Literary Criticism and Theory

This section is limited to important reference works and histories.

Histories and Surveys


Wellek, René. A History of Modern Criticism, 1750–1950. 8 vols. New Haven: Yale UP, 1955–92. PN86.W4 801.95′09.

  • Vol. 1: The Later Eighteenth Century. 1955. 358 pp.

  • Vol. 2: The Romantic Age. 1955. 459 pp.

  • Vol. 3: The Age of Transition. 1965. 389 pp.

  • Vol. 4: The Later Nineteenth Century. 1965. 671 pp.

  • Vol. 5: English Criticism, 1900–1950. 1986. 343 pp.

  • Vol. 6: American Criticism, 1900–1950. 1986. 345 pp.

  • Vol. 7: German, Russian, and Eastern European Criticism, 1900–1950. 1991. 458 pp.

  • Vol. 8: French, Italian, and Spanish Criticism, 1900–1950. 1992. 369 pp.

A history of Western literary theory and criticism, with excursions into aesthetics, literary history, and practical criticism. Initially restricted to England, Scotland, France, Germany, and Italy, coverage expands to the United States and Russia in vol. 3. Volumes are organized around chapters devoted to major critics, groups, movements, or countries, with each chapter providing summaries of works and theories along with considerations of their place in Western critical thought. Vols. 1–6 and 8 conclude with a chronology, by country, of critical works. Two indexes in vols. 1–6: persons; topics and terms; vol. 7 is indexed by persons. Although some reviewers have objected to Wellek’s definition of criticism, most agree that this is a masterful, balanced, indispensable exposition of modern critical thought. Reviews: (vols. 1–2) Erich Auerbach, Romanische Forschungen 67.3–4 (1956): 387–97; George Watson, Essays in Criticism 7.1 (1957): 81–84; (vols. 3–4) Roger Sale, Hudson Review 19.2 (1966): 324–29; (vols. 5–6) Jonathan Culler, Journal of the History of Ideas 49.2 (1988): 347–51; (vol. 8) Victor Brombert, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 2 July 1993: 25.


The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Ed. Peter Brooks, H. B. Nisbet, and Claude Rawson. 9 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989–2013. PN86.C27 801′.95′09. Online through Cambridge Histories Online (

  • Vol. 1: Classical Criticism. Ed. George A. Kennedy. 1989. 378 pp.

  • Vol. 2: The Middle Ages. Ed. Alastair Minnis and Ian Johnson. 2005. 865 pp.

  • Vol. 3: The Renaissance. Ed. Glyn P. Norton. 1999. 758 pp.

  • Vol. 4: The Eighteenth Century. Ed. Nisbet and Rawson. 1997. 951 pp.

  • Vol. 5: Romanticism. Ed. Marshall Brown. 2000. 493 pp.

  • Vol. 6: The Nineteenth Century. Ed. M. A. R. Habib. 2013. 695 pp.

  • Vol. 7: Modernism and the New Criticism. Ed. A. Walton Litz, Louis Menand, and Lawrence Rainey. 2000. 565 pp.

  • Vol. 8: From Formalism to Poststructuralism. Ed. Raman Selden. 1995. 487 pp.

  • Vol. 9: Twentieth-Century Historical, Philosophical, and Psychological Perspectives. Ed. Christa Knellwolf and Christopher Norris. 2001. 482 pp.

A history of Western literary theory and criticism from classical antiquity to the present. Each volume typically consists of separately authored essays on major theorists, groups, movements or schools, periods, and genres and concludes with a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Indexed by persons and subjects (the online version omits the indexes). Cambridge History of Literary Criticism offers an authoritative, balanced overview of its subject. Review: (vol. 1) Steven Shankman, Modern Philology 90.1 (1992): 80–83.

The best single-volume introduction to Western literary theory and criticism is M. A. R. Habib, A History of Literary Criticism (Malden: Blackwell, 2005; 838 pp.), with chapters devoted to theorists, periods, schools, and movements from Plato to the present. In each chapter, it explains the philosophical and historical context, offers a close reading of keys texts, and places those texts within the critical tradition. Indexed by persons and subjects. With its admirably clear explanation of concepts and terminology, History of Literary Criticism admirably fulfills the promise of its title. Review: Jeremy Tambling, Modern Language Review 102.3 (2007): 812–13.

