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We’re a discovery tool, not a research tool. We won’t direct you to an essay about Brave New World.

Most of the essays linked here do not use a formal documentation style such as MLA. (They still cite their sources, but they do so in informal ways characteristic of writing for the web.) Follow your professor’s guidelines for citation.

Some of the essays here are written in the first person or draw on the essayist’s personal experience. Whether you like that approach is a matter of taste. Note, however, that some professors discourage the use of the first person.

In short, if you’re not sure whether something a critic does is appropriate for your assignment, ask your professor. Here’s how.

OK, but I still need some help writing my essay.

Argumentation and analysis

Grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary

Quoting and documentation (MLA style)

Essay and paragraph structure

Research

Most guides for students in introductory literature classes focus on the form of the essay: the thesis, citations, and so on. All of that is important, but seemed to overlook a more fundamental question: What is literary criticism for? What kinds of claims can one make in an essay about literature? I recognized that academic journals are intimidating to students who are just beginning to explore the field, and Google is awash in essay mills. So I started gathering essays that would bridge the gap between “homework” and scholarship.

Criteria for inclusion

  • This collection is designed to introduce readers to literary criticism. We do not link to poems, stories, or literary journals.
  • Makes a compelling claim using specific evidence. We define “literary analysis” as broadly as possible.
  • Not primarily a book review. The essay might make an evaluative judgment, but its interest should go beyond advising us whether or not to read a book.
  • Does not require extensive prior knowledge of scholarship or academic culture. Ideally, the reader should be able to understand the claim without having read the texts under discussion. Any references to theorists or historical events are accompanied by an explanation.
  • Published by an organization with a formal editorial process (i.e., no personal blogs)
  • Not behind a hard paywall

I am not a publisher. I link to previously published material I consider of high educational value. If, for any reason, you do not want your work featured here, send me a message and it will be removed.

This site was built using the Django framework and is hosted on the Heroku platform. The collection of essays is a simple PostgreSQL database. I use Bootstrap to make the site display clearly on screens of different sizes and for its built-in accessibility features.

I don’t collect your data.

If you come across any bugs or experience any difficulty using the site, shoot me a line.