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SUNY Erie Library Resource Center

EN112 Bollinger

A guide for students in EN112 showing library resources to support and enhance your coursework and academic experience

Literary Criticism

"2008 Frankfurter Buchmesse" by KJohansson licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

"Literary criticism” refers to the act of interpreting and studying literature.

A literary critic is someone who argues on behalf of an interpretation or understanding of the particular meaning(s) of literary texts. The task of a literary critic is to explain and attempt to reach a critical understanding of what literary texts mean in terms of their aesthetic, as well as social, political, and cultural statements and suggestions. 

An Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory


In this class Dr Bollinger has asked you to locate a scholarly article pertaining to a work of literature and analyze the literary theory applied to it.  You are then to summarize the content of the article and identify its strengths and weaknesses.  You are required to follow MLA formatting and citation style.  

How do you get started and where to find your article?

This research guide is designed to lead you through the process of finding literary criticism and includes tips for writing your analysis papers.  In this guide you will learn about:

  • Steps to help you develop and find resources for the assignment
  • Databases that provide access to literary journals, biographical information, plot summaries, overviews, book reviews, and critical materials about the literary work your have chosen
  • Information about literary theory and literary terms to help focus ideas  
  • Interlibrary loan to request resources not owned by the SUNY Erie libraries
  • Information on citation in MLA format.


Whether literary research is easy or hard very often depends on the topic or literary work you choose to analyze. The process does not have to be nerve-wracking or take forever. Here are some tips regarding topic selection to help make the research process stress-free:


It is easier to find criticism on works of authors from the past than on works by contemporary authors. It takes time for a body of critical writing about an author or literary work to grow.


It is easier, obviously, to find criticism on works by well-known authors than on works by those not so famous.


Larger works, like novels and plays, seem to attract more critical attention than individual short stories, essays, or poems.


Don't finalize your topic too soon. Consider two or three works of literature, do some quick, preliminary searching for each title in the tools introduced in this research guide, and choose the one on which you can find the most information most quickly.  


Unless, of course, an obscure work or work by a contemporary author is something you are passionately interested in. Then ignore Tips One through Four, and choose it.


This Erie Community College Research Guide is adapted from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries Literary Criticism Subject Guide licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0