Resources for English Research – Literary Criticism

Image of Mark Twain from the collections at the Library of Congress.

About this Guide:

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting literary criticism research for English Courses. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide. For research assignments on a selected topic or issue, try using the guide called Resources for English Research – General Research.

What is”Literary Criticism”?

Literary criticism, or literary analysis, is the process of evaluating, interpreting and analyzing literary works (books, stories, poems) or the work of an author in general. You may be required to find literary criticism articles about the literary work or author you’re investigating.

Paper Writing Assistance:

Consult these campus resources for help with writing and editing:
About SBCC’s Writing Center
The SBCC Learning Resource Center Writing Tools online

Need more help?

Have a question? Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, text, or chat for more help.Contact Us

Finding Background Information

Reference books are a good place to begin your research or to find inspiration for an assignment. The print reference books are available in the Luria Library Reference section. The library also subscribes to some online reference sources, listed below.

Print Reference Books

  • Drama for Students – R 809.2 G153d
  • Novels for Students – R 809.3 G151n
  • Short Stories for Students – R 809.31 G151ss
  • The Oxford Companion to American Literature – R 810.3 H325o
  • American Writers – R 810.9 A512a
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography – R 810.9 M996
  • The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry – R 811.009 G779g or Access Online
  • Contemporary American Ethnic Poets: Lives, Works, Sources – Available as an eBook, Access Online

Online Reference Books

When you click to access this resource from off campus, you will be prompted to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

    Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.
    Gale Virtual Reference Library: Search by keyword to find general information on your topic. This resource also contains entire ebooks about individual authors and their work in the “literature” section.

Finding Books

The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks covering literary criticism topics. Search the library catalog (books+) for literary criticism on your author or work. Search the words “criticism” or “interpretation”, as in the sample searches below, to find information on your topic. Separate search terms with the word “and.”

    flannery oconnor and criticism
    twain and interpretation
    macbeth and criticism
    moby dick and criticism

Finding Articles

Use these library databases to search for articles that provide critique and interpretation of authors and particular works, including short stories and poetry.

    Artemis: Provides access to Literature Resource Center, Literature Criticism Online (which includes Contemporary Literary Criticism, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Short Story Criticism, and Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism), and Scribner Writers Series in a single research environment. Includes primary sources, critical articles, literary and cultural analysis, and biographies.
    JSTOR: This resource is useful for finding literary criticism. Note that journal articles in JSTOR are available in full text from the first volume up until five years ago.
    Project MUSE: This database also includes literary criticism.

Evaluating Websites

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists. Is the purpose to sell, to entertain, to inform, to teach, or to persuade? Do the authors and publishers/sponsors make their purposes clear? Is this source designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. Does it relate to your topic? Does it meet the requirements of your assignment? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information. Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong or emotional language, or leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information. Where does the information come from? Can you verify it in other sources? Are there citations or links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The source of the information. Who are the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the information? Are they experts, or has the information been reviewed by experts? Is it posted on a personal website or blog?
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? Is it up to date? Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as technology or current events), or will older sources work as well?

How to Cite

MLA citation style is most typically used when writing papers in the liberal arts or humanities. Double check with your professor about which citation style is required for your assignments.

Citation Guidelines

The following resources will help you construct MLA citations: