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Dr. Potter's Library Guide: Literary Criticism

Literature Review vs. Book Review vs. Literary Criticism

The chart below outlines a few characteristics of literature reviews, book reviews and literary criticisms. It is not complete, not every characteristic might apply to your source (when you are checking a document against this list), however, it might help distinguish what type of document you are looking at.


Literature Review

Book Review

Literary Criticism

- Gives you background of topic

- summarizes literature

- identifies gap in knowledge (what is not known)

- identifies the importance of answering gap

- published some time, or long after, initial source’s  publication

- Usually written by a scholar

- Author has academic credentials

- Written for academic audience

-Arguments based on Research

- Analyzes book based on content, style, and merit

- Summarizes book

-Might not include a review of the literature, (past publications)

- Emotional impact of author's writing is important / analyzed.

- evaluates the book as either 'good' or 'bad'.

- based on critic’s personal taste/opinion

- usually published shortly after book publication

- critic urges reader to buy or not buy, read or not read.

- Usually written by a journalist (sometimes author is not identified)

- Different audiences considered (popular audiences, different age groups)

- Could be written to entertain

-Authored much later after book is Published


- Analyzes content through the literary techniques & elements used by the author(s).


- Usually written by a scholar


- Author has academic credentials


- Written for academic audience


-- arguments are based on research

Anatomy of a Literary Criticism Article

Shown in the image above are the basic parts of a literary analysis article. Hover the mouse cursor over each section to read a description.

Literary Criticism (Web Resources)

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