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Literary Criticism

Welcome

This research guide will help you identify and locate resources on literary criticism and theory and offer tips on research and citing sources. Use the pages on the left to get help finding the various source types.

Remember that if you get stuck and need help, the UWF Libraries are here! Chat or email with me/us on the left below my picture, or book a virtual appointment with me.

Types of Sources

  • Reference: Reference materials provide background information on a topic, work, or author. Reference materials in literary studies may be fairly specific, e.g. The Encyclopedia of James Joyce, or they be broader and contain specific entries, e.g. 20th Century Literary Criticism with an entry inside about Toni Morrison. These are a good place to start in order to conduct thorough research because they will likely tell you the important scholars of an author/work and point you to those influential critics.
  • Books (Monographs): More broad than scholarly articles, a book by one or two authors on a particular topic can provide context to a subject. For your papers, you may find that you only need one chapter or so of a book of criticism. Books tend to be easier to digest than scholarly articles (though not always). You may find books via our library catalog (what we own), and the state libraries of Florida catalog. You may identify titles of books and book chapters in the MLA International database; WorldCat; and OneSearch. Anytime we do not own a book (check OneSearch + Catalog), you may submit a request for it via Interlibrary Loan.
  • Books (Anthologies): Many books in literary studies have chapters that are written by different authors, and the book itself will be edited by one or two people. These chapters will be invaluable to your studies, and the MLA International Bibliography does a great job of identifying them. The database JSTOR, etc, also has chapters within it. Search by book title in the catalog or OneSearch to see if we have them.
  • Scholarly Articles: Peer-reviewed scholarly articles are found via our databases and are generally really specific. They can be found in a wide range of scholarly journals (e.g. Henry James Review; PMLA Publication of the Modern Language Association). If we do not have the full-text of an article, you may make an interlibrary loan (ILL) request via the Full Text Finder. Unlike books, which can take 1-2 weeks via interlibrary loan, articles generally come in within 24-48 hours. 
  • Book Reviews: Though book reviews appear in scholarly journals and come up in your scholarly article search, they are NOT scholarly articles to use for your research. If you see something of use in them, look for the book itself. You may distinguish book reviews by their features: typically 1-3 pages at most, have citation of book listed somewhere, and the author of the book review is not the same as the author of the book.
  • Primary Sources & Historical Documents: In literary studies, the primary text is the one you are studying, e.g. Beowulf. Secondary sources would be any source about Beowulf. However, in some classes, you may need to consider primary sources from an historian's perspective. In history, these are documents from that that time period. So, you may find sources that came out around the time of the piece you are studying to provide context. There may also be reason to provide historical context of the period of the author through secondary historical sources about the time period.

Quick Search

OneSearch
Search our discovery tool that searches most of our databases and the catalog at the same time. To find more specialized resources, use the pages to the left. Remember to limit to peer-reviewed sources if your instructor requires them. (Be aware that doing so will also exclude books, which do not have that designation, and most times those are allowed.)