-American writers of the last two hundred years.

Black Literature Criticism (BLC) and Black Literature Criticism Supplement (BLCS) covers black writers of the past two hundred years.

Hispanic Literature Criticism (HLC) and Hispanic Literature Criticism Supplement (HLCS) covers Hispanic writers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Native North American Literature (NNAL) presents literary analysis of Native North American writers and orators of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.


Harold Bloom has authored quite a few different series of books giving literary criticism on many literary works and the authors of those works. Over the decades, different series of books have been published such as: Bloom's Guides, Bloom's Modern Critical Views, Bloom's Major Literary Characters, and Bloom's Notes. These books appeal to a wide variety of interests. The books are written so that high school students can understand the information, but yet the material is scholarly enough to help students seeking an advanced college degree. If your local library does not have these books and they can not interlibrary loan them, you can purchase these books at Amazon.com. Here is an example of a search strategy that you can use in the keyword search box that Amazon presents. Use different KEY WORDS in the "Keywords" search box.

Type Harold Bloom and then the author of the literary work or the title of the book.

For example: Harold Bloom and Jane Austen

For example: Harold Bloom Persuasion.


The MLA International Bibliography "provides a subject index for books and articles published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics." For decades, academic libraries subscribed to this multivolume paper index. The paper version was tricky to use, but the index would lead you to literary criticism. A large variety of articles covered all kinds of literature written over the centuries, throughout the world. Most of the information is very scholarly. Over the years, like most paper indexes/articles, this paper edition was converted to electronic form. Many academic libraries have access to the computerized MLA International Bibliography.


JSTOR is another fee-based database that will allow access to very scholarly journal and book literature. Usually, academic libraries will subscribe to this service. To give you a good idea of what this collection is all about, here is an excerpt from JSTOR's website: "With participation and support from the international scholarly community, JSTOR has created a high-quality, interdisciplinary archive of scholarship, is actively preserving over one thousand academic journals in both digital and print formats, and continues to greatly expand access to scholarly works and other materials needed for research and teaching globally." Now, is that scholarly or what? If you need scholarly literary criticism, then JSTOR is another option.


Cliffs Notes: Now we are talking. It seems like most people know about Cliffs Notes. If you are not familiar with Cliffs Notes, then let me tell you about them. Some scholarly teachers would consider it almost a crime for me to be writing about Cliffs Notes so close to mentioning The MLA International Bibliography and JSTOR, listed above. Where the MLA index and JSTOR are regarded as extremely scholarly resources, on the opposite end, many teachers consider looking at Cliffs Notes, in order to figure out a particular literary work, as cheating. That is NOT our view and that is NOT a whole lot of other students' views, either. Cliff Notes have been around since 1958. Each Cliff Notes book on a subject is a short (about 70 pages), very good literary analysis. The book covers it all: character analysis, plot summary, plot analysis, and all kinds of stuff. These are great little books. We see that the company has made it easy for you to access the book, FOR FREE, on their website. If you need to purchase the book, they allow you to download the book in PDF format. The company has branched out to publish books to help with math, chemistry, and other subjects. Oh yes...Cliffs Notes...the mere mention of this source brings back good memories of College Composition I and II. Okay, maybe not that good of memories. Seriously though, if you are looking for help with literary analysis, then take a look at these books. There are more tips and tricks at this site that may interest you. It may be worth your while to explore the links on the Cliffs Notes site.

The main site is http://www.cliffsnotes.com/

The web page that allows you to read Cliffs Notes for FREE OR purchase the book is http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature-study-guides.html

IF you cannot find what you want at Cliffs Notes, Amazon has a LARGE collection of Cliffs Notes.


SparkNotes have been around a while and provides literary analysis of literary works. The analysis is similar to what can be found in Cliffs Notes. Basically if you cannot find what you want at Cliffs Notes, then you can try SparkNotes at http://www.sparknotes.com/ . You can access the information free of charge.


iPl2 is the new name of the merger of the Internet Public Library and the Librarians Internet Index. ipl2 has a Literary Criticism menu that will lead you to sources of information about authors. Depending on your subject, this site can be helpful or NOT very helpful at all. It just depends on your subject, the type of information that you need, and how much information that you need. Here are two links that will take you to different pages of ipl2 that will lead you to biographical and literary criticism about authors and their works:

Online Literary Criticism Collection:

http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/bin/litcrit.browse.pl?au=AB

Literary Criticism at http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/


Finding Literary Criticism in Magazine and Journal Articles

There are companies, such as OCLC FirstSearch, Gale's InfoTrac, Proquest, and EBSCO, that have paid publishers so that the publishers' periodical articles can be placed on computers. These computers are computerized indexes that help lead you to journal, magazine, and newspaper articles on all kinds of subjects. When you have to find something specific, like literary criticism articles about a specific author or the author's specific book, then these fee-based computerized indexes ARE THE WAY TO GO. It makes things much easier. Most libraries will have access to some of these computerized databases. However, the computerized databases are expensive, so not all libraries can subscribe to these indexes.

For example, OCLC is the company that produces a number of computerized indexes under the name of FirstSearch. FirstSearch's Humanities Index and Wilson Select Plus Index are two computerized indexes (databases) that contain articles from journals in print form, such as English Studies in Literature, English Studies, The Review of English Studies, Victorian Studies, The Explicator, and more. For more information on these very valuable databases and how they are used to find periodicals, please contact your local library. Hopefully, they have access to some of these "periodical indexes."


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