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2005. 985 pp. PN81.J554 801′.95′0922. Vers. 20121. <>. Updated annually.

An encyclopedia of literary theory from Plato to the present (the twentieth century is “deliberately foreshortened”). In the online version (which includes entries from the first edition [1994] that were omitted in the 2005 edition), the more than 300 signed entries (most by major scholars) consider “critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods” from a North American perspective. Entries tend to be rather fuller than one expects in an encyclopedia and conclude with selective bibliographies (although some have not been adequately updated, e.g., Arnold, Matthew; Bloom, Harold [the list of secondary studies]; and Drama Theory [especially the list of secondary studies]). Two indexes in the print version: individuals discussed in entries; topics. Clicking on any link (except User’s Guide) on the home page will connect to a screen that allows users to browse a list of contents or index of topics or to perform a keyword search of the entire document, text only, or bibliography. Results are ranked by relevance and cannot be sorted; entries can be printed using a Web browser’s print function. Entries added in the online version can be most readily identified by using a browser’s find function to search for “online” in the list of contents. Reviews: (first ed.) Leroy F. Searle, Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 41 (1993): 228–32; (second ed.) Matthew Biberman, English Studies in Canada 31.4 (2005): 215–20; Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review 22 May 2005: 18–19. Although among the best of the numerous encyclopedias and dictionaries of theory and criticism, Johns Hopkins Guide is not for readers unconversant with recent debates in the field, and it must be supplemented by some of the following for twentieth-century developments.

Shortened versions of some of the more important entries in the first two editions of Johns Hopkins Guide—along with new entries emphasizing post-1990s developments—appear in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory: The Johns Hopkins Guide, ed. Groden, Kreiswirth, and Szeman (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012; 521 pp.).

Another of the best of the recent guides, Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide, ed. Patricia Waugh (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006), complements Johns Hopkins Guide by emphasizing twentieth-century critical practices, schools and movements, and emerging theories. Each of the 37 essays typically addresses the history of its topic, explains key concepts or debates, introduces key figures, and concludes with a selected bibliography. Indexed by persons and subjects.

Equally valuable is The Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory, gen. ed. Julian Wolfreys (New York: Continuum, 2002; 882 pp.), which offers 107 lengthy, signed essays on philosophers, critics, schools, groups, and theories important in the history and development of literary theory and cultural studies in Europe, Britain, and North America. An essay typically addresses cultural, intellectual, theoretical, ideological, and historical contexts in assessing the importance of its subject to institutional criticism; each essay concludes with a selective bibliography. Featuring an impressive array of contributors, Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory offers accessible introductions to the current preoccupations of literary and cultural theory.

Anglo-American and French feminist theory in literary studies, psychology, sociology, history, and the arts is more fully treated in Maggie Humm, The Dictionary of Feminist Theory, 2nd ed. (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1995; 354 pp.).

Offering the best interdisciplinary coverage of recent cultural theory is A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory, ed. Michael Payne and Jessica Rae Barbera, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010; 817 pp.). The preponderance of the signed entries (most of which are by leading scholars) are devoted to individuals and isms.

Terms associated with contemporary theoretical schools are more thoroughly covered in Jeremy Hawthorn, A Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory, 4th ed. (London: Arnold; New York: Oxford UP, 2000; 400 pp.), which is notable for its succinct, admirably clear (and occasionally witty) explanations and generous cross-references and for its overview of other glossaries and dictionaries of criticism and theory (xiii–xvi). Hawthorn is complemented by The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism, ed. Joseph Childers and Gary Hentzi (New York: Columbia UP, 1995; 362 pp.; <>), which also offers clear, succinct explanations of terms, groups, and schools of thought. The approximately 450 entries are not signed, but most of them helpfully cite related studies. More extensive discussion of 28 key terms can be found in Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, eds., Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd ed. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995; 486 pp.; online through Credo Reference []); however, entries from the first edition are—inexcusably—not revised to reflect recent scholarship. The best international coverage is offered by Leonard Orr, A Dictionary of Critical Theory (New York: Greenwood, 1991; 464 pp.), which covers Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Sanskrit, and English terms important in critical theory, ancient to contemporary.

