Skip to Main Content

ENGL 381: Major Authors: James Joyce

Finding Criticism

For your mid-semester research assignment in this class, you'll need to identify, read, analyze, and respond to one scholarly (peer-reviewed) article or book chapter that demonstrates a critical approach to the works of James Joyce.

Not sure where to start?  Here are three broad strategies that you can try:

  • Browse key journals for scholarship related to James Joyce and his works
  • Search a subject database, such as the MLA International Bibliography or Literature Criticism Online
  • Search Primo for print and ebooks related to your topic

Featured Journals

If you're not sure yet what you're interested in, or you're interested in so many different aspects of Joyce's work that you can't decide where to focus, you might want to just browse through scholarly journals to see what catches your eye. Collins Library subscribes to two major scholarly journals in the field, listed below:

Search a Subject Database

Like most other disciplines, English has several subject-specific databases. The MLA International Bibliography and Gale Literature Criticism are two examples. Subject databases index scholarly materials (books, chapters in books, scholarly articles, dissertations) that will be of interest to researchers within that discipline. MLAIB is the key database for literature, linguistics, and related areas.

For this assignment, you'll want to limit your results to just articles or books. Click on the "check for full text" link to see if Collins Library has the journal or you need to order it through interlibrary loan.

Books on James Joyce

A sampling of potentially relevant books is listed below.

Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

Collins Library uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the content of books. If you are researching an author about whom much has been written, you can use Library of Congress Subject subheadings to help pinpoint your search.

Here are several examples, centered on James Joyce and his works, of the various ways you can use LCSH to help pinpoint what you need:

Joyce, James, 1882-1941

Joyce, James, 1882-1941 -- Criticism and interpretation

Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses

Joyce, James, 1882-1941 -- Political and social views

Joyce, James, 1882-1941 -- Influence


Irish literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism

Modernism (Literature) -- Ireland

Dublin (Ireland) -- In literature

Literature and history -- Ireland -- History -- 20th century

Reading Criticism

Texts that interpret literary works are usually persuasive texts. Literary critics may conduct a close reading of a work, critique a literary work from the stance of a particular literary theory, or debate the soundness of other critics' interpretations. 

During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:

  • Abstract (if available)
  • First paragraph (sometimes the second paragraph, too):  What is the writer’s central claim? What research question is the author asking?
  • Evidence:  What kind of evidence does the writer use to support their claim? Are there quotations from the text(s)? From other critics/scholars? From theorists?
  • Scholarly conversation:  What are the other scholarly works (secondary sources) the author uses? Does the author acknowledge counter-arguments? How does this interpretation connect to your own close reading of the text?
  • Conclusion (typically the last paragraph):  How does the author tie the evidence together to answer the research question? What is the significance of this research?

Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation. 

Tip: Read the article more than once!  It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.