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Comparative Literature

A resource guide for the study of Comparative Literature.

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings to find literary criticism in BobCat

What are subject headings?

Subject headings are words and phrases which constitute 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. In online databases, subject headings are often referred to as descriptors, but they serve the same purpose in locating valuable resources. A "keyword" search will lead to results that contain those specific terms, which can add value to a search, However, since keywords can be found anywhere (author, notes, publisher, etc.), subject headings allow you to search by topic in a more focused way.

Use general subject headings to search 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. You can see subject headings on each item's detailed catalog page in BobCat.

Using subject headings to find literary criticism

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:

  • Achebe, Chinua -- Criticism and interpretation
  • García Márquez, Gabriel, 1928- -- Criticism and interpretation
  • Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1899-1977 -- Criticism and interpretation

Literary Criticism via General / Multi-Disciplinary databases

Literary Criticism via Subject Specific databases

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism


The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism is an indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. Presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field's most important figures, schools, and movements.

Database search tips

Here are some 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.’


art* (asterisk as truncation character) searches for art, arts, artistic, artful, etc.


m?n (question mark as wildcard character) searches for man and men.