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 Virtual Reference Library 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
AP Source offers several publications which contain literary criticism, including:
- American Literature (Duke; 12-month delayed access)
- Bronte Studies (12-month delayed access)
- College Literature (Johns Hopkins UP)
- Critique (18-month delay) – critiques contemporary fiction
- Eighteenth Century Fiction (6-month delayed access)
- Explicator (18-month delayed access) – brief criticism/explication (typically 3-5 pages)
- Faulkner Journal
- Southern Literary Journal (UNC; 12-month delayed access)
JSTOR is a treasure trove of literary criticism, including several journals dedicated to specific writers like Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Twain.
Virtual Reference Library (Gale) contains digital reference books on a variety of topics.
- African American Review: interviews, fiction, poems, and essays on African American lit, art, and culture
- American Poetry Review (APR): poetry, fiction, social commentary, opinion, translations, and reviews
- Antioch Review: essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews
- The Atlantic: fiction, poetry, humor, reviews, and articles about current events, arts, and leisure
- Beloit Poetry Journal (BPJ): poetry and reviews
- Chicago Review: poetry, fiction, translations, essays, interviews, reviews, art, and drama
- New England Review (NER): poetry, fiction, essays, and translations
- The New Yorker: news editorials, short fiction, poetry, and art reviews
- Ploughshares: fiction, poetry, essays, commentary, and reviews
- Sewanee Review: criticism, fiction, and poetry
- Southern Review: essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews
- Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR): articles, poetry, fiction, and reviews
- World Literature Today: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews
Older issues of Antioch, APR , Chicago, NER (under different titles), Ploughshares, and Sewanee, as well as more lit mags, like Callaloo, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner are available in JSTOR.
Anthology Sources by Genre
- 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.
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 AP Source and PowerSearch
- Read older editorials and columns in the Historical Newspapers database.
- Read longform journalism in Longform, Longreads, 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
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:
- Poems by Theme or Occasion
- Poetry Archive – browse by theme (more UK than US content)
- Poetry Foundation – browse by subject or occasion (global in scope, but mostly US and UK content)
- Poetry International Web – browse by country
- Poetry River – focused on contemporary American poetry and docupoetry
- Poets Corner – browse by subject (English-language poems published before 1923)
- Consult quotation books in the library’s reference section (REF 808)
- African American Quotations
- Brainy Quotes by Topic
- Quotations Page
- Think Exist Quotations
- Women’s Quotations
- Quotation section of Bartleby.com
Finding Works by Theme
- Notice the contexts in which your theme appears. Reflect on the question, What do we talk about when we talk about ____(your theme)? For instance, themes that emerge in literature about war include fear, courage, sacrifice, corruption, oppression, and displacement. Browsing works on topics likely to include your theme may lead you to discover works that don’t mention the theme directly (or by any of its synonyms or antonyms).
- Consult thematic guides to literature, such as these books available in the Gale Virtual Reference Library and EBSCO eBook Collection: