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Fiction and Science Fiction Criticism

Poetry Criticism

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Literary Criticism

Finding criticism of fiction, poetry and short stories in the Library can be very time consuming. You will need to use LIUCat to locate books. You will also want to use the web databases to find periodical articles. Always ask a librarian to help you locate the information you need.

Print Resources in the Reference Department:
Many dictionaries and encyclopedias will help you with your research. Gale's literary criticism series covers literature of different time periods. The index in each will lead you to the correct set and volume(s):

  • Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800 (LC) PN86.L56
  • Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism (CMLC) PN681.5.C57
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism (NCLC) PN761.N56
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (TCLC) PN771.G27
  • Shakespearean Criticism (SC) PR2965. S44
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC) PN771.C59

For criticism of specific literary forms consult:

  • Drama Criticism (DC) PN1601.D59
  • Poetry Criticism (PC) PN1010.P499
  • Short Story Criticism (SSC) PN3373.S386

If you need criticism on a particular play, poem or short story you can look up the title in the appropriate set.

Biographical information can help you identify and study an author's motivation or themes. The multi-volume set Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) provides critical and biographical analysis. For basic biographical sketches try sources such as Contemporary Authors (CA,CANR).

These print sources are also indexed online in the Gale Literary Index.

Magill's not only publishes plot summaries in Masterplots but also a series of books giving critical overviews of an author's style and reviews of specific works:

  • Critical Survey of Drama
    • English Language Series PR623.C75
    • Foreign Language Series PN1625.C74

  • Critical Survey of Poetry
    • English Language Series PR502.C85
    • Foreign Language Series PN1021.C7 1984

  • Critical Survey of Long Fiction
    • English Language Series PR821.C7 1983
    • Foreign Language Series PN3451.C75

  • Critical Survey of Short Fiction PN3321.C7

The Reference Department also has a substantial collection of bibliographies about individual authors. These are generally located in the Z's. Check LIUCat under the author's name for the proper LC call number.

Often symbolism in literature can be traced to classical mythology. Try LIUCat for books discussing myths.

Besides the many literary sources in Reference, you will also find works in the bookstacks on a particular author. In using LIUCat, remember for books BY an author use the Author List, and for books ABOUT an author (either biographies or criticism) use the Subject List.


Web Resources:

Virtual Reference Collection has an A-Z listing of topics. Click on Literature for links to sites that may include criticism on a particular author or work.

Gale Literary Index guides you to the Gale print series of literary criticism and biography. Enter an author's name or the title of a work to get exact references to the series.

Campus-Wide Databases includes specialized literature databases as well as general databases that also cover literature in which you can locate articles and other publications. Some provide citations; some provide full-text; and some can be accessed from your home computer:

  • MLA International Bibliography provides access to more than 1.5 million bibliographic citations to journal articles, books, and dissertations from 1963 to the present in academic disciplines such as: language, literature, folklore, linguistics, literary theory and criticism, and the dramatic arts.

  • Literature Resource Center provides access to biographies, bibliographies, and critical analyses of more than 120,000 novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, and other writers, with in-depth coverage of 2,500 of the most-studied authors from every age and literary discipline. Includes the full text from some of the reference books discussed above.

  • Magill on Literature Plus contains editorially reviewed critical analyses, brief plot summaries, and extended character profiles, covering works by more than 8,500 long and short fiction writers, poets, dramatists, essayists, and philosophers. Also contains over 6,500 biographical essays on more than 3,500 different authors, more than 1,000 images, a glossary of 1,310 literary terms, and 376 genre-driven overview essays providing details about important literary genres, time periods, and national literatures.

  • Contemporary Novelists contains biographical/critical essays on the most important living novelists writing in English worldwide.

  • Contemporary Poets provides biographical and bibliographical information on 789 of the world's most important contemporary English-language poets. Entries include personal and career information, addresses, a detailed bibliography, a list of further reading sources, and more. Each entry also includes a signed critical essay covering each poet's career and works, written by an expert in the field.

  • Modern American Literature contains excerpts by noted critics on 489 of the most significant American authors of the twentieth century. Each author entry gathers a variety of critical approaches and shows the evolution of the critical reception of that author's work. The authors discussed exemplify the best American writing in a variety of genres, from poetry to expository essays, and reflect the diversity of the American experience in the twentieth century.

  • Nonfiction Classics for Students provides in-depth literary and historical background on the most commonly studied nonfiction essays, books, biographies, and memoirs in a streamlined, easy-to-use format. This reference series gives high-school and undergraduate students an ideal starting point for class assignments, term papers, and special projects.

  • Reference Guide to Holocaust Literature provides biographical and critical essays on 223 writers connected to or concerned with the Holocaust, as well as separate essays on 307 of their works.

  • Reference Guide to Short Fiction contains biographical and critical essays on 376 of the most important writers of short fiction writing in English worldwide, and 403 separate essays on selected works. Also includes some authors of note who did not write in English, but whose works have been widely translated and are often studied, such as Anton Chekhov and Jean-Paul Sartre. Most authors covered were born after 1750, but a few important figures from earlier periods are included as well.

  • Reference Guide to World Literature contains biographical and critical essays on authors from throughout the world, as well as essays covering specific work or works of an author, with criticism and analysis of those works.

  • Writers Directory features up-to-date bibliographical, biographical, and contact information for thousands of living authors worldwide who have at least one English publication. Entries typically include name, pseudonyms, addresses, citizenship, birth date, specialization, career information, and a bibliography. Contact information includes e-mail addresses where available.

In addition, many general databases will also contain material on literature, and many newspapers contain reviews of current books.

Ask a librarian for assistance in using the print or online resources for your literary research. New materials arrive regularly in the Reference Department and the Library. Keep checking for the latest information.

Compiled by Jackie Elsas, 4/99
Databases updated 3/13/05

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