Early US Literature

Home » Annotated Bibliography » Annotated Bibliography for Literary Criticism and Theory Databases

Annotated Bibliography for Literary Criticism and Theory Databases

This is an annotated bibliography for those interested in literary theory. The purpose of this project is to make it easier to find scholarly databases that contain fundamental criticism.

American National Biography Online, Oxford University Press, Web. 1st August 2013.

For any historicist, American National Bibliography online is well worth using. Almost all the Early American Authors are there. There is an extensive biography on William Bradford. It explains his early works as a historian; so, that can be crucial to a historic outlook on a text. It also contains a long biography on Lydia Maria Child, who is, honestly, just now being studied again. The iography goes into fairly good detail about her book Hobomok—which involved interracial love btween a woman and a Native American. It’s nearly impossibly not to find an author—even from Early American literature—on this database. For Historicists, this is a vital tool. Historicism puts works of literature into the context of what was/is happening at the time. Furthermore, historicism uses the author’s life as a backbone for textual analysis of prose, poetry, and drama. This database, as well, needs institutional access. It is lamentable that many high school students can’t use this resource. It’s very helpful in engaging in literary criticism—Stephen Greenblat would be of note—but it would be a comfort to know that developing minds could read it too. Most people have little or no patience at all for long biographies—unless they are used for historical context in higher education.

Gender Studies Databases, EBSCOhost, Web. 1st August 2013

This database, hosted through EBSCO, contains a great deal of content on  LGBT theory applied to many literary texts. However, the main reason this website is so enticing to a student in American literature, is that it applies these theories to pre-Civil War texts. For example, one only need to punch in Melville to retrieve a few solid academic entries ranging from homosexuality in “Billy Budd,” to “heterotopia.” So, although some of the resources come up with few results, they are peer reviewed, scholarly works. Interestingly enough, there are twenty-sic articles on Gender Studies about early American literature, alone.  However, there are considerably less results for other early writer; and, at other times, no entries at all. With that in mind, this is a good apparatus to use for LGBT or Gender Studies. It’s almost a springboard to delve into so much more. All the articles have extensive bibliographies. This helps any academic find many paths to this particular literary criticism. Also, this particular literature is not typically looked at through this critical lens. It provides a different view at the literature we have come to know.</p>

International Women’s Studies Database, EBSCOhost, Web. 1st August 2013

This is a fairly good starting point to find feminist criticism on many texts that pertain to Puritan literature. Even more so, there are quite a few academic journal articles dealing with a Women’s Study perspective on the Puritans alone. It certainly behooves a pupil to venture into it, because there seems to be more specific feminist criticism on this database than the others. The Women’s Studies criticism is, of course, in the forefront. This website, too, is published an EBSCO vehicle,; but, it sort everything one needs for these theories and criticisms into a neat package. Something that is rather interesting, is the fact that if one searches for “Walt Whitman,” there are a host of different articles about Women’s Studies and LGBT criticisms, but about ninety percent of them are written by men.  This, in some ways, makes the database more diverse. Therefore, the apparatus is useful in really engaging in arguments that are going on about Early American literature in these fields. The database is highly recommended for anyone who wants to delve into the nature of Women’s Studies—which has become more and more important in the last twenty years.

JSTOR, JSTOR.org, Web. 1st August 2013

JSTOR is a beast when it comes to finding theoretical criticisms on just about anything.  If one does a sear for Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, it is only necessary to fill in a blank. For example, there are countless Derridian interpretations, and Foucault viewpoints; everything ranging from post-structuralism to feminism. There is a plethora of knowledge in this database.  There are post-colonial arguments in articles concerned with the Puritans and its giants—William Bradford, John Winthrop, etc. There is a great deal of work done in the sociological field of  Cultural Studies that use Pierre Bordieu’s essay, “Distinction,” to show different class and socio-economic issues. Of course, Marxism from Barthes to Althusser is represented by this database. There are many articles of Marxist thought dealing with the ideologies of the Puritans, Melville, Dickinson, and Whitman. Marxism is one of theories favorite tools and it works incredibly well applied to early American literature. To use this database, you must either pay or have access from some institution.  For most scholars, this is not a problem due to access through a university.  It is a great database for literary criticism—possibly the best this author has access to.

20th-Century Literary Criticism Gale Learning. Web. 1st August 2013.

Literature Criticism Online is a database that deals with Twentieth Century literary criticism. Notwithstanding, these theories are applied to numerous texts that entered into the canon starting back to 1400. In fact there is a very long edited book that critiques everything from 1400 to 1800. The layout is nice and has pictures of the original text. As far as literary criticism is concerned, there is a vault of different theories and criticisms. The articles are peer reviewed, academic, trustworthy writings. There is a good amount on Melville and Hawthorne—which is not uncommon—including studies about Marxist readings of “Bartleby, the Scrivener : A Story of Wall Street.” There are articles that assiduously look at Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a diverse amount of microscopic views. These include, racial studies, Marxism, historicism, and cultural studies. Furthermore, one can find book length chapters on Charles Brockden Brown and Lydia Maria Child. Thus, the database is a wonderful tool for looking straight for criticism. It saves the student time and shortens the path to finding the articles he or she need. However, it is also only available through use at a university or other institution.


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