Skip to Main Content


Your Librarian

Profile Photo
Amandajean Nolte
LIB 370

ENGLISH 2120: Critical Writing About Literature

Literary criticism is the evaluation, comparison, analysis, or interpretation of literary works. Criticism may examine the themes in the work, look at the author's writings as a collection, analyze a work through a particular lens or school of thought, or compare works of the same theme, genre, time period, etc.). 

NOTE: A book review is different from literary criticism. Book reviews summarize the book and give the reviewer's opinion on whether the book is worth reading. Authors of book reviews can intend them for a general or an academic audience.

Helpful hint

Do some preliminary searching before settling on your topic. 

  • Works of authors from the past are often easier to find than contemporary authors. It takes time to create this type of scholarship, especially if the writer is looking at the entirety of an author's work.
  • The more well-known the author, the more likely scholars have something to say about them. Be sure to consider the implications of about whom a culture deems essential to write. This centering will tell you something about whose voices are privileged as worthy of study.

Locating General Sources

Because you each will be focusing on topics of particular interest to you, it will be essential to consider what disciplines experts may be discussing your topic.

First steps

The library catalog can be a great first step for searching. It contains all of our physical collections and much of our digital. It is multidisciplinary and contains many source types. Because it searches so many places, however, you will likely want to utilize the filters to narrow your search and make it more relevant. 

Second steps

Once you've played around in OneSearch, you might find there is a disciplinary area you want to dive more into researching. Consider looking at our list of databases by subject area and dive into a more focused search.

Locating Specific Sources

The Call of the Wild is written by Jack London. It is considered a classic and has received many accolades (this is not without some controversy, including facing being banned in some countries). It has also been adapted into many mediums over time. It offers many exciting themes to explore and analyze! 

Physical copies

Available in library stacks. Books are shelved by topic, so browsing the area might be of interest!

Online copies

This text is in the public domain, so you can find lots of freely available copies online.

Great place to start, if you need introductory information, definitions, or are looking for ideas to help you focus your topic. 

Physical resources

map of Rod Library 3rd Floormap of Rod Library 4th Floor

Available in library stacks. Books are shelved by topic, so browsing the area might be of interest once you find one relevant item!

For example, if I were researching Jack London's Call of the Wild. I might look up such phrases as

  • "Klondike Gold Rush"
  • Darwin AND "natural selection"
  • native AND Yukon
  • "19th Century" AND "transportation"

Online resources

Locating scholarly articles or news on the context in which your text was published can offer insight into your understanding of the story.

Scholarly Articles


Books and Book Chapters

Tips for searching the library catalog, OneSearch

  1. Start with an Advanced Search.
  2. Two options (try both)
    • Search the author's name as a Subject. Examples: "London, Jack"
    • Enter your author's name and add criticism. "Jack London" AND criticism 
  3. Peruse the results. Consider further narrowing using filters or additional keywords.
    • More popular and well-known authors may have the option to narrow by the Subject Criticism and Interpretation.
    • Narrow by "Peer-reviewed Journals" or "Books" to focus on specific Source Types.

Some books are available in library stacks, and books are shelved by topic, so browsing the area might be of interest once you find one relevant item! Others are available as eBooks. If you have trouble accessing either, do not hesitate to reach out for support.

map of Rod Library 3rd Floormap of Rod Library 4th Floor

Scholarly Articles

OneSearch searches many (although not all) of the library's databases. It's a great place to start, but do not be afraid of jumping into individual databases for more comprehensive results.

Article searching often requires a narrow search with multiple terms to get the information you want. Consider searching for the author AND criticism OR analysis AND the title of the work. Once you have an idea of what is out there, you might also add another search term related to the theme or lens you are analyzing.

For example: "Jack London" AND (criticism OR analysis) AND "Jack London" AND naturalism

Not fully indexed in OneSearch

OneSearch will pull MUCH of this content