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ENG 1002: Literary Criticism for Stories, Poems, and Plays: Home

Handout to accompany the ENG 1002 assignment involving research for short literary works (stories, plays, poems)


Choose Booth Catalog from the library’s home page.  Unless the short story, poem, or play you're looking for is very well known, you probably won’t find entire books written about it.  Instead, you may find mentions of critical articles about the work or author published in a collection. 

Search for works of literary criticism on the author by clicking on Advanced Search and typing keywords in the boxes as in the following examples.  Capitalization doesn’t matter when searching.

-->  If that doesn’t find enough, try searching on just the author’s name and “criticism.”

Then click Find to see the list of results.

From the result list, click on the book titles to see a full description.  Most of the books you find will be shelved in the same general area, in the stacks on the 1st floor.  You can consult those books (hint: look in their indexes) to see if information on the work you’re looking for is included in the book.

Criticism about Sandra Cisneros - search results
To expand your search to include books from 80+ other Illinois academic and research libraries, change the drop-down menu on the right from Local Catalog Only to All I-Share Libraries.


Gale Artemis Literary Sources contains the online versions of several large collections of literary criticism, including Short Story Criticism, Poetry Criticism, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.  From the library’s home page, you can find it by choosing Reference Resources, then Gale Artemis Literary Sources.

First, try an Advanced Search for the title of your story or poem and see if there’s a full article compiled about it.  Type the title in the "Name of Work" box to begin your search.  If this doesn't give you useful results, type the title in the Keyword box. This will broaden your search to look through the complete text of all articles within Gale Artemis Literary Sources.

Artemis Literary Sources search for "yellow wallpaper"

Print versions of these and other collections can be found on the 3rd (main) floor of the library in the reference section.  For all of these collections, look up the title of your story/poem/play in the index volume.
REF PN771 .C59                    Contemporary Literary Criticism (through 2013)
REF PN451 .D53x                   Dictionary of Literary Biography (through 2013)
REF PN 1625 .D72X                Drama Criticism
REF PN761 .N56                    Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism
REF PN1010 .P499                 Poetry Criticism (through 2013)
REF PN3373 .S386                 Short Story Criticism (through 2013)
REF PN771 .G27                   Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism


Electronic article databases can be found on the library home page by clicking on Databases from the "Articles" tab.  Literature databases can also be found, more directly, under “Literature/Drama” in the Research by Subject menu. 
Academic Search Complete (general academic articles)
Humanities International Complete (humanities, including literature, art, music)
MLA International Bibliography (literature and language)
Project MUSE (humanities, mostly)
JSTOR (humanities, social sciences, sciences)

Several of them that use the same EBSCOhost software (Academic Search Complete, Humanities International Complete, and MLA International Bibliography) can be searched simultaneously.

Searching MLA International Bibliography, Humanities International Complete, and Academic Search Complete:
These three databases use the same (EBSCO) search interface.

Search for the title of the work and the author, as in the following search using William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" as the example.  If the title of the work has more than one word, put it in quotes for the best results.

Click on the full-text links or on Get Full Textto see where else you can obtain a copy.
If the item you’re looking for is a book or book chapter instead of an article, do a separate Title search in the EIU Online Catalog for the book title.

Special note when searching for John Updike’s short story “A&P”:  The ampersand and letter A cause problems with searching in most databases.  To get around this issue, search MLA by itself, using these terms:  DE "'A & P'"
(DE double-quote single-quote A & P single-quote double-quote - or just copy and paste the terms above into a search box.)

Searching Project Muse:
Searches in Project Muse, a collection of electronic journals that covers many topics in the humanities, can be conducted similarly to how you search in MLA.  Everything in Project Muse is available in full-text.


You are asked to use MLA style to cite your sources for this assignment. If you use another style, you must be consistent with the style you choose.

Reference the Booth Library MLA Style handout for sample citation examples. The Purdue OWL website for MLA style provides more detail on this citation format.


If you need more help, please stop by the Reference Desk in person, call 217-581-6072, or ask us through Ask a Librarian, and a librarian will be happy to assist you.  
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