Skip to Main Content

English and American Literature

A resource guide for the study of English and American Literature.

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings to find Literary Criticism in BobCat

Subject headings are words and phrases which constitute a "controlled vocabulary" to categorize books by subject. 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, publisher, title, etc.), so your search results will be less targeted if you use keywords than if you search for subject headings or descriptors.

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:

  • Austen, Jane, 1775-1817 - Criticism and interpretation
  • Morrison, Toni - Criticism and interpretation
  • Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892 - Criticism and interpretation

Literary Criticism via General / Multi-Disciplinary databases

Literary Criticism via Subject Specific databases

Reference source: Literary Research Guide

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.