Want to know what people thought of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” a month after its release? Need to know what 18th century critics thought of Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” a hundred years after its first performance? Then Gale’s Literature Criticism Online is the perfect starting point for your research.
Gale best sums up the utility of its resource:
“Gale literary references, taken together as print, could fill 230 feet of shelf space! But now, hundreds of volumes are digitized and ready to read with Literature Criticism Online.
“The net result is tens of thousands of hard-to-find essays at your fingertips. It’s all designed to raise the level of research while providing the around-the-clock remote access that today’s researchers demand.
“For students, researchers, history buffs and literature lovers, there’s no better source than Literature Criticism Online to discover commentary on their favorite books and plays by the scholars of the day. How did the politics, religion and mores of centuries past influence literary critique? Draw comparisons and see how classic works have fared over the centuries via this resource’s easy-searching capabilities.”
This summer, Falvey Memorial Library switched from the print to the online versions of this huge reference series. Encompassing hundreds of volumes, the Gale series is broken down into many sub-collections. The Library now has online access to—
· Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC) – 324 Volumes
· Classical & Medieval Literature Criticism (CMLC) – 155 Volumes
· Drama Criticism (DC) – 45 Volumes
· Literature Criticism from 1400-1800 (LC) – 191 Volumes
· Nineteenth-century Literature Criticism (NCLC) – 225 Volumes
· Poetry Criticism (PC) – 138 Volumes
· Shakespearean Criticism (SC) – 128 Volumes
· Short Story Criticism (SSC) – 185 Volumes
· Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (TCLC) – 269 Volumes
The online version is a scanned database of all the print pages and utilizes a modern, comprehensive search engine to find every mention of a particular author, title/work or keyword. The advanced search function allows users to search using Boolean search terms and has options that allow users to search all collections or choose a specific sub-collection. Gale Publishing adds a new author entry to their books whenever enough new pieces of criticism from the author’s lifetime are discovered. The online search function, in addition, allows users to easily search through these multiple volumes for entries on the same author or title, saving researchers hours of print volume cross-indexing. It also allows users to list results in ascending or descending in order to access the oldest or newest items in the series.
Once they choose a particular author or title entry, users can click on the “Inside this Entry” link to see all the critics and/or reviewers who contributed essays for that particular topic. This feature allows researchers to locate and compare reviews by the same scholar over a period of time or identify entries by well-known critics or other authors of that time period.
The Literature Criticism Online database is especially useful to researchers who wish to quickly and efficiently plot the changes in attitudes and perceptions about a particular author by his or her fans over an extended period of time. The database is not restricted to authors of literature; notables in the fields of philosophy, theology and other humanities, such as Derrida, Kant and Lacan, are well represented and have full sections alongside Hemingway, Shakespeare and Plath.
While the scanned pages are of very good quality, users may need to use the dropdown menu at the bottom of each viewing page to increase the page scale size from the default 25% up to 33% or 50% for easier reading.
Although the partial essays and brevity of many of the entries may not satisfy the stringent scholarly requirements of graduate or doctoral students, the scope of the essays and the breadth of coverage make Gale’s Literature Criticism Online a valuable, time-saving resource for undergraduates or advanced researchers looking for a good overview of an author and the critical opinions of his or her following.
Questions or comments? Contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your online comments below.
Rob LeBlanc is first-year experience & humanities librarian.
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