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Finding Literary Criticism
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[Library Databases]
[Other Online Resources]
[Literature Resource Center]

Basic Background and Books in the Library

In doing research about a literary author or title you will be looking for more than a book review or summary information. Scholarly or academic writings about authors and their works are not found in popular magazines, general internet websites, or ready-reference sources. You will need to delve deeper if you want good quality critical materials.
Most libraries, including our own, have some books which contain essays about a variety of literary works. Such series as Twentieth Century Interpretations, Twayne's author series, Bloom's series, and others have collections of critical essays about individual authors and their works. There are also reference series such as European Writers (REF 809 EUR), American Writers (REF 810.9 AME) and British Writers (REF 820.9 BRI) from Scribner and the Wilson authors series, e.g. World Authors (REF 809 WOR), Twentieth Century Authors (REF 809.04 TWE), British Authors of the Nineteenth Century (REF 820.90091 BRI 1936), etc.
Salem Press produces many series about authors and their works. There is an index to the entire series, Magill Index to Literature (REF 809.0016 MAG 2001) and the entire series is available online through one the library's subscription databases. See below under Library Databases.
To find books about an author in the library's catalog enter the author's last name, e.g. "TWAIN" into the search window and select "Subject."
To find books about a particular literary work look under the author's name followed by the title of the work, e.g. SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM, 1564-1616. ROMEO AND JULIET. (It's not necessary to use capital letters when searching the catalog).

For more obscure authors and titles you will need to do further searching and the best places to look are the online subscription databases which you have access to through libraries, both school and public.

Library Databases

EBSCO's Student Research Center provides access to some literary journals but a much better resource is the Advance Placement Source which can be accessed through the Student Research Center. AP Source indexes sixteen literary journals which are available in full-text.
ProQuest Learning: Literature is another very rich database which provides information specifically about literature. Click on the database link and then on Criticism link once in the database and enter search terms to find articles.
These databases require a user ID and password which can be obtained by clicking here.


Questia, an online library "with a broad selection of scholary complete books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and jouranl articles" is a terrific online collection to use. The Redwood High School Library has a school-wide subscription to Questia. To set up an individual account type in rhs[studentID] as the user name and [studentID]rhs as the password. Once you've set up an account you can change the username and password. The website provides research guides to over 6,000 topics, enables you save books to a personal bookshelf, provides help in citing the materials you use, and makes writing notes and highlighting the materials you have read very easy.
Check out "10 Cool Things About Questia."

Questia School site

Other Online Resources

Several good websites and directories are described and linked from the library's Authors Page
For a very good online portal to literary criticism resources see the Virtual Resource Center (VRC). (Click on Literary Criticism under the Literature heading).

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center is a database provided by the Marin County Free Library and you will need an MCFL library card to access it. LRC is a very comprehensive database of critical and biographical information about authors and literature.