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English 122 - Composition II: Literary Criticism

Library resources for argumentative essays.

Choosing a Topic

Start your search using the title of the work and the author's name, but you may also broaden your search to examine:

  • Author’s Work in General
  • Themes or Motifssuch as utopia, scapegoat
  • Types of Criticism – Marxist, feminist
  • Genre – such as science fiction
  • Literary Elements – such as metaphor, imagery
  • Time & Culture – such as 20th century, women

Search for background information about an author or work.

What is Literary Criticism?

Literary criticism is the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of literary works. It is usually in the form of a critical essay, but in-depth book reviews can sometimes be considered literary criticism.

Criticism may examine:

  • a particular literary work
  • an author's writings as a whole

Definition from IPL Lit Criticism Pathfinder




Find literary criticism published in peer-reviewed journals in multiple databases.

Search Tips for OneSearch

  • Put the title of the work in quotes and the author's last name, for example, "Doll's House" Ibsen
  • If you can't find criticism about a specific work, put the author's name in quotes along with the word criticism, e.g. "Luisa Valenzuela" criticism

Recommended Research Databases

Research databases contain a variety of sources such as plot summaries, short stories, book reviews, and journal articles. Follow the tips on the cheat sheet below to narrow your search to literary criticism in peer-reviewed journal articles.

Writing About Literature

How to Find Books about Literature

The tips below will help you find books in the Library Catalog (see box above).

Literary Criticism about an Author's Work

  1. Select SUBJECT from the dropdown menu and type the author's last name first. criticism about August Wilson's writing                                                                                                                         
  2. Click on the subject heading Criticism and Interpretation to see a list of titles subject heading for Criticism and Interpretation

Books BY an Author

Select AUTHOR from the dropdown menu and type the author's last name first.          search for books by an author

Books ABOUT an Author

Select SUBJECT from the dropdown menu and type the author's last name first.