Skip to main content

ENGL 300 - Introduction to Theory and Criticism / Holl, Jennifer

About Literary Criticism

This guide provides introductions to literary criticism and the MLA International Bibliography, one of the most significant databases for exploring and accessing literary criticism.  

In literary studies, primary texts are original works of literature.

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison is an example of a primary text studied in English 300. 

Secondary texts are works that interpret and analyze primary texts. In literary studies, literary criticism is a form of secondary text.

  • Literary criticism presents an evaluation, explication, description, or interpretation of literary works.
  • Literary criticism is generally written by scholars in the form of academic journal articles, books, and book chapters. 
  • Book reviews written by journalists for popular media, such as broadcast, newspapers, and magazines, are not sources of criticism. 
  • Search article databases, such as the MLA International Bibliography and JSTOR, to find critical studies.
  • Here's an example of a critical article published in an academic journal:
    • Gardner, Renee Lee. “Subverting Patriarchy with Vulnerability: Dismantling the Motherhood Mandate in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 45, no. 1–4, Jan. 2016, pp. 203–214. doi:10.1080/00497878.2016.1149029.

Librarians for English

We are your librarians for research in the area of literary studies. Please don't hesitate to contact one of us to ask questions or schedule a research consultation.