See also

Cuddon, A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (C107).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Surveys of Research


Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, [1991– ] (YWCCT). Oxford: Oxford Journals–Oxford UP for the English Assn., 1993– . Annual. PN80.Y43 801′.95′05. <>. Updated regularly.

A selective, evaluative survey of critical and cultural theory that emphasizes literature but also includes media and cultural studies. Chapter topics randomly appear and disappear without explanation. Those showing up with some consistency include psychoanalysis, feminism(s), colonial discourse and postcolonial theory, film theory, Continental philosophy, narrative, multiculturalism, modernisms, translation studies, black cultural studies, testimony (sometimes coupled with trauma), and Marxism and post-Marxism. Those that appear less consistently include semiotics, historicism, queer theories and culture, deconstruction, theories of reading and reception, discourse analysis, popular culture, popular music, virtual cultures, aboriginal identity, culture, art, testimony, religion, Irish studies, science, poststructuralism, immanence, anthropology, media studies, art histories, cultural policy, law and culture, technology (sometimes called technics), sexual difference, genetics, ecocriticism, queer theory and sexualities, poetics, digital media, theater and performance, history and historiography, photography theory, virtual cultures, and—unaccountably—Australian popular culture and media studies and Australian Pacific cultural theory. Indexed (inadequately in many volumes) by persons and subjects. In the chapters that appear randomly, there is little attempt to offer any continuity of coverage. The online version, with coverage beginning with the first volume, publishes chapters as they are copyedited and typeset. The surveys vary in quality and extent of coverage and a print volume now appears about a year after its date of coverage, but Year’s Work offers the only regular, albeit inconsistent, guide to critical and cultural theory.

See also

Greenblatt and Gunn, Redrawing the Boundaries (M1383).

Serial Bibliographies

Given that the New Literary History International Bibliography of Literary Theory and Criticism [1984] (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1988) lasted for only one volume, it is unlikely that one of the major lacunae in literary reference works—a serial bibliography devoted to literary theory and criticism—will ever be filled. The lack of remotely adequate bibliographic control of works on theory and criticism is, ironically, a direct consequence of the hegemonic privileging in academe of theory and the resultant marginalization of such scholarly pursuits as enumerative bibliography.

Other Bibliographies


Marshall, Donald G. Contemporary Critical Theory: A Selective Bibliography. New York: MLA, 1993. 201 pp. Z6514.C97 M37 [PN81] 016.801′95.

A selective bibliography of English-language books (published through 1992) important to the understanding of critical theory and major theorists since c. 1965. Although emphasizing contemporary theory in the United States, Marshall also includes works by important foreign theorists and about earlier theory. Following a section on general studies (including reference works and journals), entries are organized by schools or approaches: Russian formalism and Prague structuralism; new criticism; structuralism and semiotics; poststructuralism and deconstruction; hermeneutics and phenomenology; reader-response theory; psychological and psychoanalytic critical theory; cultural criticism; Marxist critical theory; poststructuralist cultural criticism; literacy, orality, and printing; myth, anthropology, and critical theory; ethnic and postcolonial criticism; and feminist and gender criticism. Each division or subdivision has up to four parts: bibliographies; introductory works; general books and collections; works by and about major theorists of the field. A headnote briefly surveys the development and major figures of each school or movement, or—for theorists—summarizes his or her leading ideas and career. Some entries are briefly annotated with notes on content and an occasional evaluative comment; most, however, are too terse to offer an adequate sense of the substance or importance of a work. Indexed by persons. Although some works have not been examined by Marshall (and although series titles are omitted in citations), Contemporary Critical Theory will provide a convenient guide to those unfamiliar with the cross-currents of recent theory.

