Guide to Literary Criticism Research
If you are not familiar with literary research, the three guiding principles will help you as you search for critical material on a given literary work (e.g., novel, short story, play, poem).
Otherwise, use the Search Steps to find "LitCrit" quickly and efficiently.
Three Guiding Principles
Before you even attempt to search for literary criticism, make sure you have
This preparatory work will help you identify the relevant portions of any criticism you encounter.
Most items are retrieved by searching for the author's name as a subject. Even author biographies commonly deal with literary works as an outgrowth or reflection of the author's life experience.
A note about using books: Students are usually concerned that they will have to read an entire book in order to find material on a single work, but that is rarely the case. Use the preface, table of contents, and index of a book to identify and locate the pieces of each volume really wanted or needed.
Adjust your search according to what you actually find. For example, a single poem by a well-known poet might receive very little coverage in a given periodical index. On the other hand, the author may be covered very well.
Since authors often write about recurrent themes (or even personal or artistic obsessions!), a workable strategy is to "fall back" to the "author's name as subject" position. Then, apply what you find out about the author's writing in general to that specific work.