Online Literary Criticism Guide
Good literary criticism can be one of the hardest kinds of information to find on the Internet. Although there are many sources of online author information, it can often be difficult to find authoritative and critical works.
To help you find the best information, we’ve collected some of the best starting places for finding online critical writing. This resource is particularly good for finding information on English-language authors, but also includes many authors whose works have been translated into English.
If you find good guides to critical sites that we have missed, please let us know by using our Literary Criticism Feedback page.
Best Starting Places
Internet Public Library Literary Criticism Collection
The Literary Criticism Collection brings together hundreds of critical and biographical sites with annotations. It is international in scope, but emphasizes authors from North America, the British Isles, and the former British Empire. The collection is arraged by author, title, and nationality/literary period.
Browse or search this comprehensive site by author name to find short biographies and links to additional web resources. Covers a wide range of authors from all literary periods.
Literary Resources on the Net
This is a searchable and comprehensive guide to author information with more critical links than most other sites.
Shmoop provides easy to understand, fun study guides for literature, poetry, and US History. Also provides tips for writing papers.
Voice of the Shuttle: Web Page for Humanities Research
The Voice of the Shuttle is a very comprehensive index to online information about authors, but there is little actual criticism mixed in among the online texts and links to other information about the authors. Despite this limitation it is a very useful starting place, especially since much of the criticism is labelled as such. Sections of the site which may prove particularly useful include:
- Classical Studies
- Literature in English
- Literatures (Other Than English)
- Literary Theory
Other Useful Starting Places
Literature, Arts and Medicine Database
This database contains commentary on literature that deals with medical and psychological issues. While this may sound like a peculiar topic, it does contain good criticism on a wider range of topics than you might imagine.
Modern American Poetry
Modern American Poetry is a collaborative effort that aims to provide “a single clearinghouse for some of the best criticism on the best poets of our time.” One can find biographical information, bibliographies, criticism, commentary, and links to online copies of works on major modern American poets.
The official website of the American Academy of Poets offers essays, interviews, extensive bios, online copies of poems, audio clips, internal links to related poets, selected bibliographies, and external links on more than 500 American poets
PAL: Perspectives in American Literature: A Research and Reference Guide
This detailed website is a guide to finding literary criticism and commentary about American authors. It is arranged by literary periods, and includes introductions and general bibliographies for each period.
Representative Poetry Online
This site is an online anthology of poetry, which also includes biographical information and criticism about many of the poets listed in it.
Voices from the Gaps Women Writers of Color
"An instructional World Wide Web site focusing on the lives and works of women writers of color." This is an excellent source for biographical information as well as bibliographies about North American women writers of many ethnic backgrounds. Some of the entries contain links to sites with critical articles.
Good Starting Places for Specific Time Periods
(in approximately chronological order)
Exploring Ancient World Cultures Essay Index
This index contains scholarly articles on ancient and medieval world cultures including the Near East, India, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Early Islam, and Medieval Europe. Many of the articles contain literary criticism.
This site offers biographical and critical essays on a range of authors from Medieval, Renaissance, and seventeenth century Europe. The essays themselves are written by a variety of people, many of whom are scholars in their field. The amount of documentation (bibliographies, footnotes, etc.) varies between essays.
Labyrinth: A World-Wide Web Server for Medieval Studies
Developed at Georgetown University, this site is a huge collection of resources about the Middle Ages and late antiquity, designed primarily for professors but useful for students as well. For example, if you search "Chaucer" on the site, you will get links to much useful information about Chaucer’s life and works, particularly the Canterbury Tales.
Early Modern Literary Studies
This is a good academic journal available in full text on the Internet. "Articles in EMLS examine English literature, literary culture, and language during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; responses to published papers are also published as part of a Readers’ Forum. Reviews evaluate recent work as well as academic tools of interest to scholars in the field." The journal also evaluates useful web sites.
The Gothic: Materials for Study
"The text of the project is divided into five sections, and each has an introductory page that can be accessed from the title page. Each section is then broken down into subtopics that include excerpts from both primary and secondary (critical) texts."
"This site is devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture. Romantic Circles is the collaborative product of an ever-expanding community of editors, contributors, and users around the world."
Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (RaVoN)
"Romanticism On the Net is a peer-reviewed electronic journal devoted to Romantic and Victorian studies." Includes articles, book reviews, and many recommended web sites.
Victorian Literature Overview
The site includes a timeline, authors, discussion of the literary canon, literary techniques, genres and modes, Victorian serials, and literary convergences.
The Modern Word
A web site which provides biographical and critical essays, bibliographies, and links relating to experimental twentieth century authors, such as Pynchon, Kafka, and Joyce.