Skip to main content

ENGL 126 Writing: Humanities ONLINE (Moreno): Find Starting Literary Criticism

This guide is for students enrolled in Michael Moreno's ONLINEnglish 126 Fall 2016

Popular Literary Criticism

Sometimes it helps to start with literary criticism written or recorded for a general audience, whether the interested public or students. Learn about your texts, authors, and issues in "Popular" Literary Criticism sources, such as Reference Articles, Book Reviews and Author Interviews.

Literary Criticism Database

Get started in Gale Literature with:

  • Topic & Work Overviews -  Written for students and a great place to find an introduction to:
    • the author and their historical context
    • key themes and literary elements (ex. symbols or voice, etc.)
    • an overview of what critics say about that work/author's work
    • three brief pieces of original criticism
    • Look for topic and work overviews from the for Students series, so Poetry for Students, Drama for Students, etc.) 
  • Author Interviews - What does the author say about their own work and the ideas that drive them? Very useful!
  • News & Reviews - Written for the general public. The best are insightful and accessible.
  • Biographies - A good biography essay talks about the author's life, their influences, critical reception, and more
    • Note: Some of the articles under Literary Criticism are also written for a general audience.
To search for sources in Gale Literature, type in: 
  • a theme or issue at Keyword
  • a title at Name of Work
  • and/or an author at Work By or About.
    • Tip 1: the database will offer suggestions as you enter your search term. Use them.
    • Tip 2: type author's name: surname (last name), first name. That's for this database only
Think critically about what you want to learn and how to find interesting and relevant articles.
  • Try different search terms. If "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan only returns a handful of articles, try searching for articles on The Joy Luck Club, the larger work it was published in.
  • Try a larger theme, such as "Chinese American authors" or "Chinese American" AND immigrants.

Sort your results by info type to find background info and criticism written for a general audience:

InterLibrary Loan:

No library has everything! Use InterLibrary Loan to borrow articles and books from other libraries free of charge.

Reference Databases

Find background sources for context: 

Reference sources refers to academic encyclopedia articles. Brief and factual, reference articles can help you understand:

  • the cultural, social, and historical contexts of literature
  • introduce you to a culture
  • provide you with an overview of an author's life, work, and impact
  • give you an introduction to literary criticism on an author or literary work

Reference sources are also a great place to pick up:

  • Keywords for further research. Keywords may be: names of people, places or works of art; dates; events; concepts, or issues. 
  • Leads to key resources on a subject for further research.
Here is a sample search in the library reference collection GVRL:

Making sense of search results:

Find Reviews, News, & Interviews in the Popular Press

Find the popular conversation in news media

Find documentary and news:
Find book reviews, news & interviews in Holman Library periodicals databases.


  • In Academic Search Complete, enter the title "in quotes." Under Document Type, select Book Review.
  • In ProQuest, enter the title "in quotes." Under Document Type, select Review.
  • Do not just search for reviews! Authors and their works are discussed in the media beyond book reviews. 

Find interviews, news, and reviews in radio & podcasts: 
Find news, reviews, and interviews in international media: