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Literary Criticism: About This Guide

This guide is meant to help you with any assignment involving the the critiquing of literature.

Will This Guide Help You?

Anyone having to critique an assigned reading for a class will find this guide helpful.

Criticism assignments here at LaGuardia may be given by your criminal justice, English, psychology, sociology, or urban studies professor. Usually your first encounter critiquing something you've read will be in an English course.

The following courses usually require you to critique something you've read:

  • ENG102
  • ENG250

Literary criticsm . . .

. . .involves the use of secondary sources (articles and/or books about a particular work usually, but not always, written by someone other than the author of that work) that address themes, styles, mood, use of language, genre, etc. to gain a better insight and understanding of a particular work of literature; be it a novel, short story, poem, etc.

As a student assigned to critique a particular work of literature your job is to locate appropriate secondary sources and use them as a basis to develop a somewhat unique analysis of the work or to support your "take" on what the author and his/her work are attempting to communicate to the reader.

Terms you should know

Biography A factual book about someone's life written by someone other than the subject.
Autobiography A book about a person's life, written by the subject.
Criticism A book or article that analyzes and interprets a literary work.
Author The writer of an article, book, poem, etc.
Subject The focus or theme of the writing; can be a person.
Secondary source An article or book that critiques a previously published literary work.
Work In the field of literature, something created by an author.


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