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About Literary Criticism

Literary criticism delves into the deeper meanings of literature. Literary critics analyze texts for insight into the author's life, society, culture, era, as well as the overall meaning of the works. Critics unearth these insights through research into the author's life, societal and historical context, and other factors influencing creative endeavors of the author's era. Literary criticism provides a thorough understanding of not only fictional texts but of the human condition as well. As Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors wrote in their introduction to A New Literary History of America criticism's goal is to highlight the "religious and heretical impulses in the culture, its gothic and paranoid scenarios, its democratic promise, it slave narrative and persistent, though ever-changing issue of race, its Western and captivity narrative, its children's literature, the power of its sentimentalism, its love for the success story and its faith in self-improvement, its hardboiled speech, its immigrant autobiography, its science fiction, its investigative reporting, and its tension between bursts of freewheeling creativity and repression, between experimentation and orthodoxy, between censorship and the broad laughter at restraint."

The Library's Role

The Mercer County Community College Library's subject guide is designed to identify important materials - books, e-books, journals, data and web resources - for the English department at Mercer County Community College. This guide is a starting point for those researching, taking a class, or interested in English. Any feedback, suggestions or research questions should be sent to For more information on the social science programs at MCCC please visit the Liberal Arts Division website. And remember to stop by the reference desk and ask a librarian at any point in your research process for some extra help.

Marcus, Greil and Werner Sollors, eds. A New Literary History of America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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Compiled by Alexis Kaelin and Daniel Calandro
Updated 12/6/11

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