Quick Guide to Literacy Criticism

The selected reference works in this handout are those limited to the University Library collection which provide guidance to sources of literary criticism. Please note: This is an abbreviated bibliography. For a more extensive bibliography in literary criticism, please refer to the University Libraries handout, Literary Criticism: A Selective Bibliography.

General Works

Dictionary of Literary Biography [DLB]. (Ref PS 129 D53x)( Detroit: Gale, 1978-. Critical bio-bibliographies of English, American, and Commonwealth writers grouped by period, genre, or movement. Following each article is a list of primary works and a bibliography of scholarship and criticism. Yearbooks are published annually (1980-) and contain updates of previously included authors and new authors. Use index of most recent yearbook to find a particular author.

Literary Criticism Series (Gale)

The following four series all use a standard format. Biographical sketches of each author and lists of principal works are followed by extensive excerpts from criticism arranged chronologically. Each entry concludes with a bibliography. There are cumulative author and nationality indexes in the back of each volume.

  • Literature Criticism from 1400-1800. [LC] (Ref PN 86 L53) Detroit: Gale, 1984-. Includes novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers and other creative writers. Cumulative title index in the back of each volume.
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. [NCLC] (Ref PN 761 N5) Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981-. Includes authors who died between 1800 and 1899. Includes several "Topics" volumes. Separate cumulative title index.
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. [TCLC] (Ref PN 771 G27) Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1978-. Covers authors who lived between 1900 and 1960. This series also contains "Topics" volumes. Separate cumulative title index.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism. [CLC] (Ref PN 771 C58x) Detroit: Gale Publishing Co., 1973-. Included are creative writers who are now living or who have died since 1960. Separate cumulative title index.

Magill, Frank Northen. Magill's Bibliography of Literary Criticism. 4 vols. (Ref PN 523 Z999 M35x) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. Criticism of all types of literature from biblical times to the present is covered. Each volume has an author-title index, plus a title index at the end of vol .4. Index arranged by author, then title.

Modern Language Association of America. MLA International Bibliography of Books and Articles on the Modern Languages and Literatures, 1921-25. (Ref Index PB 1 Z999 M53) NY: New York University Press, 1964-. From 1921-1955 limited to American scholarship. It now lists literary works by scholars of all countries. Includes, in addition to English and American literatures, Romance languages and literatures, Germanic, Oriental, and Eastern European. It is also available as an electronic database - 1963+.


Shakespearean Criticism. (Ref PR 2965 S43 1984) Detroit: Gale, 1984-. Provides overviews and critical interpretations of Shakespeare's plays and poems. Beginning with volume 11, eyewitness reviews, retrospective evaluations of individual productions, comparisons of major interpretations and discussions of staging issues are included (both stage and film versions are considered). An annual volume includes the most noteworthy essays published on Shakespeare during the previous year. Glossary and cumulative artist, topic and critic indexes.


Critical Survey Series

The following three sets, as well as the Critical Survey of Poetry in the poetry section, and the Critical Survey of Drama in the drama section, all use a standard format. All but the last volume of each set contain brief critical essays that examine the works and major themes of representative authors/poets/dramatists. The last volume in each set contains overview essays and an index.

  • Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Long Fiction: English Language Series. 8 vols. (Ref PR 821 C7 1983) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1983.
  • Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Long Fiction: Foreign Language Series. 5 vols. (Ref PN 3463 C75x 1984) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1984.
  • Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Short Fiction. 7 vols. (Ref PN 3321 C7 1993) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1993.

The arrangement of this set differs from the others. The first two volumes contain essays that deal with short fiction historically and critically. Volumes 3-6 contain critical treatments of 261 writers. Volume 7 contains 390 short articles on contemporary short fiction writers, and the index to the set.

Short Stories

Short Story Criticism. [SSC] (Ref PN 3373 S386) Detroit: Gale, 1988-. Presents significant passages from criticism of short story writers. Covers all nationalities and periods. Cumulative indexes to authors, nationalities, and titles in the back of each volume.

Electronic Resources

EBSCO Academic Search Complete

Scholarly, multidisciplinary, full text database covering 4,600+ social science, humanities, science and technology titles. 3,500+ titles are peer reviewed. 8,043 total titles indexed in database.

***Literature Resource Center

This resource focuses on undergraduate students and provides access to biographical, bibliographical, and critical analysis from the core sources Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, and Contemporary Literary Criticism, although additional Gale sources are represented. It includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, and journalism; and while it covers over 100,000 authors, 2500 of the most studied are covered in-depth. It contains 58,000 full-text articles, 400 plot summaries and explications, and 5,000 author-related websites. In addition, it includes a link to the full-text of Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, 1995.

***MLA Bibliography

Contains citations to literary documents pertaining to literature, language, linguistics and folklore. Provides access to journal articles, dissertations, monographs and series, 1963+.

***Highly Recommended

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