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Literary criticism is the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of literary works. Criticism may examine a particular work, or may look at an author’s writings as a whole. The amount of information you will find on an author will be dependent on several factors: when the author wrote, how much material is available on him/her, how popular the author is, etc. It can be harder to find information on newer authors for the simple fact that less time has passed for researchers to study and write about the author and his/her works. Certain authors are more popular topics for research than others and simply more has been written. When planning your research, take these issues into account.
If you are having difficulty finding criticism of an author’s works, try looking under broader subject terms. Collections of essays will often be categorized under a broad subject heading, such as English Poets, rather than individual author listings. For example if you are looking for information on Emily Dickinson, you might also want to search for books with the more general subject of American Poets, or American Women Poets. An essay about Emily Dickinson could be included along with essays about other poets. While there are entire books devoted to a single author or a single work, there are also many books that look at the literature of a certain time period, geographical location, or group of people. These can contain valuable information, discussing an author in the context of his/her contemporaries. Limiting your searches to a specific time period, or geographical location can help you locate more specific materials.
Electronic Databases & Print Indexes:
Contemporary Authors: Provides biographical and bibliographical references for more than 100,000 authors in the U.S. and around the world.
Essay and General Literature Index: Subject and author indexes to articles in selected books.
R 080.16 E78e INDEX TABLES
Humanities Index: Covers about 350 journals in the humanities, nearly half of which are concerned with literature. Subjects are organized alphabetically. Check our serials list to see if we own a particular title.
R 016.0013 H918h INDEX TABLES
JSTOR:JSTORprovides access to the complete archives of a core collection of 117 scholarly journals. Select the specific journals or discipline you wish to search, and then search your topic by keyword, author or title.
Literature Online (LION):LIONis a virtual library of more than 300,000 works of English and American poetry, drama, and prose written between 600 and the present day. It also contains biographies, bibliographies and key criticism and reference resources.
MLA Bibliography: Comprehensive literature database, which contains citations only.
Project Muse:provides online full-text access to nearly 50 literature journals.
This collection includes all volumes in the Scribner Writers series, including American Writers, British Writers, European Writers, and the World and Genre Writers Series.Each essay provides a concise introductory preface and a biography placing the writer’s work within a personal and historical framework, and concludes with a bibliography of primary and secondary sources for further study.
Mandarin M3 OPAC – the library’s catalog allows you to search for both print and e-books the library owns. Use the subject search to search for critical and biographical information about an author. If you are uncertain as to what subject heading to use, click the browse button near the subject field. This will give you an alphabetical listing of all the subject headings in the catalog.
Reference Materials: The library has many different reference books that provide biographical and critical information on authors. Look for bibliographies or reference guides on your author. Bio-bibliographical dictionaries and encyclopedias are excellent places to start, as they will provide a general overview of an author, his/her career, and works, often accompanied by critical essays. Some suggested starting points include:
African-American Writers. R 810.9896 S662a
American Nature Writers. R 810.936 A512e (2 vol.)
American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies. R 810.9 U57a (14 vol.)
Black Literature Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Most Significant Works of Black Authors over the Past 200 Years. R 809.88 D765b (4 vol.)
British Writers. R 820.9 B862 (12 vol.)
Dictionary of Literary Biography. R 928.1 D554b
European Writers. R 809.894 E90 Zs (3 vol.)