Some additional coverage is offered by William Baker and Kenneth Womack, comps., Recent Work in Critical Theory, 1989–1995: An Annotated Bibliography (Westport: Greenwood, 1996; 585 pp.; Bibliogs. and Indexes in World Lit. 51). The entries for 1,876 English-language books (including collections of essays) are organized by author or editor in seven divisions: general criticism; semiotics, narratology, rhetoric, and language systems; postmodernism and deconstruction; reader-response and phenomenological criticism; feminist criticism and gender studies; psychoanalytic criticism; and historical criticism. Two indexes: authors; subjects. Although Recent Work in Critical Theory covers a limited range of years, its succinct but pointed annotations helpfully identify not only works about theory but also those that apply particular theories or approaches.


Orr, Leonard, comp. Research in Critical Theory since 1965: A Classified Bibliography. New York: Greenwood, 1989. 465 pp. Bibliogs. and Indexes in World Lit. 21. Z6514.C97 O77 [PN81] 016.801′95.

A bibliography of books, articles, and American dissertations about critical theory since the mid-1960s. Coverage spans works published in English, French, or German between 1965 and 1987, along with a few major studies through August 1988. The majority of these works are discussions of theory, although “representative” examples of applied studies are included. The approximately 5,500 unannotated entries are listed alphabetically by author in 12 divisions: structuralism; semiotics (excluding narrative semiotics); narratology, narrative text-grammar, and narrative semiotics; psychological criticism; sociological criticism, literature and society; Marxist criticism, literature and politics; feminist criticism and gender criticism; reader-response criticism; reception aesthetics; phenomenological criticism; hermeneutics; and deconstruction, poststructuralist criticism, and postdeconstructive criticism. Since there is no list of the noncurrent MLAIB journal acronyms and abbreviations used, users sometimes will have to search several back volumes of MLAIB (G335) or the online MLA Directory of Periodicals (K615). Three indexes: subjects and major theorists (with each division separately indexed); a general index to the 12 division indexes; authors. Although the volume claims “near comprehensive” coverage, there are many omissions (especially of works listed in MLAIB [G335] and ABELL [G340], both of which the compiler purportedly searched). In fact, the bulk of the entries seem to be copied out of a few major serial bibliographies—but uncritically and without full awareness of where to search in each. Inefficiently and incompletely indexed, inconsistent in citation form, poorly proofread, and seriously incomplete, Research in Critical Theory must be used cautiously, even in preliminary searches for works about modern critical theories.

See also

Secs. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts; H: Guides to Dissertations and Theses; and U: Literature-Related Topics and Sources/Composition and Rhetoric/Guides to Scholarship/Surveys of Research.

ABELL (G340): Literature, General/Literary Criticism in the volumes for 1922–67; Literature, General/Literary Criticism/General in the volumes for 1968–72; Literary History and Criticism/General in the volume for 1973; English Literature/General/Literary History and Criticism in the volumes for 1974–84; and English Literature/General/Literary Theory and the Literary Theory sections in period subdivisions in later volumes.

Brier and Arthur, American Prose and Criticism, 1900–1950 (Q4345).

Brown and Thesing, English Prose and Criticism, 1900–1950 (M2900).

LLBA: Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (U6015).

MLAIB (G335): General/Aesthetics and Literary Criticism in the volumes for 1933–50; General/Aesthetics, and General/Literary Criticism in the volumes for 1951–53; General I: Aesthetics and Literary Criticism in the volumes for 1954–56; General II: Aesthetics, Literary Criticism, and Literary Theory [or Aesthetics and Literary Criticism] in the volumes for 1957–66; General I: Aesthetics, and General II: Literary Criticism and Theory in the volumes for 1967–80; Criticism and Literary Theory divisions in pt. 4 of the volumes for 1981–89; and the Literary Theory and Criticism division in pt. 4 of the later volumes. Researchers must also consult the “Criticism,” “Literary Theory,” and “Literary Theory and Criticism” headings (along with those beginning with “Critical”) in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

Partridge, American Prose and Criticism, 1820–1900 (Q4205).

Somer and Cooper, American and British Literature, 1945–1975 (M2800).

YWES (G330): Chapters on literary history and criticism and (since vol. 62 [1981]) on literary theory.

Types, Schools, and Movements

Feminist Criticism

For a succinct overview of recent developments in feminist and gender criticism, see Anne Donadey and Françoise Lionnet, “Feminisms, Genders, Sexualities,” pp. 225–44 in Nicholls, Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures (A25).

