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Queen's University Library

English Language and Literature: History of Criticism

It is often useful to get a sense of the shifting reception of a literary work from its initial reviews through the centuries. Many resources exist to help you do this.

Queen's Library holds 118 volumes of the "Critical Heritage" series: for a complete listing, do a "Series/Uniform Title" search in QCAT for this series title. Individual volumes review criticism of authors as diverse as Byron, Gaskell, and Nabokov.

Gale Literary Criticism Series

Provides immediate critical essays on a wide range of authors, usually giving a general overview of a writer's work or themes.

Choose the appropriate set depending on the year of the author's death. Each volume contains cumulative author, nationality and title indexes at the back, referring to the specific volume number and set in which to find the entry.

If author's death date is:

You should turn to:

After Dec.31 1959
(or author is still living)
Contemporary Literary Criticism
REF PN771.C59
1900 - 1959 Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
REF PN771.G27
1800-1899 Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism
REF PN761.N5
1400-1799 Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800
REF PN86.L53 1984 (excluding Shakespeare)
Antiquity-1399 Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism
REF PN861.5.C57

The following titles are a selection of bibliographies on criticism.

Dyson, A.E. English Poetry: Select Bibliographical Guides (1971)
REF Z2014.P7E53

Extensive selection of criticism up to 1970 on major English poets from Chaucer to Eliot.

Martinez, Nancy C. and Joseph G.R. Martinez. Guide to British Poetry Explication
4 vols. (1991-1995)
REF Z2014.P7M34

Cites major interpretations of works by major poets. Each volume (v. 1. Old English, Medieval -- v. 2. Renaissance -- v. 3. Restoration-Romantic -- v. 4. Victorian-Contemporary) is arranged alphabetically by author and title.

Kuntz, Joseph Marshall and Nancy C. Martinez. Poetry Explication: A Checklist of Interpretation since 1925 of British and American Poems Past and Present
3rd ed.
REF Z2014.P7K8 1980

A list of articles, published in books and journals from 1925-1977, that explains poems by major authors. Poem titles are arranged alphabetically beneath each author entry.

Alexander, Harriet Semmes. American and British Poetry: A Guide to the Criticism, 1925-78
REF Z1231.P7A44 1984

Eichelberger, Clayton L. A Guide to Critical Reviews of United States Fiction, 1870-1910 (1971-74)
REF Z1225.E35

A "preliminary" list of 20,000 critical notices of works of American fiction in two volumes.

Cassis, A.F. The Twentieth Century Novel: An Annotated Bibliography of General Criticism (1977)
REF Z2014.F4 C35

McNutt, Dan F. The Eighteenth Century Gothic Novel: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism and Selected Texts (1975)
REF Z2014.F5M3

Harner, James L. English Renaissance Prose Fiction, 1500-1660: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism (1978)
Z2014.F4 H37

Trudeau, Lawrence J., ed. Drama Criticism: Criticism of the Most Significant and Widely Studied Dramatic Works from All the World's Literatures (1991- )
REF PN1721.D72t

Excerpts of criticism on the most frequently studied playwrights of all time periods and nationalities. Holdings: vol. 1 only.

Stein, Rita. Major Modern Dramatists
REF PN1861.M27 1984

Excerpts of criticism on Western playwrights of international renown from the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Last Updated: 13 August 2009