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English: Reviews

guide for affiliates of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)

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Search these Gitenstein Library databases to find reviews—authored by critics and scholars—of literary works, films, and theatrical productions (plays). Best-bet review sources include newspapers, literary magazines, and review periodicals. The texts of plays are also important because their introductions often address such topics as production history, awards, and critical reception.

Top recommendation:

Major review databases:

Review or criticism?

Initial reactions to a literary work (i.e., reviews) differ in some important ways from scholarly criticisms. Reviews of books appear within about a year after a work has been published. Reviews tend to be briefer than scholarly criticisms and sometimes address different audiences. For example, the goal of a local newspaper's review of Margaret Atwood's Testaments (c2019) might be to help the reader determine if the book is worth their time. Is it a good read? Scholarly criticisms, on the other hand, might compare two or more authors; analyze the text within a writer's overall body of work (oeuvre); apply an analytical framework or methodology (e.g., semiotics); and/or address unresolved disciplinary debates/questions.

Admittedly, magazine, newspaper, and open web reviews sometimes address some of the same concerns as criticisms. But scholars look at reviews and criticisms differently and so, therefore, should students. Reviews are generally not peer reviewed, another distinction. Determine a review's quality by the reputation of the reviewer and/or periodical. Another academic use of book reviews involves employing them as primary sources to inform our understanding of a work's historical reception.

Next Steps

Find even more historical literary reviews from the Primary Sources Online page of the English libguide. Click on the Periodicals tab for many historical newspaper options.

For book-length works that explore the reception of an author's literary production over time, perform an Advanced library search. From the initial drop-down menu select Subject contains. Enter the author's last name (e.g., Shakespeare) in the accompanying search box. On the second line again select Subject contains and then enter "criticism and interpretation" AND history into the accompanying search box. Execute your search. Sort results in descending order by date, newest to oldest. Scan for relevant titles. Click on a promising title to open the bibliographic record. Look for a Subject that follows this convention:

Only well-studied authors typically receive such book-length treatments. In such cases, perform the same search in WorldCat.

Get Help

Please try the resources and instructions on this page to find your review(s). If you still cannot find what you're looking for, contact me for help!

Major Review Periodicals

Best bets:

Also great:


Films/motion pictures:

Interlibrary Loan: Articles

Need to know if the library has an article? Search here for the journal title.

If the library cannot make the article available immediately, request it through our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service.