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Literary Theory and Criticism

Reference and Other Books

Reference Books

The following reference book can be accessed online through OneSearch, or you can just click on the link below.

Castle, Gregoy. The Literary Theory Handbook.  West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Web.

      This handbook is divided into four main "sections":  The first two chapters are familiar, in that their contents and the way they are organized, are often represented in handbooks and anthologies of criticism that aim for broad coverage.  The Rise of Literary Theory focuses on a history of theory,.The Scope of Literary Theory concentrates on types and branches of theories.  The handbook succeeds in being inclusive, but doesn't explore either the historical periods or individual theories in as much depth as other books.  The third section, Key Figures in Literary Theory, is more noteworthy.  Although, biographical sketches of the critics are brief, the number of critics grouped together, as well as the critical perspectives they represent, is thought-provoking.  The fourth section, Reading with Literary Theory, demonstrates the application of theory, but in a very limited and topical way.

These books, found in our print collection, provide good overviews of literary criticism and the history of literary theory.  Do a title search in OneSearch to pull up location information and availability.

Leitch, Vincent B. American Literary Criticism since the 1930's. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Columbia University Press, 2010. Print.

      In a series of articles, this book provides the reader with a history of literary criticism that begins with Marxist Criticism after the Great Depression. 
It investigates certain early movements in more depth than is often found in other books or anthologies. For example, two chapters are dedicated to describing the seperate identities of The New York and Chicago Schools of critics.  Another chapter investigates Myth Criticism, which  had its heyday between the forties and sixties. The last chapter of the book, American Criticism Since 1987, shows the way post-millenial criticism, in all its many subdivisions, is connected to the culture wars and other critical breaks of the 1980's.

Leitch, Vincent B., Gen. Ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.       

         The Norton Anthology is an anthology of criticism. It is organized chronologically, by author's birthdate, beginning with Gorgias of Leontini (ca. 483-376 B.C.E.) and ending with Judith Halberstam (b.1961).  However,  it also has as extensive alternative table of contents, cross-referencing authors by the following categories: Modern and Contemporary Schools and Movements, Genres, Historical Periods, Issues and Topics. The Introduction provides a substantial overview of the history of literary theory and criticism (thirty three pages).

Levander, Caroline E. and Robert S. Levine, eds.  A Companion to American Literary Studies.  West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print. 

         This books of original essays breaks from other books and anthologies in the way it's organized.  Instead of grouping essays and articles by time period or theme, it gathers them under the ambiguous headings of Forms, Spaces, and Practices. Although essays reference older literary works, the thrust of the book is forward - on the advanciung edge of American Literary Studies.  The essays in Forms focuses mainly on the aesthetics of literature. In Spaces, they question the relevance of national literature by looking at geographies and temporalities.  In Practices, essays addresses the emerging subfields of literary studies, including disability studies, post humanism, race studies, etc...

Richter, David H. Ed. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007. Print.

         The first part of this book, focusing on classic texts, presents a history of criticism through writings that span the classical and contemporary eras; the second, and much longer, section of the book focuses on contemporary criticism and is subdivided into different critical movements.  In the first part, critical writings are preceded by a biographical sketch of the author, with a focus on her contributions to literary criticism and an explanation of the text at hand.  In the second part, an essay introduces each new critical movement, while biographical information about the authors (critics) are much more curtailed.  The preface of this book is a essay on contemporary criticism since the sixties - breaking it up into three seperate waves - and is somewhat told from the author's  perspective.

A Sampling of Journals

Here are just a few journals wihich exploring literary theory and criticism specifically, or criticism in general. The University Library has a current subscription to all of them.  You can read current articles, browse the journals ' archives, or even search these journals individually for articles.  Searching the databases, like MLA, allows you to search multiple journals at once, so of course, it's usually more time efficient than searching one journal at a time.

American Literature



Essays in Criticism

Forum for Modern Language Studies

Modern Language Quarterly

Mosaic:A Journal for the Interdisicplinary Study of Literature

Narrative Inquiry

New Literary History


Yale Journal of Criticism

This LibGuide, Literary Theory and Criticism, was created by Maria Kochis and first published on November 5th, 2013.