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English Research - Literary Criticism: Keywords

This guide provides students with recommended resources for English research and finding literary criticism.


Sometimes the words you use to search a topic are different from the words used by the library sources. Try combining the title of your literary work or name of your author with the following words:

  • criticism
  • analysis
  • interpretation
  • imagery
  • symbolism
  • themes
  • history
  • context
  • social conditions or social aspects
  • culture
  • a specific genre like war literature or war poems
  • a specific cultural or identity group like Native American literature
  • a specific era like 1920s literature
  • a specific movement or event like Harlem Renaissance short stories
  • biography
  • primary sources

If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help.

How to Search Keywords

Keywords are the words you type into a search box to search for information on your topic. The words you use to describe your topic may be different from the words used in the library catalog (OneSearch) and library databases. For example, another way to describe teenagers might be adolescents.

Watch the video below for a short tutorial on keywords, including some good strategies for combining them effectively. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing successful keywords.