Guides to Reference Works

For an important discussion of the obstacles facing researchers in feminist criticism and women’s studies, an evaluation of their treatment in standard bibliographies, and a list of bibliographic resources, see Marlene Manoff, “Tools for Feminist and Women’s Studies Scholars in Literature: Issues and Problems,” Bibliography in Literature, Folklore, Language, and Linguistics: Essays on the Status of the Field, ed. David William Foster and James R. Kelly (Jefferson: McFarland, 2003) 48–69.

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory. Ed. Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace. New York: Garland, 1997. 449 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1582. PN98.W64 E53 801′.95′082.

A dictionary of concepts, terms, and persons important to Anglo-American feminist literary theory, especially since 1970. The signed entries are generously full, and each concludes with a selective bibliography (unfortunately current only through 1994). Although a substantial number of contributions are by graduate students rather than established scholars, Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory offers a solid overview of the field as of the mid-1990s.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Nordquist, Joan, comp. Feminist Literary Theory: A Bibliography. Santa Cruz: Reference and Research Services, 1998. 64 pp. Social Theory: A Bibliog. Ser. 52. Z6514.C97 N67 [HQ76.25] 016.30676′6.

A bibliography of English-language writings (through 1997) about feminist literary theory. Entries are unnecessarily separated into books and articles under divisions for general works, Latinas, African American women, Asian American women, Native American women, women of color, Third World women, other ethnic groups and countries, lesbian literary theory, and reference works. Although restricted to English-language publications, taking several entries from other sources rather than using a firsthand examination, and lacking an index, this bibliography does offer a place to begin when searching for discussions of feminist theory. However, researchers must also search the serial bibliographies in section G, especially MLAIB (G335), which the compiler claims to have searched but which includes a substantial number of works that were apparently overlooked.

Complemented by Nordquist, Feminist Theory: A Bibliography (Santa Cruz: Reference and Research Services, 1992; 76 pp.; Social Theory: A Bibliog. Ser. 28) and Feminist Theory II: A Bibliography (2000; 67 pp.; Social Theory: A Bibliog. Ser. 60), both of which include a section on feminist literary criticism and theory.


Humm, Maggie. An Annotated Critical Bibliography of Feminist Criticism. Boston: Hall, 1987. 240 pp. Harvester Annotated Critical Bibliogs. Z7963.F44 H85 [HQ1206] 016.3054′2.

A selective bibliography of books and articles, through 1985, representing feminist criticism in England and the United States. Although Humm includes numerous fugitive and limited circulation items, the criteria determining selection are unclear. Entries are organized by publication date in divisions for theory and sexual politics; literary criticism; sociology, politics, and economics; arts, film, theater, media, and music; psychology; history; anthropology and myth; and education and women’s studies. Unfortunately, many of the descriptive annotations do not convey an adequate sense of content. Two indexes: subjects; scholars. Although the work is valuable for its breadth, the high degree of selectivity means that Humm is only a place to begin research.

Additional English-language articles utilizing a feminist approach are listed in Wendy Frost and Michele Valiquette, Feminist Literary Criticism: A Bibliography of Journal Articles, 1975–1981 (New York: Garland, 1988; 867 pp.; Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 784). The approximately 1,950 entries, culled from 450 scholarly and popular periodicals, are accompanied by lists of indexing terms that are the bases for the indexes of subjects, literary authors, and scholars. Although far from complete even within its seven-year period of coverage, with the choice of many journals depending more on availability than on other criteria, this work does isolate a considerable number of studies using a feminist approach.

See also

Gilbert and Tatla, Women’s Studies: A Bibliography of Dissertations, 1870–1982 (U6615).

Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (U6133) sometimes devotes a chapter to feminist criticism and theory.

Marxist Criticism


Bullock, Chris, and David Peck, comps. Guide to Marxist Literary Criticism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1980. 176 pp. Z2014.C8 B84 [PR77] 801′.95.

