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ENGL 4325/5325- Victorian Literature

Reviews vs Criticism vs Critical Reception

In general terms as they relate to the study of literary works, reviews are the least evaluative and are more of a summary of the work.

Criticism is a method of studying texts for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, analyzing their content or style, etc. by any individual.

Critical Reception of a literary text or work is the analysis of how different individuals criticized (received) the work when it was published and at later dates.  Was it received favorably by the critics and general reading public or was it criticized harshly?  Was it a bestseller?  Did critics like it?  Do readers enjoy it?  Was it ever banned from schools?  Have reader's attitude's about the text changed over time?

Perspectives of Literary Evaluation

There are many perspectives from which an author’s works may be read, analyzed and evaluated. Our library offers ways into a range of these perspectives, including many individual volumes devoted solely to criticism of an author’s works or even of an individual work. It is crucial to know a volume of literary criticism when you see one; that is, to be able to tell that a certain book you have in hand is a book reflecting on and responding to an author’s work rather than, say, a biography of an author or an edition of an author’s work. The Twayne series of volume devoted to individual authors, for example, is mostly literary criticism, though each volume also contains biographical information on the author. To complicate things a bit further, there are also editions of author’s works that combine, say, a reliable text of a novel with literary criticism of the novel: the most well-known series of this type is the Norton Critical Editions. 

If you’re looking for the most up-to-date criticism of an author’s work, though, you will not be as likely to find it in books as you will in scholarly journals. Our library’s databases are essential tools for leading you to such sources, and, for students of literature, an indispensable database for finding past and current articles about an author’s work is the MLA International Bibliography, which tries to list all the articles, dissertations and books published about hundreds of authors each year.

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