Research Guide: Literary Criticism

This guide will help you understand and locate literary criticism

Literary Criticism Database

Using Gale Literature

Search for critical analysis of novels, plays, short stories and poetry in the literary criticism database Gale Literature

  • Click on the link above to open the database.

Trying an initial search

Use Gale Literature for more introductory information, such as interviews, biographies, work overviews, reviews, etc. There is some scholarly content in the database as well, but you will need to assess if it is really scholarly.

  1. As shown in the image below, some of the most effective ways are to search using just keywords or you can search using an author name or the title of the work 
  2. The database will often make suggestions, filing in the search box
  3. Be sure to limit to articles that you can immediately access by clicking on "full-text"

(click on image to enlarge)

screenshot of the advanced search page in Gale Literature - showing how to search by keyword or by title, as outlined in the text before the image

Limiting by series, or literary criticism collections

​Use the Electronic Resources Collections Contemporary Literature Criticism, Poetry Criticism, Drama Criticism, Shakespearean Criticism, etc. to get some full-text and some excerpts of key scholarly literary criticism on literary works and authors.

  • This is a great way to get a sense of the scope of the literary conversation on a work, as well as to find individual sources.
  1. To search Gale Literature, be sure to use relevant keywords to find resources on your topic, search by author name, and/or search by named work. 

  2. Under Limit Results, you can search for articles within a particular collection. This is a useful tool for finding the most relevant articles.

  • At By Product/Series:
    • Click on the small drop-down arrow 
    • Check the box next to the collection you want. Ex: poetry, Shakespeare, etc. 

(click on image to enlarge)

screenshot of the advanced search page showing how to limit to a series

Refining the results

After you have completed a search, you will see the list of results - limited by type - and tools to change your search over on the side.

  • Click on the large title to get the whole article
    • Notice the information about the type of article, length, and date that appears just below the title.
  • Note how you can use options in the menu to further focus your search results and get more relevant articles.
    • The "Search Within" tool can be especially helpful when searching for specific terms within the results of a search
  • For scholarly literary criticism, you can also search only for peer reviewed (scholarly) articles on your text.
    • Limit to full-text and peer reviewed on the initial search page, or here, on the side of the page once you have searched.

(click on image to enlarge)

screenshot of the results page in gale literature, showing how to pick an article, and highlighting the tools to limit the search as explained in the text before the image

An example of criticism

image of the cover of The New Yorker


Criticism of the novel "On the Road" taken from The New Yorker - one of the magazine articles available through the library's databases.

“The bits and pieces of America that the book captures, therefore, are snapshots taken on the run, glimpses from the window of a speeding car. And they are carefully selected to represent a way of life that is coming to an end in the postwar boom, a way of life before televisions and washing machines and fast food…”

Text and image source: Menand, Louis. "Drive, He Wrote." The New Yorker. 1 Oct. 2007: 88. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 Nov. 2009.