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English and Literature Courses--How to find literary criticism: Criticism in reference books

How to find essays about authors and their literary works from authoritative sources.

Use these reference books to find critical essays

The following reference sets are located in the PN call number section of Reference on 2nd floor. When the set is also available in a database, that is indicated. If there is not an online source, copy the article at the copier next to the 2nd floor elevator for 10¢ per page. The copier accepts $1 bills and coins. Reference books may not be checked out.

  • Short Stories for Students PN3373 .S3844  32 volumes. Each article is a lengthy overview of a short story, including characters, the plot and other elements, historical background portrayed in the story, and setting, followed by several critical essays by different authors.
    • To find a short story, go to the last numbered volume. Look up your story by its title or its author in the index in the back of the volume. Locate that volume. Stories in each volume are in alphabetical order by their titles. These volumes are online in GVRL-Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  • Short Story Criticism PN3373 .S387 93 volumes. After the author's biography are numerous critical essays on their short stories. 
    • Look for the short story title index, a separate book. Look up your story by its title. Locate the volume. Articles in each volume are in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The title index gives a page number in every instance where your story is mentioned in a critical essay. These volumes are online in Literary Criticism Online. Many of the articles are also in Literature Resource Center
  • Poetry for Students PN1101 .P756 35 volumes. Each article is a lengthy overview of a poem with background, followed by several critical essays by different authors.
    • Go to the last numbered volume. Look up your poem by its author or title in the index in the back. Locate the volume by number. Poems are in alphabetical order by their titles within each volume.    
  • Poetry Criticism PN1010 .P499  66 volumes. After the author's biography are numerous critical essays on their poetry.
    • Look for the poem title index, a separate book. Look up your poem by its title. Locate the volume. Articles in each volume are in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The index also gives a page number for every instance where your poem is mentioned in an essay.
  • Drama for Students PN1601 .D595 28 volumes. Each article is a lengthy overview of a play with background followed by several critical essays by different authors.
    • Go to the last numbered volume. Look up your play by its author or title in the index, back of the volume. Locate the volume. Plays are in alphabetical order by their titles within each volume. Many of these volumes are also in the GVRL-Gale Virtual Referenece Library.
  • Drama Criticism PN1601 .D59 26 volumes. After the author's brief bio are numerous critical essays on their plays. 
    • Look for the play title index, a separate book. Look up your play by its title. Locate the volume. Articles in each volume are in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The title index also gives a page number for every instance where your play is mentioned in an essay.

These next three sets cover authors based upon the century in which they died. Living authors would be in Contemporary Literary Criticism. They provide author background and critical essays for each author. 

  • Ninteenth-Century Literature Criticism PN761 .N5- Look for brown books with NCLC on the spine. 160 volumes. Go to the last numbered volume. Look up your author to see what volumes they are in. Authors are arranged alphabetically by last name within each volume.
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism PN771 .G27- Look for brown books with TCLC on the spine. 270 volumes. Go to the last numbered volume. Look up your author to see what volumes they are in. Authors are arranged alphabetically by last name within each volume.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism  PN771 .C59- Look for brown books with CLC on the spine. 327 volumes. Go to the last numbered volume. Look up your author for volume numbers/pages. Authors are arranged alphabetically by last name within each volume. Selected articles are online in Literature Resource Center.

This next set (over 300 volumes) provides a lengthier author biography. The set is organized by literary types and time periods. The last volume has the index by author names for all the books in the set.

  • Dictionary of Literary Biography PS129 .D5- Look for blue books with DLB on the spine. 343 volumes. It is online in Literature Resource Center.

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