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Hackney Library

WRT 102: Composition II

Online Literary Criticism Databases, Tips for Searching, and Sample Searches

This page contains a variety of databases in which you will find online literary criticism in journal articles, book chapters, and other information sources, generally from scholarly sources. 

  • The first batch of databases, "Multi-Discipline Databases for Literary Criticism,also contain other kinds of articles other than literary criticism, so pay attention to the tips and examples under each to see how to limit to literary critiques or criticism.
  • The second batch of databases, "Literature-Related Databases for Literary Criticism," focus exclusively on literary works and their critiques rather than also including other subjects like nursing, business, and the like.

Scroll down beyond the databases, and you'll see sample searches with screen shots from one of each of these kinds of databases.

Search Multi-Discipline Databases for Literary Criticism

The following databases include literary critiques (analyses of literature) among many other things in journal, magazine, and newspaper articles. To search them for literary critiques, search for the author/poet, and/or the title of that person's work, PLUS the term "criticism" or the term "interpretation."  (In some of these, you will need to limit to "peer reviewed," "scholarly," or "refereed" to find only journal articles.  In others, such as JSTOR,  they may contain only journal articles, and therefore there is no need to limit.) 

  • To limit to full-text articles, check the "full text" limit.
  • To limit to scholarly journal articles, check the "peer reviewed" or "refereed" or "academic journal" link
  •  See our Guide to the differences between Journal and Magazine articles.


In the Advanced search boxes at the top of the above databases, type in your terms in separate boxes on separate lines (e.g., Shakespeare in one, literary criticism in the next; or Shakespeare in one, interpretation in the next, or Romeo and Juliet in one, literary criticism in the next, or Romeo and Juliet in one, interpretation in the next).  

Search Literature-Related Databases for Literary Criticism

The following specialized databases focus on literature to the exclusion of other topics.  They contain journal articles, book chapters, and other kinds of scholarly examinations of literature, called literary critiques or literary criticism.


In the search boxes at the top, type in your terms in separate boxes on separate lines (e.g., Shakespeare in one, criticism in the next; or Shakespeare in one, interpretation in the next, or Romeo and Juliet in one,  criticism in the next, or Romeo and Juliet in one, interpretation in the next).  You may also want to search using a theme or character's name as well.

  • In the "Limit To" area in the left sidebar, check the "Full Text" box (to make sure you can see the entire chapter or article)
  • In the "Source Types" area in the left sidebar, check the "Literary Criticism" box
  • If you want to limit to scholarly articles, in the "Limit To" area in the left sidebar, check the "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" box
  • If you want to limit to reference books, in the "Source Types" area in the left sidebar, check the "Reference Books" box


  • Type in your terms on separate lines (Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet on one line and criticism or interpretation on another).  Remember that you can also search by theme or character as well.
  • In the "Limit To" area in the left sidebar, click on "Peer reviewed" to retain only scholarly journal articles.
  • In the "Limit To" area in the left sidebar, click on "Full text" to limit results to full text articles.
  • In the "Subject" area in the left sidebar, click on "literary criticism" to limit your results to critiques, interpretation, or analysis of the works in question.

Sample Search for Literary Criticism in a Multi-Subject Database

For this sample search, we will be using Academic Search Complete, which in addition to containing articles in magazines, newspapers, and journals on a number of other subjects, also contains journal articles with literary criticism/critiques of works of literature.

Search Academic Search Complete for Literary Criticism:

  • Click on the link for Academic Search Complete in the second box above to open the database.
  • Search on separate lines for "Tennessee Williams" (the author) and "Glass Menagerie" (the work)
  • ​​
  • Click on the "Full Text" Limit and the "Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals" Limit, both under "Limit Your Results" in the "Search Options" box.

  • Scroll down to the "Document Type" limit and scroll to find and click on the "Literary Criticism" limit

  • Scroll down or up and click "Search."
  • Your Search returned 11 results of literary criticism in journal articles; click on the title to #2:  "Tennessee William's Tom Wingfield and George Kaiser's Cashier: A Contextual Comparison."  See the detailed record for this article below:

Notice that in the above detailed record: 

  • the article title is circled in purple,
  • the author's name in aqua,
  • the Source (journal name, date of publication, volume and issue numbers, page number on which it starts, and length--23 pages) is circled in red
  • the Abstract (summary) in orange, and 
  • the PDF Full Text link in yellow

​Here's a link to the article; click on the PDF Full Text link to see the article itself:

As you scroll through the article, notice that:

  • It is quite lengthy 
  • There is a list of sources used by the author in the Works Cited list at the end of the article (circled in red).

To email the article to yourself in MLA style, click on the envelope icon in the sidebar (circled in green)

When you click on the Email envelope icon, you will see the following screen:

  • Your email address you send it to is circled in yellow
  • The subject you want to show in your inbox is circled in orange
  • The citation format where you select MLA Style is circled in purple
  • The Send button is circled in green

To see the MLA citation that the database creates for this article, click on the Paper icon (circled in orange in the far right corner below):

The MLA citation created for this work is as follows:

 Note that in this citation,

  • Everything looks fine except for the vendor, EBSCOhost, being put in place of the database name, so that should be Academic Search Complete instead.  It is correctly italicized.
  • Note that the URL in MLA style below omits the "http://" or the "https://" in any citation, as in this one (underlined in green below):





Sample Search for Literary Criticism in a Literature Database

For this sample search, we will be using Literary Reference Center Plus, which contains scholarly articles in journals, reference books, book chapters, and more focusing on works of literature, including literary criticism/critiques.

Search Literary Reference Center Plus for Literary Criticism:

Click on the link to the database in the box above.

Search (capitalization does not matter):

  • Tennessee Williams (the author) on the first line
  • glass menagerie (the work) on the second line
  • Amanda (one of the characters) on the third line

You can see that this search retrieved 9 items. 

Let's further limit to make sure that they are 1) Full Text; and 2) Literary critiques/criticism.  Do this by using the limits on the left sidebar of the search results screen under "Limit To" and "Source Types," respectively (circled in yellow below).  Now our search results are limited to 8 sources of literary criticism, many of which are from reference books that contain various articles or chapters:

We'll take a closer look at Citation #2:

When you click on the title in the results list, "The Glass Menagerie," it takes you to a more detailed record about this work; see the screenshot below:

Notice the following:

  • The article title is circled in aqua
  • The book title ("Source") is circled in yellow, and includes the title of the book (Master Plots), the edition (4th), the date of publication (November 2010), and the page numbers on which the article appears (p. 1-3)
  • The article author's name (L. Elisabeth Beattie) is circled in green
  • Subject terms that describe the content of this article are circled in orange
  • The link to the HTML Full Text (there is no PDF) is circled in red.  Click on it to read the text of the article, which includes a summary first, then a brief analysis of the characters, including Amanda, and themes in the play.

The article includes references under the "Further Reading" heading:


You can email the full text of the article to yourself with the Envelope icon in the "Tools" box on the right sidebar (circled in yellow) :

The MLA Citation the database creates (you can see it in the "Cite" icon, pictured above) looks like this:

Note that everything looks pretty good, except for the database vendor, ESBCOhost (circled in red above), being included, rather than the database name:  Literary Reference Center Complete.  That would need to be fixed.  Don't just copy and paste without double-checking the citation!

Also, the link to the article, as always in MLA style, lops off the http:// or https:// in the citation (underlined in green above.