ENGL 126 Research Writing: Humanities

This research guide is to help students enrolled in English 126 - writing in the humanities.

Featured journal for literary criticism

Tutorial on Gale Literature

Source: "Gale Literature Resource Center - Literary Analysis" by Gale, A Cengage Company, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how Gale Literature Resource Center can help you search for literary analysis sources, including author biographies, critical essays, overviews, and more.

Extend your Research

Scholarly vs General Criticism

Comparing Sources

Contrast the two articles linked below to see some of the differences between an article written for the general public (can be students) and a scholarly article.

Video Tutorial - Literary Criticism 2: Step into the Scholarly Conversation

Source: "Literary Criticism 2: Step into the Scholarly Conversation" by Holman Library is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Part 2 of 2: Learn how to research what scholars are saying about your literary work and/or author.

Article databases

Finding Scholarly Articles

The databases below all contain scholarly literary criticism. If an option, limit to scholarly peer-reviewed journals. 

See the image below for more details. 

Sample Search
  • Remember to try different keywords, subject terms, and multiple databases.

(click on image to enlarge)screenshot of an advanced search

You can limit your One Search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal articles. Just select Peer Reviewed Journals from the results page.  

  • You can also refine your search to include sources that are not full text, by date, and more.  

What is scholarly literary criticism?

What is Literary Criticism?

Literary criticism is analysis, interpretation and evaluation of authors and their works of literature, which can include novels, short stories, essays, plays and poetry.
  • Literary "criticism" is not necessarily negative; "criticism" means a thoughtful critique of an author's work or an author's style in order to better understand the meaning, symbolism or influences of a particular piece or a body of literature.

  • Literary critical analysis may be written for the general public, students or a scholarly audience.

  • Popular literary criticism is written for the general public or for students. Local newspapers, such as the Seattle Times, and magazines, such as Entertainment Weekly or O, contain book reviews. Introductory articles, such as the Topic Overviews found in the database, Gale Literary Sources, are written for students.

  • Scholarly literary criticism is generally found in scholarly literary journals, such as Critique or The Journal of Ethnic Fiction, as well as in books. A scholarly journal is peer-reviewed if articles that are published in it go through a rigorous review process by other experts in the field.

  • Scholarly literary criticism engages with a written work in a thoughtful, sophisticated and sustained manner. While literary criticism from a reference book provides you with introductory terminology, context, interpretation and more, scholarly criticism goes deeper.

  • Scholarly literary criticism analyzes and builds on specific passages, characters, themes, language, etc. from a written work.

  • Scholarly literary criticism brings the critic's particular theoretical framework, biases, questions, etc to bear upon the text.

  • Articles are written by scholars in a subject area for an academic or professional audience. Check for author affiliations or credentials in the database record or at the beginning or end of an article.

  • Scholarly literary criticism may be extensively cited, if the author references the work of other thinkers. Some scholarly literary criticism engages primarily and closely with the text itself, rather than with other the ideas of other scholars. (Scholarly articles in the sciences and social sciences are, as a rule, extensively and thoroughly cited.)

  • There is no one correct scholarly reading of a text. That said, be sure to build your own analysis with examples and support from the written work you're analyzing as well as the scholarly article with which you are "conversing."

Scholarly Criticism

A Scholarly Conversation

For sustained and deeper literary criticism, find relevant scholarly articles in library databases.

  • Think of scholarship as a conversation - a conversation between critic, text, and other critics. Use the Works Cited to track down sources engaged by a critic.

Build your own conversation, integrating sources and voices that participate in your original analysis.

Thinking Outside the Box

Uh oh? Not finding enough?

What to do when you cannot find much written about your story or author

When you do research on current authors and works, sometimes there has not yet been a lot written about them. That's okay!

Scholarship represents your original thinking about a text or theme in literature. As part of your analysis you can integrate relevant sources, even if they are not about your specific text. Think about:

  • larger themes or issues, such as refugees, terrorism, identity, nation, or colonialism
  • other works by your author
  • analysis of the work of another author that you can apply to your interpretation of your short story or novel
  • a literary movement, genre or body of literature, such as Pakistani literature, Southeast Asian authors, literature of the diaspora, post-colonial literature
  • a literary theory, such as queer theory, gender theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, psychoanalytic theory, etc.
  • Below is an example of ideas and analysis about Minaret by Leila Aboulela. This would be a source to use if I were writing about the same ideas in a different work by a different author. 

(click on image to enlarge)

Abstract of analysis of Minaret by Aboulela. Highlighted sections indicate ideas i could apply to other works

Example: The highlighted sections of this article abstract (I would then read the whole article) might support an analysis of another novel or short story that explores how women navigate different spaces of religion, nation, and identity by claiming the veil as a symbol that simultaneously excludes them and allows them to define a new space.

Words to Consider

Sample Subject Terms

  • (Look for other terms relevant to your text)
  • (Also please note that subject terms may use old fashioned and out of date terminology!)

  • Literary Criticism
  • Criticism and Interpretation
  • Criticism -- Political Aspects -- United States
  • Criticism -- United States -- History - Twentieth Century
  • Criticism and Interpretation
  • Psychoanalysis and literature -- United States -- History -- 19th century
  • Psychological Fiction, American -- History and Criticism
  • Television Criticism
  • Literary Criticism/ Poetry
  • Literature -- Black Authors -- History and Criticism
  • Literary Criticism / American / African American 
  • Feminist Literary Criticism
  • Feminist Criticism
  • Queer Literary Criticism
  • Homosexuality in Literature 
  • Art Criticism
  • Film Criticism
Sample Keyword Search:

"literary analysis" OR "literary criticism" OR "criticism AND interpretation"

  • AND queer*