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Research Guide: Literature and Literary Criticism


Finding Books

Using Catalogs: Use the WSU online catalog to find location and availability of books and other media in Stewart Library. Most of the books on literature and literary criticism are located on level two of the library in the General Collection under the call numbers PS and PR.

Use WorldCat to find books in other libraries. Use your WSU username and password for off-campus access. Books and articles not available at Stewart Library may be obtained through Interlibrary Loan

Subject Searching: Use the term "Criticism" and the name of an author or title in the catalog to find books analyzing specific author's works. For example: enter  criticism Dickens as a general keyword search in the catalog. It is almost always useful to consider narrowing literature searches by using terms that will describe:

  • author
  • language and or location
  • genre (fiction, poetry, drama, etc.)
  • time period
  • literary movement or theme
  • critical theory: New Criticism, Psychoanalysis,  Queer Theory, New Historicism, marxist criticism, feminist criticism, cultural studies, deconstruction, ecocriticism, phenomenology, postcolonial, postmodernism, structuralism, etc. These each may also be described as "....critical theory" or " ...isms"

Other useful Library of Congress Subject Headings may include: Literature - History and Criticism, Rhetoric, Deconstruction, Feminist Criticism, Formalism, and  Literary Analysis.

Electronic Books: 

From Bookstores: Order books online from Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble.

Interlibrary Loan : If we do not own a particular book or article you need, we will borrow it for you from another library through Interlibrary Loan.

Reference Resources

Reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries and other materials you use to "refer" to. Use these resources for background information on a topic.


  • Literature Criticism Online - Find literary criticism and information on authors from several Gale resources. Includes:Children's Literature Review, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, Contemporary Literature Criticism, Literature Criticism 1400-1800, Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism, Shakespeare Criticism, Short Story Criticism, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Available from 2010 (Beginning dates vary).
  • Literature Resource Center - The Literature Resource Center database includes Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography and other materials. It provides access to biographies, bibliographies and critical analysis of over 90,000 authors from every age and literary discipline. Search by Author Name, Title, Genre, Literary Movement or Literary Themes. A great place to start any literature research project or paper.
  • Biography Reference Bank - More than 46,000 full-text profiles of authors, artists, prizewinners, politicians, world leaders, musicians and more. Covers the Ancient World to the present.


Listed below are some selected examples. Use the catalog or browse the shelves, under the PN to PT call numbers, to see many more reference books (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, guides, companions, concordances, thesauri, etc.) on literature and literary criticism.

  • American Writers (Supplement) - Stewart Library, Main level, REF PS129.A55
  • Benet's Readers Encyclopedia - Reference PN41.B4 1996
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism - Stewart Library, Main level, REF PN813.C6
  • Encyclopedia of the Novel - Reference PN41.E487 1998 V.1-2
  • Reference Guide to World Literature - Reference PN524.R44 1995 V.1-2
  • To find short stories, use the The Short Story Index  on  Reference Table 3B - 1st Floor  (Ref Z5917.S5C6) - covers short stories written in or translated into English that have appeared in collections and selected periodicals from 1950 to 1999. Search by author, title or subject.
  • Short Story Criticism (Ref PN 3321.S56) provides selections of reviews on hundreds of short stories



There are several good sources for book reviews they include:

  • Book Review Digest - Reviews of fiction and nonfiction in magazines and journals.  Search by author and publication date to find review excerpts and references to reviews in other publications. In print format back to 1905.
  • Books in Print with Reviews  - Some full text reviews. 
  • - Search for a book by author or title, scroll down to see both editorial reviews and review excerpts from major publications and customer reviews from interested readers.
  • The New York Times Book Reviews - Search the books archive for full text book reviews and news since 1996.  Also online through LexisNexis back to June 1980, and on microfilm as part of the Sunday issue of New York Times
  • The New York Review of Books - Over 20 full text reviews and article from each issue are available online. Also includes the complete table of contents for each issue and an excellent searchable archive. 
  • Atlantic Monthly - Search and view full text of back issues of The Atlantic Monthly that have appeared on the Web. From November, 1995, to the present.
  • Use the Theatre Research Guide to find play reviews and the Film Research Guide for movie reviews
  • All of the article databases below can also be used to find book, short story, movie and play reviews and critical articles. 

Finding Articles


To find articles on your topic you need to use article databases, also known as periodical indexes. Each database usually covers a group of subject related journals. Search by subject or keyword in these indexes. Use the subject searching tips described above. For home or off campus access use your student ID number.

  • MLA - MLA International Bibliography is usually the best index for researching literature and literary criticism topics. MLA provides article reference for articles in literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore back to 1963. Updated ten times per year.
  • Arts & Humanities Search - Citations from many of the world's leading arts and humanities journals. 1980 - present, updates weekly. 
  • Academic Search Premier - Provides some full text articles in over 4600 magazines and journals  
  • Lexis/Nexis Academic  - Full-text coverage of many newspapers from across the US and around the world.
  • Education Databases (EbscoHost) - includes ERIC
  • Education Full Text
  • IIPA -- International Index to Performing Arts - Citations, abstracts and some full-text articles on all aspects of the performing arts including plays and playwrights.
  • JSTOR - Full text articles from scholarly journals in the field of language and literature
  • Masterplots - 12,000 entries covering world literature, ancient to modern day. Plot summaries, character profiles and author biographies. In Stewart Library use Ref Station #33. Ask for CD at Reference Desk. 


Current magazines and journals on literature and literary criticism can be browsed in the Current Periodicals Area, in the "P" section on the Main level. Bound volumes of older issues are found upstairs in the periodicals stacks.


The library subscribes to many electronic journals in literature including:

Web Resources

Here are some WWW sites to get you started. Most of these will take you to other links, so explore!



Research Tips

Updated January 5, 2011.
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