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Finding Literary Criticism Tutorial: IV. Literary Criticism on the Web

Finding Reliable Resources

In most cases, books and articles in scholarly journals (print or electronic) are more appropriate than Collage of Several Search Engine Logosgeneral web sources for Literary Criticism research.  

  • Some free websites are high-quality, but some are not.
  • It can be hard to tell if information on the free web is up-to-date, complete, written by experts, and unbiased.
  • You should fact-check any information found on the free web before using it as a reference source in your assignment.

Suggested Resources

The following websites are free and generally considered to be of good quality:

  • The Internet Public Library Literary Criticism Collection contains critical and biographical information about authors and their works that can be browsed by author, by title, or by nationality and literary period.
  • Bartleby provides the full text of original works of fiction, nonfiction, and verse--along with criticism--as well as popular reference books.
  • The Internet Library of Literary Scholarship is a collection of "reputable reference materials on canonical English and American writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including peer-reviewed critical articles, books, and biographies."

These are some poetry organization websites with author information, full texts of works, and criticism:  

Complete Works

The full text of many works of literature that are in the public domain (not protected by copyright) can be read for free online with no special access required.  Here are a few suggested places to find them:

Project Gutenberg is an online library of free eBooks.  Read the full text of the world’s great literature, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.

The Internet Classics Archive contains 441 works of classical literature by 59 different authors, mainly Greco-Roman (some Chinese and Persian), all in English translation.

The Literature Network includes the full, searchable text of over 3500 full books and over 4400 short stories and poems by over 260 authors.

The Anthology of Middle English literature, 1350-1485 includes material by and about Chaucer, Gawain, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, and Malory, plus Medieval plays and lyrics. 

Renascence Editions is a collection of online works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799.

Need Shakespeare?  Go to

Works of Literary Criticism in the public domain (available to read in their entirety for free online):

  Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1817

  Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold, 1869

Video: Databases vs. the Internet

Watch the video below to learn why you should use library databases for your research instead of information found on the free web.  From our friends at Yavapai College Library.

About Google Scholar...

Google Scholar is a tool that can be used to search for freely available books, articles, and other types of resources online.  It can be hard to tell which resources on Google Scholar are "peer reviewed."  Check with your instructor to see if this is an acceptable resource for your assignment.  

If you can't find an article in full text in the library databases, you can try searching for it in Google Scholar.  If the article you want is not available in either place, you can request it using interlibrary loan.

External Links

The following resources elaborate further on Literary Criticism:

For even more information, you might find An Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory by the Saylor Foundation helpful.

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