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

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

Use these databases to find critical essays

These library databases usually provide most of the information for a paper or bibliography. Off campus use requires your login after clicking the database link. Before clicking the link, read what type of information is in each database and our recommended search strategies. Use the print icons within each database (not your browser print) for better printed pages. Ask for help if you need it. Each database opens in a new window. Exit the database by clicking the X and return to this guide.

  • Humanities Full-Text   (Ebsco) Literary journals, all scholarly. Most have full-text available. Type the title of your work and the author's last name, placing AND between the terms.
    • For example: rose for emily and faulkner  Click search.
    • The results page has essays in order of relevance. Sort the results by "Date Newest" so that the most recent articles are first. Then you are viewing essays that have not yet been included in the other databases in this list.
    • In the results full text appears below the citation information. Some are only available as PDF files. Some are HTML full text files. Some are both. Use PDF when you have the option, because you can see page numbers for citing your quotes in your text.
    • Click "PDF full text" to open the PDF version. Hover the mouse at the bottom of the PDF article to see the print and download icons, if you need to print or download the article.
  • Literature Resource Center (Gale) Provides articles from a mix of literary criticism books and scholarly journals.
    • Type the title of your work in the search box and click "Name of Work" radio button. Click search.
    • Your results show on tabs, one tab for each type of information: literary criticism essays are on the first tab, author biographies are on the second tab, and work overviews are on the third tab. (You should already have two work overviews from the "Choose a Topic tab resources)
    • Source information for a citation is at the end of each essay. You can copy/paste and add it to a word document as you do your research. Any source information in the databases should be checked for correct MLA style. Always check capitalization in titles in any machine-generated citations. 
  • GVRL-Gale Virtual Reference Library Provides information from reference sets called Short Stories for Students and Drama for Students. These are more lengthy overviews for each short story or play, with detailed summaries for each character and other relevant information such as history portrayed in the story, setting, style, theme, etc. After this information, there are several critical essays.
    • Type the name of your work and click search.
    • Look for your short story from the set Short Stories for Students. If you are writing about a play, look for the set Drama for Students.
    • There are several other literature reference sets in this database: Twayne's Authors Series, Scribner's Writers series, and others.
  • Literary Criticism Online (Gale) Provides information from Short Story Criticism, a large set (more then 100 vols.) of red books in our Reference area that contain many critical essays. Check for duplication in the databases listed  above. Many students find it easier to first find an essay in the print volumes (at PN3373 .S387 in Reference), and then look for it in the database (for easy printing). Ask for help if you need it. 
  • Academic Search Complete (Ebsco) A broad-subject database of magazines and journals. Type the title of your work and your author's last name, placing "and" between the words. For example:  rose for emily and faulkner   (Do not click Search yet)
    • Look under "Limit results to" and check: "Full text" and "Scholarly (peer reviewed) journals." "Peer reviewed" means these journals have essays selected by expert scholars, literary scholars in this case.
    • Now click search. Again select PDF full-text if you have the option, as you did for the first database. There might be a lot of duplication of articles in these databases.
  • ProQuest Research Library Another database similar to Academic Search Complete, but with some different literary journals. Use the same search strategy as described for Academic Search Complete.

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