ENGL 126 Research Writing: Humanities

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

Finding background info in books

Selected Resources

Schools of Literary Criticism
  • Find background Info on Schools of Literary Criticism, in both print and online

Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism

Understanding theoretical lenses

Start here, accessing the resources on this page, if you want to learn a little more about your literary theory or to help you choose a theoretical lens.

  • Literary criticism is analysis of a literary text. It may be written for a general audience, such as a book review, or it may be sustained scholarly analysis written for an academic audience.

  • Literary Critics bring many different perspectives to bear on the written word! 

  • These perspectives often evolve as reactions to the political, economic, cultural, educational and artistic climate of a historical period.

  • These perspectives are referred to as Schools of Literary Criticism. Get to know different schools of criticism.

  • The following is a list of some schools of Literary Criticism. There are others!
  • Note: You may not find criticism of your short story from your critical perspective. It may help you develop your analysis, however, to read how your school of criticism is applied to another story.

    Remember too: relevant scholarly criticism may not use the exact terminology of your school of criticism. To find Marxist criticism, for example, you might search for class, power, poverty, etc. Or to find a feminist reading, you might search for articles that talk about women or gender.

Schools of Literary Theory: 

These perspectives are referred to as Schools of Literary Criticism and may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Formalist / New Criticism
  • Historical/ New Historicism
  • Mythological 
  • Gender Studies
  • Deconstructionist
  • Post-Colonial
  • Marxist
  • Biographical
  • Psychological 
  • Sociological
  • Reader Response
  • Cultural Studies
  • Feminist Theory
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Queer Theory

Literary Criticism Background Resources: databases

Library Databases

Learn more about schools of literary criticism from library reference sources.

  • Search by specific schools of criticism or the broader term: literary criticism.

Note: Remember to search phrases in quotes. Ex: "feminist literary criticism"


Searching the Web

Use the links below to access some literary theory background Information and definitions on the web.

Literary Analysis Terminology

Literary Analysis Basics

Want basic information on literary analysis terminology, genres, literary devices, literary periods, and the like? 

Look it up here: