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HC 111 - Literary Criticism

Database Introduction

What they are:
Databases are services that we or the state of Maine subscribe to that index journal articles. Some provide articles in their full text entirety, some give citation information including the title of article and journal, date and issue information, author's name, and an abstract or summary.

How to use them:
You may type a few key words describing the research topic and the database will provide a list of articles containing those words.


  • Don't change the default search setting to the right of the search bar. Often it will read keyword, or word, or select a field, or descriptors. The words you type into the search bar will be taken from the article's title, abstract, subject terms, and other fields.
  • Many databases including Academic Search Premier, provide subject terms, sometimes called keywords or descriptors in the article record. Think of subject terms as main ideas. If you can find a subject term that describes your topic, click it to generate a list of all articles having that subject term as a main idea. If the subject term is too general, add a word after its clicked to make it more specific.
  • As a rule, when two words are typed together, the database interprets the words as a phrase. To avoid making a phrase, put the word and between the words.
    canterbury tales and women and criticism
  • Synonyms or like concepts may be searched by using parentheses and the word or.
    (criticism or interpretation or study) and Medea
  • An asterisk represents any number of letters after the last letter typed.
    Feminist and feminism are both are both being searched.


Peer Reviewed Journals
Also known as scholarly or academic journals, the articles tend to be longer and are written by experts in the field. One's professional peers will make revisions and decide ultimately if the article should be published. The journals have few if any advertisements, and the articles will often have an extensive list of references. Many databases, including Academic Search Premier, allow searches to be limited to scholarly journals.


Search Databases:
The following databases are linked from "databases by subject" and "English/Literature" from the library home page. Off campus, an account will need to be created to access them. See Off Campus Access / Proxy Configuration for information on how to do this.

Literature Resource Center

  1. Once you get to the Marvel page, locate the name of the database and click. Go to Advanced search.
  2. The "Author - name contains" field will search for works written about the author, not by the author.
  3. On the second line, it's possible to search by title "Title - any words" if you don't know the exact title "Title - exact words" if you do.
  4. On the third line you may do a "Keyword" search and add other terms such as (women or sex* or religio*) or whatever aspect of the work you are studying.

Try the "Literary Criticism, Articles, & Work Overviews" tab.

Academic Search Premier

  1. Once you get to the Marvel page, locate the name of the database and click.
  2. Type the name of the work in one search box and either the author, or the word criticism, or another word that describes which aspect of the work you are studying in the second search box. Keep the "Select a Field (optional)" setting.
  3. Under Limit Your Results, click "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals."
  4. Click Search

Contemporary Literary Criticism Select

  1. Once you get to the Marvel page, locate the name of the database and click.
  2. Type in the author's last name in "Author Name" and title in "Title of Work."

The database includes living authors and authors who died after January 1, 2000.

note on searching: Don't expect to find what you need the first search. The key is to be flexible and try different words and combinations of words. If you're not finding what you need, get help at the Reference/Circulation desk Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30.


Do a Word Search in Nutting's library catalog and in MaineCat because most likely, you won't know the exact subject heading. It's not necessary to type the word and between terms; it's done automatically. If nothing is found, the database reverts to or between the terms - usually not so helpful. If you want to group like concepts or synonyms together, parentheses and the word or work. The asterisk works as well. There is limited descriptive information for books in the library catalog so you may have to think more broadly and generally than you did when searching for articles. If you find a useful subject term, click it to generate additional relevant results. If you add a word to the subject term after its clicked, make sure the search is changed back to a word search.

Items may be requested by clicking "Request This Item." The library barcode number is the six digit number on the back of your student ID. The library receives materials on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and an email will be sent when it arrives. Allow at least five days.


There are many websites published by amateurs. See evaluating websites for help analyzing and determining whether a website should be used. Try here for websites that have actually been chosen and indexed by people, not computers.


Citing Resources
Examples for all kinds of documents/citation styles here. Or, try an automatic citation generator. Here's another one. The generators, according to the authors, do make errors. Check the results against the MLA websites.











Nutting Memorial Library, Maine Maritime Academy, Box C-1, Pleasant Street, Castine, ME 04420 (207) 326-2263

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