Skip to Main Content

ENGL 321: Renaissance Poetry and Prose

History of Literary Criticism

It is often useful to get a sense of the shifting reception of a literary work from its initial reviews through the centuries. Resources, such as the Gale Literary Criticism Series exist to help you do this.  

Gale Literary Criticism Series

Provides immediate critical essays on a wide range of authors, usually giving a general overview of a writer's work or themes.

Choose the appropriate set depending on the year of the author's death. Each volume contains cumulative author, nationality and title indexes at the back, referring to the specific volume number and set in which to find the entry.

If author's death date is:

You should turn to:

After Dec.31 1959
(or author is still living)
Contemporary Literary Criticism
REF PN771.C59
1900 - 1959 Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
REF PN771.G27
1800-1899 Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism
REF PN761.N5
1400-1799 Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800
PN86.L53 1984 SL Compact (not Shakespeare)
Antiquity-1399 Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism
REF PN861.5.C57


Shakespearian Criticism

This detailed online series provides comprehensive coverage of critical interpretations of the plays and poems of William Shakespeare.

  • Volumes 1 through 10 present critical overviews of each play and feature criticism from the 17th century to the present.
  • Volumes 11-26 focus on the history of Shakespeare's plays on the stage and in major film adaptations.
  • Volumes 27-56 focus on criticism published after 1960 and include topic entries that deliver thematic approaches to Shakespeare's works. 
  • Volume 57 and onwards provides general criticism published since 1990 and historical criticism not featured in previous volumes on four to five plays or works per volume. Select volumes contain topic entries.

To find the online volumes, search the title, Shakespearean criticism, in Omni.

Also consider checking the following sections on the subject guide, English Language and Literature.

♦ Literary Theory and Criticism
♦ History of Criticism
♦ Literary Histories