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Becker: Early British Lit- Grade 12- Beowulf: Literary Criticism 101

What is Literary Criticism?

"Literary criticism is the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of literary works. There are many types of literary criticism: some examples include historical criticism (understanding of the time period in which the novel is set) and biographical criticism (explains how the novel is based on the life of the author along with events that mirror Fitzgerald's life). Character studies involve the in-depth analysis of the characters in the novel. Please note that Literary criticism is NOT necessarily negative---criticism involves looking at both the positive and negative qualities." 

(Sources: Internet Public Library & St. Mark's School of Texas)


Off the Grid: Searching Google

BE may run into TONS of Spark Note-like sites. You may NOT use these sources, or you will have automatically committed plagiarism! Use search for premium results!

If, at some point during your research, you decide to look for sources not included on the research guide:  

  • Limiting your search to just gatsby OR can help filter out information you don't want to you use. Google also offers an "advanced search". Try Google Scholar
  •  A USA Today article does not carry the same weight as a New York Times article; choose your sources carefully.
  • Can you answer the following questions? 
    • Who are the authors/publishers, and why do you believe they are reliable?
    • What is the relevance of this information to my topic?
    • When was this information published?  Is there more current information available?
    • Where does this source gets its information, does it have a bibliography of sources?
    • Why does this source exist?  What is the point of view I should be aware of?

These are a few of the questions we use when selecting a resource for this guide, and  you are expected to adhere to these same high standards.‚Äč

Keep in mind that your teacher can quickly form an opinion about your work based on the sources you used.  

Finding Articles with Literary Criticism

"Literary criticism can be published as journal articles or full-length books. In general, it is the peer-reviewed work of scholars who discuss a particular text or texts, including fiction, poetry, plays, films, and other works. A work of literary criticism differs from a book review in that it is typically a more in-depth critique of a work, and it's most often intended for an academic audience."

(excerpt from LibGuides CCSU,

When searching a database, use the title of the work and/or author's name, and a theme as your keywords

ex. The Great Gatsby American Dream