The Oxford English Dictionary defines literary criticism as "the art or practice of judging and commenting on the qualities and character of a literary work; consideration or analysis of a text in relation to language, structure, biography, history, etc., or (in later use, freq. with modifying word) by a particular philosophical, political, or linguistic method; (also) an instance of this, esp. in a written form; a school or method of criticizing literature."
You can find literary criticism in both books and scholarly journals. To search the library catalog do a key word search for author, title, and or themes/subjects of what you want to write about. Look at individual records and try to refine your search by locating subject terms with the word "criticism" or other subjects that might help you further your research.
A good place to search for scholarly articles is Literature Online (LiOn) as it is devoted to literature and criticism. It contains records for the MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) and the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL). LiOn also links to articles from Project MUSE and JSTOR.
To search LiOn go to the Criticism link on the database's home page. Then select the "All Criticism." Start your search with key words and possibly a subject like a title. Try various searches until you get results you can use. You may also want to limit the publication date, source type, and whether or not you only want to view records with full text. If you do not limit to full text you may need to use Interlibrary Services (directions on the right). If you need more help with searching try the Help link in the upper right corner or contact a librarian.
A great place to start is with a search in the Meriam Library Catalog for your subject. Use key words and then refine your search based on the information contained in the records. For example the subject in the catalog for American Indians is" Indians of North America" not "Native Americans" or "American Indians." Clicking on the link will take you to more books on the subject.
You can also search databases. Start with the Discovery database (Search Everything box) as it compiles records from several of the main history databases including America: History & Life. Again you will need to refine your search by thinking of synonyms and looking at the records for other key words to use in your search. Look under the Searching Articles/Databases tab for more information on how to better refine your search.
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