Monday, October 31, 2005

Literary Criticism (Reference Resources Spotlight)

Literary criticism provides you with critical commentary and background information on authors, their works, and major themes in literature. The Library owns three literary criticism series that cover different time periods.

Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (REF PN761 .N5) covers authors of the nineteenth century, including poets, novelists, playwrights, and philosophers of the period. Every fourth volume of this set focuses on a specific literary topic including movements, themes, reaction to historical events, significant eras, and the literature of overlooked cultures. Topics from the most recent volume include: censorship of the press in 19th century, the new woman in the 19th century, and 19th century western literature in Japan.

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (REF PN94 .T83) covers critical interpretation of authors who died between 1900 and 1999. Every fourth volume focuses on specific themes. Topics from the most recent volume include: angry young men, depictions of Islam in modern literature, and futurism.

Contemporary Literary Criticism (REF PN771 .C59) covers authors who are living or who died after December 31, 1999. (Note: From 1973-1999 this set included authors who died after December 31, 1959).

Using literary criticism is easy.
  1. If your author is still alive, start with Contemporary. If your author is dead, when did he/she die? Pick Nineteenth or Twentieth based on the year of the author's death.
  2. Use the Author Index in the back of the most recent volume in the Reference collection. The index is cumulative and will cross-reference to other volumes in other series.
  3. Find the volume(s) given in the index
  4. Locate the analysis of the author, work, or topic in the volume(s) and read the critical commentary.
  5. Use what you have learned to write your paper based on your professor's instructions.
  6. Remember to cite your sources! Each volume includes examples of how to create reference citations based on using the literary criticism sets.