Journal Articles and Book Chapters
This page provides guidance when searching for journal articles and book chapters about literary criticism.
Keywords and search terms will form the backbone of your search process.
Take advantage of the special search options in our literary databases.
Journal articles and book chapters:
- often provide close analysis on topics like a particular character, theme, or theory from a work or by an author
- range from roughly 5 to 50 pages in length
- are sometimes cited in databases like Literature Resource Center, MLA, and Search It
- can be discovered by looking for books about a work, author, or genre; finding the book on the shelf; and looking at the table of contents
Most of our databases will have the full text of many of the articles and some of the chapters. When the full text isn't available, look for the Get-It button to see if we have access to the article or chapter through another database or in print on the shelf. If we don't you may request a copy of the article or chapter from another library through Interlibrary Loan.
How to Search for Journal Articles: Search Terms
Due to the number of articles and chapters published, you can be very specific in your search terms.
Searching only for the author or the title of a work will return an overwhelming list of results.
- Name of a work: The woman warrior: memoirs of girlhood among ghosts
- Author’s name: Kingston, Maxine Hong
- Theme: ghosts
- Critical perspective or theory: feminism
- Genre: autobiography
Use combinations of keywords like the above to create a focused search.
If your search does not return a lot of results, look for synonyms or umbrella terms. For instance:
Maxine Hong Kingston:
- Asian American
- Chinese American
- women writers
- women authors
Databases With Literacy Criticism
We subscribe to many databases for researchers in literature. The databases below are good starting points.
MLA International Bibliography is usually the first stop for literary researchers.
No one database covers every journal, so search in multiple databases.
MLA (Modern Language Association) International Bibliography (ProQuest Expires 2019)
Publication Dates Covered: 1926 - present Paid for by K-State Libraries
This is the largest and most comprehensive database for literary criticism in all languages. Also covers folklore, linguistics, and film studies. Includes journal and book articles, books, and dissertations. Does not index book reviews in literary journals.
ABELL (Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature)
Publication Dates Covered: 1920 - present Paid for by K-State Libraries
The Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature includes scholarly articles, books, and reviews pertaining to the English Language. First published in 1920 and maintained to the present date, it covers subject topics of drama, poetry, fiction, biography, literary theory, film, onomastics, lexicography, and dialectology. This product ideally complements the MLA Bibliography.
Diversity Database Suite
Paid for by K-State Libraries
Provides a combined search for Ethnic NewsWatch and Ethnic NewsWatch History which feature newspapers, magazines, and journals from ethnic and minority presses; GenderWatch which features historical and current perspectives of gender roles; and Alt-Press Watch which showcases some of the nation’s most respected and cited grassroots publications. Searches can be narrowed to peer-reviewed publications.
Paid for by K-State Libraries
A full-text collection of more than 550 core journals ranging from history to business to literature to science and mathematics. Coverage begins with the first issue of a title, but the most recent three to five years of each title are usually not available. The full article text is searchable.
Literary Sources (formerly Literature Resource Center)
Simultaneous users: 2 Paid for by K-State Libraries
Provides access to biographies, bibliographies, and critical analyses of authors from every age and literary discipline.
MLA International Bibliography: Search Tips
Below are two ways to search to increase the relevancy of your search results in MLA: use options on the Advanced Search screen and expand your search terms using the Thesaurus.
Advanced in this case means special search features for literary researchers, not that you have to be a literature expert. Advanced search features include searching by:
- Author as subject
Below is a screen shot of the Advanced Search screen, including the search options that appear when you click on the Anywhere option in the search boxes.
Use the Thesaurus to identify terms commonly used by literary researchers.
- appears as an option on the Advanced Search screen
- identifies alternative search terms, including broader, narrower, and related terms
Not all keywords will appear in the Thesaurus; not all terms in the Thesaurus will have alternative terms.
A sample Thesaurus search:
- Link to the Thesaurus from the Advanced Search page.
- Enter your keyword in the search term box. The image below shows a search for the keyword middle.
- All the subject terms that appear contain the word middle.
- Switch to subject terms that begin with middle by clicking the Begins with option under the search term box.
- Click on a subject term to open a new window.
Below is a screenshot of the Thesaurus screen that appears for the term African American middle class. Note that the Thesaurus offers two Broader Terms and one Narrower Term:
- Click the box to the left of any of the subject terms that you want to include in your search.
- Once you have selected all of the terms to include, click on the Add to search button at the bottom of the box, then Close.
- You will be returned to the Advanced Search screen with the new subject terms added.