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ENGLISH: Subject Guide: Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism

Book Reviews

Reviews of nonfiction books analyze the topics and/or arguments of the book. Reviewers judge the effectiveness of the authors' support for their arguments and assertions. An author should have some form of authority - they should have a credible reason for writing on the subject. Thus, a book review should cover the authors' credentials. Typically, book reviews compare the book to similar books on the subject. Pay attention to what reviewers consider to be important omissions and any potential biases.

Book Reviews in Journals

Book Reviews Online

Literary Criticism

Literary criticism is the term given to studies that define, classify, analyze, interpret, and evaluate works of literature. There are many types of literary criticism:

  • Moral Criticism, Dramatic Construction (~360 BC-present)
  • Formalism, New Criticism, Neo-Aristotelian Criticism (1930s-present)
  • Psychoanalytic Criticism, Jungian Criticism(1930s-present)
  • Marxist Criticism (1930s-present)
  • Reader-Response Criticism (1960s-present)
  • Structuralism/Semiotics (1920s-present)
  • Post-Structuralism/Deconstruction (1966-present)
  • New Historicism/Cultural Studies (1980s-present)
  • Post-Colonial Criticism (1990s-present)
  • Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)
  • Gender/Queer Studies (1970s-present)
  • Critical Race Theory (1970s-present) (Purdue OWL)

Literary criticism may examine a particular literary work or it may look at an author's writings as a whole. 

Literary Criticism in Journals