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Starting Points

This guide describes how to find literary criticism of specific authors or works at Healey Library. Depending upon when the author lived one or more of these sources can be a good starting point.

Gale Literary Criticism Series

These are multi-volume print reference works. For each author, they include a biographical introduction, a list of principal works, sources for further study, as well as the full text or excerpts of critical essays. All of them can be found on the reference shelves on the 4th floor of Healey Library. Use the index in the last volume of each series to find a particular author.

Contemporary Literary Criticism

  • Covers authors who are living or died after 1959
  • Call number PN771 .C59

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism

  • Covers authors who lived between 1900 and 1999
  • Call number PN771 .T85

Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism

  • Covers authors who lived between 1800 and 1900
  • Includes criticism from the 19th century as well as more recent criticism
  • Call number PN761 .N5

Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800

  • Authors who lived between 1400 and 1800 (except Shakespeare, who gets his own series at call number PR2965 .S43)
  • Includes criticism from first publication to the present
  • Call number PN86 .L53

Critical books

Many authors have entire books written about them and their works.

  • To find books about a particular author, do a subject (not author) search in UMBrella using the author's name, last name first (e.g. Faulkner, William). 


For many significant authors, one or more books have been published that attempt to list all known criticism. They have titles such as William Faulkner: An Annotated Checklist of Criticism, or J.M. Synge: A Bibliography of Criticism. Healey Library has many of these books on the reference shelves on the 4th floor; their call numbers all begin with "P".

  • To find these books, do a search for the author as described above under Critical Books. Look in the results for a subject containing the word "bibliography" (e.g. "Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 Bibliography").

In-Depth Searching

The above sources are a good place to start, and often suffice to find good critical writing on an author or work. But if you fail to find what you need in them, or want to find even more, there are plenty of other places to look.

Critical Survey of Poetry

  • Multi-volume printed book found on the 4th floor (reference section) of the library. - Call number PR 502.C85 1982.
  • Covers major English-language poets from all periods.
  • For each poet, includes very brief biographical information, bibliography, and original signed critical essay.

The Explicator Cyclopedia

  • Multi-volume printed book found on the 4th floor (reference section) of the library. - Call number PR 401.E9.
  • Collection of brief essays on individual poems taken from the Explicator magazine (through 1962).
  • More recent essays from The Explicator can be found online in Academic Search Complete.
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