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Essays and Essayists: Finding Criticism

This guide is helpful for locating resources related to essays.

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings to find Criticism in Bobcat

Subject headings are words and phrases which consitiute a "controlled vocabulary" to categorize books by subject field.  Subject headings often indicate the contents of books in terms that their titles do not use, which often may be very general. Subject headings in online databases are often referred to as descriptors, but they serve the same purpose in locating valuable resources. Using a "keyword" search will identify catalog entries that contain those specific terms which can add value to a search; however, the terms can be found anywhere - author, notes, publisher, etc. - therefore there is no indication of the value of the term(s) as content matter of the items in a results list.

Use general subject headings for searching a broad topic or more specific subject headings for a specific text, film, or play. You will find (more) headings specific to the subject category within the left-hand facets in our online catalog, Bobcat.  If you want to see the subject headings for a specific title, click on the "details" link in the title record. 

Critical works are classified and sorted by author's name, dates of birth and death, and the subheading, Criticism and Interpretation.  Here are some examples:

Danticat, Edwidge, 1969- -- Criticism and interpretation

Didion, Joan -- Criticism and interpretation

Criticism via General / Multi-Disciplinary databases

Criticism via Subject Specific databases

Database Search Tips

Here are tips for better search results in databases. This usage works on most databases, but check 'Help' sections for supported search syntax. 

Boolean: (using operators: and, or, not) 

mother and father searches for occurrences of both words within scope defined.

mother or father searches for one or all, but both are not required.

mother not father searches for occurrences of the word ‘mother’ without use of the word ‘father.’

(mother not father) and god searches for occurrences of the word ‘mother’ without use of the word ‘father,’ then also requires the word ‘god.’


Truncation: 

art* searches for art, arts, artistic, artful, etc.


Wildcard: 

m?n searches for man and men.