This page addresses the practice of literary criticism, from defining it and classifying its types to listing relevant subject headings to offering suggestions for finding information on and examples of various critical approaches to literature.
According to the entry for Criticism in the Handbook to lLterature, 10th edition (Ref PN41.H355 2006), criticism is defined as "[t]he analysis, study, and evaluation of individual works of art, as well as the formulation of general principlesfor the examination of such works." This and a companion entry, Criticism, Types of, are good points of departure for further, in-depth study of literary criticism.
The Handbook to Literature also provides brief defining/descriptive entries for the better known approaches to literary criticism, such as feminist criticism, historical criticism, New Criticism, etc.
A case study is a book that examines a subject from a variety of approaches or perspectives. In the social sciences, this type of publication is quite common. In literature, case studies often take the form of examination of a literary work from a variety of critical approaches, as do the books in the Macmillan series Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Googleable as "case studies in contemporary criticism").
A book that is a case study may not reveal this in its title, as the following literary case studies owned by Houston Cole Library illustrate.
Literary Criticism falls under the broader rubric of General Literature (LC subclass PN) and has a parallel alphabet (for both reference and circulating books) whose boundaries are approximately PN81 - PN100. These books are on Houston Cole Library's sixth floor, and if one is perusing the reference section there it would be wise to browse back as far as PN41 in order to harvest the handbooks to literature.
A detailed outline of the class, taken from SuperLCCS: Gale's Library of Congress Classification Schedules, is accessible via the link below. Notice the "money zone" that begins with PN98. Many items in the list are critical approaches and could be used to fill database or internet searchboxes when seeking literary criticism of a particular kind.
Literary criticism is such an ever-evolving field that traditional analog sources (i.e., print) have a hard time remaining current. New approaches (i.e., thing studies) are always being devised. To keep up, a good strategy is to employ a single-box Google Search and in the box type "literary criticism types (list)" (or a variant meaning the same thing), and from the results list choose the links you like. There will be omissions in individual websites and overlap among them, but often a webpage will offer something unique from its companion sites.
Locating criticism on literature is easy; locating literary criticism from a particular school or approach, not so much. Sometimes the introduction of a book will indicate which (if any) critical approach is employed, and sometimes reviews in scholarly journals will identify any critical approaches used in the book(s) reviewed. But such discoveries are serendipitous and unpredictable and, due to the level of indexing in library catalog records, JaxCat searches do not provide the type of result sought consistently enough to be reliable. A better course would be to consult the literature review annuals American Literary Scholarship (Ref PS3.A47) and Year's Work in English Studies (Ref PE58.E6) to trace critical scholarship on literary topics. Beyond these, there are still other approaches which yield helpful results.
1. Discovery Search (Advanced)
1. In the top box (all) place the author's name and an identifier for the critical approach sought (e.g., femini marx psychol). These are words essential to the success of the search.
2. In the second box (exact phrase) place essential phrases, such as the title of the work or identifier phrases for criticism (e.g. new criticism reader-response).
3. In the third box (at least) type the words analysis criticism interpretation. This is to harvest secondary sources about the work, not copies of the work itself (the primary source).
From your results list look for your search terms in boldface type. Then, for the items you like, look for the word Preview hyperlink. Peruse the Preview; if you like what you see, click on Get book in Print/Find in a Library in the left pane. See if Houston Cole Library has the book. If we do, then the entire book is available. If not, then you still have the Preview.
For books the library does not have, check the Google Books record for subject headings. Open a JaxCat window for Subject search, copy/paste a heading from Google Books, and see what books on the same subject Houston Cole Library does own.