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ENG 489 Literary Theory

Library resources for investigating literary theory

Literature Specific Databases

General databases that include literary topics

Why is searching the MLA Bibliography better than Google?

  • The MLA International Bibliography contains over 2.5 million records that pertain specifically to language and literature. Material from other disciplines, like biology or political science, is not included.
  • The Bibliography provides the most comprehensive listing of scholarly material in language, literature, culture, and folklore, including publications not available on the Web.
  • A professional indexing staff and scholars in relevant fields review books, essay collections, journals, bibliographies, and electronic publications to create the most accurate listing possible.
  • The materials covered come from reputable publishers in over one hundred countries.
  • Indexers use controlled vocabulary as subject headings, enabling more precise searches than user-chosen keywords would allow.
  • Each citation contains the information users need to create a bibliography as part of a research project.

MLA Style Center

Information about the 8th/9th edition of the MLA Style Handbook can be found in the MLA Style Center, including A Quick Guide to Works Cited and Ask the MLA

Course Description

An introduction to the concept of criticism, to major critical approaches and controversies, and to using critical theory in the interpretation of texts. Emphasis will be placed on applying knowledge of critical theory in understanding scholarly books and articles and in writing essays about literature.
We will study the major theoretical schools of criticism, reading key texts and identifying the unique vocabulary of each. We will ask of each theory and theorist a series of questions: What is a text? What is the location of meaning? What is the role of the reader? What is the role of the author? What is the purpose of criticism?
Our second aim is to acquire the skills and the vocabulary needed to engage in theoretical research and writing. We will take on some research tasks: checking the library’s holdings on a particular writer, studying bibliographic sources, and writing a longer essay (17-20 pages) on a text.