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Finding Literary Criticism: Literary Criticism

This guide helps you identify literary criticism sources in the ACC libraries' electronic and print collections.

What Is Literary Criticism?

Literary Criticism

What is Literary Criticism?

Before you can find literary criticism, it is important to know what it is.

Literary criticism is an in-depth analysis of a literary work:  book, book chapter, essay, novel, short story, play, or poem. These articles usually are published in scholarly journals as opposed to popular magazines and newspapers.

Use this guide to find sources of literary criticism available both in print and electronically from ACC libraries.


If you are still having trouble locating criticism on your book or author,
please ask a librarian for help.

Click on the Get Help! tab to find out how to contact us!

Why Use Literary Criticism?

Reading how other people have evaluated a novel, short story, play or poem can help you define your own views.

  • Perhaps they see aspects of the work that you didn't notice.
  • Maybe they give historical background that explains why the work was written the way it was.
  • Maybe you will disagree with them and it will help you focus your opinion.

Criticism doesn't substitute for reading the original work because it won't give a detailed plot summary.  However it can help you understand the main points of a story and identify the significant parts.

Many critical sources discuss an author's overall writing and may not even mention the specific work you have read.  This is especially true for poems and short stories. This sort of criticism can still be useful if you apply the overall interpretation of an author to your particular work.

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