Literature, Creative Writing, & Literary Criticism: Home
This guide covers finding literature in English (poetry, drama, and fiction)/creative writing resources and literary criticism resources at the OSU Library, primarily British, American, and other English-language literatures, though many of the resources can be used to research foreign language literatures as well. It also covers interdisciplinary arts and humanities research, mainly with a literary focus.
For research help and information on Library resources for the other programs offered by the OSU English Department (Linguistics/TESL, Rhetoric & Professional Writing, and Screen Studies) please consult the tabs on the general English Department guide.
For information on finding foreign language texts, literature, and literary criticism in languages other than English, please consult the Foreign Languages and Literature Department research guide.
For an overview of the historical primary text/e-book database collections at the OSU Library, see the Historical E-Books/Digital Collections ressearch guide.
Overview on Literary Criticism
Literary criticism, sometimes called "secondary criticism" or "secondary texts," is interpretation or commentary on a literary author (poet, novelist, playwright, etc.) or on his or her literary works, what are usually called "primary texts." Criticism is found in books, essays in book collections or reference books (encyclopedias or guides), and articles in scholarly journals.
Book reviews, in contrast, are generally short evaluative articles about literary works that come out after books are first published; they are usually brief assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the book, but are not detailed interpretive discussions. Journals publish book reviews of secondary scholarly books. For help finding book reviews, see the Finding Book Reviews guide.
To find criticism on an author/literary work, you should first determine if the author is a living author and if the author is a major writer (i.e., who has had much criticism written about his or her works). Some will not have full articles of literary criticism about their works, only brief book reviews (which generally come out when the book is first published).
Well-known authors from literary periods before the twentieth century are more likely to be covered in books, book essays, and journal articles, though more contemporary authors or lesser-known authors will have more criticism about their works in journal articles. Some of these sources will be available electronically in Library databases. If you do not know much about the author, start with an entry about the author one of the reference books to give you a biography and general overview of their literary work, and the period in which they wrote/are writing.
Use the tabs above for detailed information on searching for literary criticism from books, reference books, and journal articles.