Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

English: which resources do I use?: Criticism and commentary

Unsure which resources to use for your English module or piece of research? This guide will point you in the right direction.


You may find some of these books useful. See your reading list for the required and recommended reading for your module.


Use the resources below to find commentary, criticism, summary, analysis, interpretation or review of literary works from any period or movement.

See the guides on this page for help with searching these resources.

ProQuest One Literature - Literature Online

It has been designed as the foremost platform for conducting Literary Research and incorporates Literature Online.

It contains 3 million literature citations from thousands of journals, monographs, dissertations, and more than 500,000 primary works – including rare and obscure texts, multiple versions, and non-traditional sources like comics, theatre performances, and author readings. 

Enter your terms into the search box, e.g. romanticism AND byron.

Your results are displayed divided into content type.

For example, if you would like to locate the works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Select Author Pages option from above the search box

Enter Geoffrey Chaucer in the search box this should give search options as shown below. Select "Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400" or select the Go Directly to option.


The Author Pages provides a short biography of the author, links to the primary texts, recent criticism, criticism over time and reference works. 

For example, you are searching for texts related to war and death that were published between WW1 and WW2.

  • Select Primary Texts from the left hand side tab under
  • Enter war and death in the Key words in text box and search.
  • To restrict to the date range fill in the publication dates on the left hand side as shown below.
  • Enter 1914 in the Publication Date: From box.
  • Enter 1945 in the Publication Date: To box.
  • Click Update

The Texts list of results page will be displayed, listing the author, the title of the work containing the selected words and  the line(s) containing the words.

For example, you are looking for occurrences of the word "jealousy" Literature Online will include old spellings as well for many keyword.

You can see the variants of Jealousy highlighted below:

For example, you are searching for reference material on the works of Scott Fitzgerald.

  • Select: Reference Works
  • Enter Fitzgerald, Scott into the Subject box.
  • Click Search.

The results list will display all relevant materials.

For example, you would like to hear Jayne Cortez reading her own works.

  • Scroll down to the Poets on Screen Collection and select it.
  • Search for Jayne Cortez in the search box.
  • Click on "The Guitars I used to know." You can now watch the video.


Or, you would like to listen to a Shakespearean Play.

  • Scroll down to the Shakespeare Audio Plays Collection and select it.
  • Select Shakespeare Audio Plays.
  • Under browse specific issues select 2003
  • Click on "Loves Labor Lost"

Here you can listen to the full play or select the relevant act.

For example, you are interested in learning more about poet Ezra Pound and hope to locate some of his poems.

  • Select the Author Pages from the search options above the search box.
  • Type in Pound Ezra and this should give option below for Pound, Ezra 1885-1972 and search.
  • Then select the Author page result.
  • At the bottom of the profile, you can access Primary Text, Recent Criticism, Criticism Over Time and Relevant Reference Works.


JSTOR is a valuable research resource for secondary resources.  You can use it to search and find the full text of published books and journal articles.

Use the How to Search JSTOR LibGuide for an introduction to the service or take a look at JSTOR's Vimeo channel for educational and instructional videos. 

Enter your search

You can use the Basic search box that appears at login.

Alternatively, select the Advanced Search option for additional options.

The example below shows a basic search for book and article content that includes reference to marlowe and shakespeare and ambiguity

View your search results

You can refine your results if you find too many as a result of your initial search.

You may find it useful to select the Show Snippets option. This will highlight the appearance of your search terms:


Click on the title of the journal article/book/book chapter to view the item. You can also download the item.

You can also see how many times your search terms appear across the article and link through to the pages where the terms appear, via the View Results link.


Understanding Shakespeare is a collaborative project between JSTOR Labs and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Click next to any line of text in a Shakespeare play, and relevant articles from the JSTOR archive immediately load.

Explore the collection here.


Here is an example from Richard III. There are 17 articles within JSTOR with reference to the first line of the play:


The Text Analyzer is another useful research tool:

  • Upload a file and the tool will analyze the keywords and produce a list of JSTOR items that match those keywords
  • You can even use your phone to photograph some text and upload that for analysis!
  • You need a fairly significant piece of text, but you can use assignments, reports or journal articles
  • You will get mismatches and it will work better with some searches than others
  • If you are struggling to retrieve content from your usual search strategies, why not see if this helps.

Find out more about it here, and this brief introductory video will give you an overview of the tool.


MLA International Bibliography

The MLA International Bibliography covers scholarship dealing with the following fields:

  • Literature from all over the world
  • Folklore: folk literature, music, art, rituals, and belief systems
  • Language and linguistics
  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Dramatic arts: film, radio, television and theatre
  • History of printing and publishing

The MLA has developed an online course to teach students how to use the MLA International Bibliography.


There are five modules in the course. The fifth module is 'Literary topics' which provides guidance on performing searches on specific literary works and authors as well as on broad topics.

  • You can sign up online for the course and module - only your e-mail address is required to register.
  • The course usually takes around 90 minutes to complete, and the “Literary Topics” module takes around 45 minutes.

The MLA provide short tutorial videos to help you use the resource. 

There are more tutorials available at


Oxford Handbooks Online

Oxford handbooks contain in-depth articles by experts in the field. 

Browse by subject; choose Literature.

You will then see the articles and books available to you. Refine your search by entering search terms and by narrowing the date range using the left hand menu.

Use the Quick start guide if you need further help using this resource.

Gale Literature

You can choose to search across all of the content in Gale Literature using the main search box.

Alternatively, choose which part to search by clicking on the What's Inside link on the toolbar.



This will show you a list of all of the databases that make up Gale Literature. See the following tabs for more information about these.







If you know the name of the person or literary work that you need, you can choose the Person Search or Works Search links on the toolbar:


Modern and historical literary commentary and criticism. The collection includes:

  • Children's Literature Review
  • Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism
  • Drama Criticism
  • Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism
  • Poetry Criticism
  • Shakespearean Criticism
  • Short Story Criticism
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism



Browse criticism collated into topic areas such as health, feminism, literary movements, censorship, folklore and many more. 

Here you can find introductions to the topics, explore relevant critical essays and articles, and link through to related topics, themes, works and authors.






Biographies, overviews, full-text criticisms, audio interviews, and reviews on writers from all eras.

Access literary works and authors throughout history, including full-text poems, plays, short stories and speeches.



You can also choose Works Search from the toolbar on the main page of Gale Literature.

Use the following resources to find out about authors and influential literary figures.


Biographies and bibliographies of thousands of U.S. and international authors.



Explore the lives, works, and careers of the world's most influential literary figures from all eras and genres.



Browse original scholarly essays on authors from around the world. 



Examine the lives and works of children and young adult authors and illustrators.



In-depth critical introductions to the lives and works of major writers. Includes influences of literary movements.


You can also choose Person Search from the toolbar on the main Gale Literature page:

Contact Us or Give Feedback