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Explore the academic field of literary criticism, which is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Literary criticism is usually written by scholars and is most often published in academic journals or books. These essays generally focus on one title (e.g., the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin or a play by William Shakespeare) or topic (e.g., the portrayal of women in wartime literature). However, literary criticism can also examine a particular genre, the works of a single author, or a specific time period.
Literary criticism is not a book review. Criticism evaluates literature from an academic viewpoint based on a close reading of the text. Book reviews, on the other hand, assess a book primarily on its plot and characters (although detailed book reviews sometimes function as literary criticism). In addition, book reviews are usually found in magazines and newspapers.
Literary criticism often uses literary theory to view a title through a particular lens. For example, a scholar might examine Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland using feminist theory to explore how Alice evolves throughout the novel. Other literary theories include psychoanalytic theory, postcolonial theory, gender/queer theory, critical race theory, and critical disability theory.
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