Skip to Main Content

Literature Research: Find Criticisms, Symbolism, Characters and more

Research tips and techniques for literature resources

Literature Resources

Find Criticism, Symbolism, Views, Characters, and more

TMU Powell Library Catalog

Search TMU Powell Library Catalog

CRITICISM of an Author

The easiest way to find critical analyses of an author's works is to search the author's name and the word "criticism" in the Subject metadata field of the Powell Library Catalog (use the search box above or go to Like this

>su:douglass criticism

>su:dickinson criticism

>su:paine criticism

NOTE: The catalog search engine is not case sensitive so no need to worry about capitalizing anything.


It may be possible to find criticisms of very popular/well known works of literature by using the title (or keywords from the title) as a subject. Like this:

>su:huckleberry finn criticism

>su:leaves of grass criticism

>su:purloined letter criticism


To find resources discussing the political and social views of an author or work search the author's name or the title of the work and the word "views" in the Subject field.  Like this:

>su:huckleberry finn views

>su:franklin benjamin views (for very common names it may be expedient to include the first name)

NOTE: For a more comprehensive search, it may be necessary to search both the author and then the title.  


To find symbolism as it is used in literature or by a particular author search:

>su:symbolism literature

>su:hemingway symbolism


To find information about characters in literature search "characters characteristics literature" in the subject field or use the author's name and the word "characters

>su:characters characteristics literature

>su:hughes langston characters


To find the historical context of a work or author add "history" to the author's name or the title.  Like this:

>su:dickinson history

>su:jewett history


To find information on political and social constraints women had in the 19th/20th centuries search:

>su:women united states social conditions 19th century

>su:women united states political 20th century


For information on women in literature use these Subject headings:  

>su:women in literature

>su:femininity in literature

>su:women and literature

>su:women and literature 19th century

>su:gender identity in literature

>su:sex roles in literature

>su:american literature 20th century

>su:literature and society 18th century


For information on men in literature use these Subject headings:

>su:men in literature

>su:masculinity in literature

>su:male friendship in literature

NOTE: Any century can be used with any subject heading, i.e. use 18th, 19th, 20th, etc. as needed.


Last updated July, 2018.

Use Sources to Find More Sources

You can find many more related subjects by "Using Sources to Find More Sources".  In this case, from your results list, select the title of work that appears useful; then select Description; then scroll down to the Subjects:.  Here you will find additional subject headings that can either expand your search or focus your search.

You can further focus the results to only those articles that are from peer reviewed journals as well as by language, date and topic.  Select "Show more" to expand the list. See figures 1 & 2 below.

Limiting the results by date will zero in on current discussions of a work or author like the Huckleberry Finn controversy. 

Figure 1

                                                                                                                                                       Figure 2


Last updated July, 2018.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Sources


The best scholarly research papers will contain as many of these as possible as part of their supporting documentation.

1. Original words – novels, poems, plays, speeches, interviews, letters, case studies, test data, pilot studies, findings from surveys, archeological drawings..
2. Original works – experiments, films, drawings, designs, models, paintings, music, scores, sculptures, discoveries.


These are also very good sources to use in a scholarly paper

1. Works that discuss a primary source; Works about somebody or about their work(s)
2. Criticisms, critiques, commentaries, analysis, reviews of primary sources
3. A secondary source can become a primary source when it is the work being analyzed, critiqued, reviewed, etc.


These are excellent places to start research on a topic, but are not considered acceptable as documentation in a scholarly research paper. Tertiary sources will provide background information, the broad context of a narrower topic, parameters of a topic and will increase ones comprehension when reading secondary and primary sources on the topic. These will also identify expert authors, bibliographies and professional jargon which can be used to further one’s research –  an application of "using sources to find more sources".

1.  A synthesis and explanation for a popular audience

2.  Books and articles based on secondary sources

3.  Compilation of the research of others

4. Explanation of someone's research for a popular audience

5. Restating what others have said

6. General and specialized encyclopedias including Wikipedia, textbooks and college term papers.


© Janet Tillman/The Master’s University, 2008-2017, permission is granted for non-profit educational use; any reproduction or modification should include this statement.

Last updated October, 2017

Related Guides