Literary Reference and Criticism

Most literary scholars first publish criticism in literary journals or books.  Subsequently, databases (e.g. JSTOR, PowerSearch, and AP Source) archive many of these essays. Literary e-books often include critical overviews and/or excerpts from essays too.

PowerSearch searches eBooks in Gale eBooks and Academic/General OneFile, including:

  • Literature and Its Times
  • Masterpieces of World Literature
  • Drama for Students
  • Nonfiction Classics for Students
  • Novels for Students
  • Poetry for Students
  • Shakespeare for Students
  • Short Stories for Students

Explora offers several publications which contain literary criticism, including:

Gale eBooks contains digital reference books on a variety of topics.

JSTOR is a treasure trove of literary criticism, including several journals dedicated to specific writers like Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Twain.

Contemporary Writing

Literary magazines and news publications with a literary style (e.g. The Atlantic) are fantastic portals for finding poems, stories, essays, and creative nonfiction (CNF) being published today. Some also publish literary criticism. Current issues of several top-notch publications are accessible through AP Source and PowerSearch, including the following:

Older issues of AntiochAPR , Chicago, NER (under different titles), Ploughshares, and Sewanee, as well as more lit mags, like CallalooIowa ReviewKenyon Review, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner are available in JSTOR.

Earlier Creative Writing & Criticism

Thanks to large-scale digitization projects by Google and participating libraries, and collaborative preservation efforts like HathiTrust, many texts published before 1923 are freely available online. Some of these texts also include literary criticism. Several literary magazines in JSTOR contain earlier creative works and criticism too:
  • Chronicling America – archive of U.S. newspapers, most between 1836 and 1922
  • Google Books – Advanced Search: use date limiters to focus results on a particular literary period; contrary to its name, Google Books also includes magazines like Ebony, Life, and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
  • HathiTrust – partnership of several academic and research institutions worldwide
  • Internet Archive – non-profit digital library (a.k.a. The Wayback Machine)
  • JSTOR – scholarly archive including several lit mags with deep backfiles
  • The Making of America (Cornell) – archive of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction, including over 100,000 articles from 19th c. periodicals like the Atlantic Monthly (1857-1901), Century Magazine (1881-1899), Harper’s (1850-1899), and Scribner’s (1887-1896)
  • Poetry Magazine – browse issues of Poetry Magazine as old as 1912
  • Women Working, 1800 to 1930 (Harvard) – archive of primary sources including books, pamphlets, diaries, memoirs, catalogs, photographs, and women’s magazines like Woman’s Home Companion (1899-1921)

Anthology Sources by Genre

To build your personal anthology, you’ll need quotations, poems, creative nonfiction (a.k.a. CNF), and fiction that connects with your theme.
  • For poetry found in databases, make sure to view the PDF (if one is available) for accurate line breaks.
  • Subject headings assigned to documents found in databases often indicate how the work is categorized: poems, essays, short stories, etc. which means you can use these words as search terms to narrow your search results.
  • Issues of literary magazines sometimes have a theme or focus. Publication’s web sites (like VQR‘s) often list these themes.
Creative Nonfiction 

Essays, autobiographies, literary journalism, memoirs 

  • Read essays, memoirs, and hybrid works in literary magazines
  • Check out memoirs from the library’s biography (B) section. Essay collections are found in 800’s, primarily in 814.
  • Read columns, editorials, or opinion (i.d. Op/Ed) pieces in contemporary newspapers and magazines available in Explora and PowerSearch
  • Read older editorials and columns in the Historical Newspapers database.
  • Read longform journalism in LongformLongreads, and The Verge – Longform
  • If you have a Zinio account through Henrico, Pamunkey or Richmond Public Libraries, read Utne Reader
Novels, short stories, flash fiction, microfiction, nanofiction
  • Read short stories, novel excerpts, and hybrid works in literary magazines
  • Check out novels and short story collections from the library’s fiction (FIC) section
  • Browse for books in places like Goodreads (by genre), and About.com (by genre, theme, and subject)
Poems, prose poems, docupoems
  • Read poetry, prose poems, and hybrid works in literary magazines
  • Check out poetry from the library’s literature section (800’s), mostly in 808 (anthologies), 811 (American poetry), and 821 (British poetry)
  • Browse for poems on sites like those listed below:

Finding Works by Theme

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