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What is a Critic?
Critics are considered experts in their field. Here are a few guidelines that qualifies someone as an expert:
- A person that has a degree in their field (in most cases this will be a Ph.D.)
- A person that continually studies and publishes about aspects in their field
- Opinions and ideas expressed in publications are supported by research or evidence
- Publications by this person are published scholarly articles and are peer-reviewed (checked for accuracy by other members in their field)
So then, what is criticism?
- Who: Articles written by critics or experts in the field
- What: Articles examine a topic very closely. They often attempt to interpret or find meaning in a text, work of art, piece of music, etc.
- How: Critics use examples from primary sources to prove their argument. They often use secondary sources (articles by other critics) to further support their argument or thesis.
- Why: Stories, art, music, etc. rarely has one concrete meaning. There can be several ways to consider a topic. Criticism then, is articles that are proposing new ways to interpret a topic. This interpretation could use historical events, specific ideas in their discipline, biographical information about the creator, new evidence uncovered about a topic (a painting for example), etc. Because there are so many outside events that influence a creation of art, there can be lots of articles on one particular topic.
- Use the exact title of the poem.
- Put titles and genre searches in "quotes." This will ensure that the database is finding the entire phrase and not just individual words mentioned in the title. For example, "Things Fall Apart" or "postcolonial literature."
- Generic name? Try searching for title and author. A well-known character might work too.
- Not able to find anything by searching for title? Try expanding your search and looking for the author or the literary period associated with your work. You may be able to find information about your particular work within a source that talks about the author or period in general.
Finding an article full-text from a citation
- Determine what kind of source it is. Is it a book chapter? A journal article? (Easiest way to do this is to look for a volume or issue number. Then you know it's a journal article!)
- If it is a book, look in the catalog to see if we own it. If we don't, you need to Interlibrary Loan it. Do so by checking the "Libraries Worldwide" link on the left, and clicking "Request Copy."
- If it is an article, use the Journal List to search for the journal title to see which database it is in. If we don't own it, use Find It to request the title. If it's not in a database, use Interlibrary Loan to request the article.
Finding Literary Criticism - Suggested Databases
A humanities-focused database. There are also some film and performing arts articles included too. The advanced search feature makes searching simple.
Another general database. This doesn't have subject headings and only searches full-text. The more words you search the fewer results you'll get.
Academic Search Premier
A general catch-all database for all topics. A good place to start, but don't forget it has a lot of non-scholarly stuff in it.
This database is great for film/movie topics. It's also a pretty decent general humanities one.
Don't forget, you may not need to use the whole book. Want to use just a chapter? Let us scan it for you. Fill out this form and bring it and the book up to the front (circulation) desk and we'll scan it and email it to you.
Where do I find these books in the library?
Once you find a book in the catalog, you need to look at 3 different things to figure out where to find the book.
First: Look at the status (in the blue box)--Is your book Available or Checked out?
Second: Determine what collection (in the purple box)--Which floor is the book on?
Third: Write down the call number (in the green box)--This call number is like the book's address. You need the whole thing.
This book is in the Circulating Collection on the third floor. You know it's the third floor and not the first floor because the Call Number starts with ND which is between L-Z, not A-K.
This book is on the first floor in the Reference Collection. This means it's on the short shelves on the first floor near the reference desk. It also means you cannot check it out, or take it from the building.