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Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons

Taylor ENL 160 Reading Broadly

Library Research Guide Spring 2021

Literary Criticisms in Books

  • Professor Taylor gives you the option of working with a book chapter instead of a journal article.
  • Books are excellent sources of literary criticisms!
    • The longer format of a book enables an author to more fully cover a literary work.
    • Some works like King Lear, have entire books written about them.
    • Other works may be covered in a chapter or parts of a chapter.
    • Sometimes, you find chapters that discuss how your author treats literary elements.
  • Search strategy for finding a book/chapter on your work:
    • Enter a key word search in the Berry Library search box for "Books" 
      • Start simple
      • Start broad
      • Use the author's last name or a key term from the work's title and a phrase like "criticism."
        • Examples:
          • Shakespeare and Lear and Criticism
          • Carver and Cathedral and criticism
  • Working with Criticisms in Books Requires a Little Extra Work
    • In general, a periodical article will make it clear, from the title, abstract, or database keywords and subject headings, if your literary work is covered within.
    • If an entire book covers your literary work, all you have to do is look at chapter headings and begin.
    • Often, though, a particular work is not the main topic o a book chapter. It might be used, along with other works, to illustrate points about the author's style. 
      • Consult the Index to the book to find specific page references to your literary work. 
      • You will find references clusters in chapters that provide the most coverage.
      • You might want to read the entire chapter to fully understand what the author is saying about your literary work.

Search #1: Search the NOBLE Catalog to Find Books at Salem State and Local Libraries

  • To find books about your literary work, enter key words from its title and the last name of your author. 
    • Your author is actually the subject of your search.
  • The search is very similar to what you would do in journal databases.
  • What kinds of books will you find?
    • Books with chapter about several of your author's works
    • Books that focus on one of your author's works, with chapters that look at different aspects
    • Books that are collections of articles by different authors

Optional: Search WorldCat to Compile an Extensive List of Books

Optional: Search the Boston Public Library to Expand your List of Criticisms

Sample Search for a Book Chapter

  • Begin at the tab for "Books, Media, & More" on the Library home page

  • The next page shows results.
  • Scan the titles of entries.
  • In this search, all are about Raymond Carver.
  • However, I cannot determine if any cover "Cathedral."
    • It is very possible that they do, since this is a well-known work.
    • If I'm using the print book, I would consult the index at the back of the book to find page references to "Cathedral."
    • If I'm using an ebook, I will search in the Index of the book for page references.
    • If I download the entire book, I can search by CTRL-F.
      • In EBSCO, this requires setting up a personal account. 
      • At this stage of my research, I am not sure I want to take the time to do this.
      • I will see if I can find page references in the Index.
      • I open the PDF of the book.


  • This is a screen shot of the ebook Technique and Sensibility in the Fiction and Poetry of Raymond Carver.
  • I look at chapter headings, but cannot determine which chapter covers "Cathedral."
  • Fortunately, the Index is available online to search.


  • The table of contents shows chapter headings and the fact that there is an Index

  • Finding "Cathedral" in the Index required becoming acquainted with how works are listed.
  • "Cathedral" is not listed alphabetically.
  • It is listed under the heading "Collections of fiction:"