An annotated bibliography of English-language studies (published through mid-1979) of English, English Canadian, and American literature and culture. Bullock also includes non-Marxist criticism (identified by the acronym NM) on Marxist works or writers as well as studies important in the development of Marxist criticism. The unevenly and inconsistently annotated entries are classified in sections for bibliographies; collections; journals; general Marxist criticism; national literatures (genre and period studies); individual authors; teaching English; language, linguistics, and literacy; literature and society (sociology and literature); and mass culture. Most unfortunate, however, is the failure to include studies already listed in published bibliographies of Marxist criticism on an author or critic. Users must study the introduction to understand the organization, the confusing numbering system, and the cross-listings practices. Not explained in the introduction is that journal acronyms are identified only in the section listing journals (pp. 6–7). The two indexes are inexplicably restricted to critics “who have at least three separate items in different sections” and to topics “that are treated in at least three items.” Despite these shortcomings and several significant omissions, Guide to Marxist Literary Criticism is a useful compilation of studies not easily identified in standard bibliographies. Reviews: James Steele, English Studies in Canada 9.4 (1983): 527–32 (with numerous additions); Michael Wilding, Modern Language Review 78.3 (1983): 632–34.

See also

Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (U6133) sometimes devotes a chapter to Marxist criticism and theory.

Postcolonial Criticism

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias

Nayar, Pramod K. The Postcolonial Studies Dictionary. Malden: Wiley, 2015. 189 pp. PN56.P55N38 2015 805'.911.

Simple in form and easy to use—and considerably shorter but more current than Thieme’s Post-colonial Studies (U6180)—this dictionary of terms represents an important tool for scholars and students working in postcolonial literary studies. Inspired by an increasing number of modes of critical inquiry influenced by the sciences, philosophy, and materialism, this thin volume expands the concept of the postcolonial to include modern concepts such as e-diasporas, labor, and biopolitics, to name a few.

The body of the book consists of an alphabetically arranged list of terms with extensive definitions of words and concepts as they pertain to postcolonial studies, often including histories of the development of terms. Definitions usually fall between half a page and three pages and can be particularly useful for scholars and students who are new to postcolonial scholarship. Concludes with a lengthy list of resources; articles include cross-references.


Thieme, John. Post-colonial Studies: The Essential Glossary. London: Arnold–Hodder Headline, 2003. 303 pp. JV22.T45 325.303.

An interdisciplinary guide to concepts, major figures, movements, historical events, cultural forms, journals, organizations, and terms associated with postcolonial studies. Entries (which tend to be longer than is usual in such handbooks) typically conclude with suggestions for further reading. Post-colonial Studies is a serviceable guide to the terminology of a still-emerging field.

Also serviceable is Gina Wixker, Key Concepts in Postcolonial Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007; 248 pp.; Palgrave Key Concepts), though users will have to remember that entries are dispersed among three headings: contexts (history, politics, and culture); texts (themes, issues, and concepts); criticism (approaches, theory, and practice). Entries conclude with suggestions for further reading.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism
Serial Bibliographies

““Bibliography of Articles and Books Published in English on Colonialism and Imperialism in [1999– ]”.” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 1.1 (2000– ). JV1 325.

An unannotated list of English-language studies of colonialism, postcolonialism, and imperialism. Entries are currently listed alphabetically by author or editor in three sections: books, journal articles, and essays in edited collections (since 4.2 [2003]); the first installment includes a section for book reviews. Although coverage ranges well beyond literary studies, the bibliography is unduly limited by its restriction to English-language publications.

Other Bibliographies

Nordquist, Joan, comp. Postcolonial Theory: A Bibliography. Santa Cruz: Reference and Research Services, 1998. 60 pp. Social Theory: A Bibliog. Ser. 50. Z7164.C7 N67 016.325′3.

———. Postcolonial Theory (II): Literature and the Arts. Santa Cruz: Reference and Research Services, 1999. 63 pp. Social Theory: A Bibliog. Ser. 55. Z7164.C7 N675.

A bibliography of English-language writings (through 1999) about postcolonial theory and by and about three prominent theorists and three critics of postcolonialism. Entries are unnecessarily separated into books and articles under divisions for general studies, postcolonial theory and women, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Aijaz Ahmad, Arif Dirlik, and Epifanio San Juan, Jr. (all in the 1998 volumes) and (in the 1999 volume) under divisions for general works, specific countries and nationalities (followed by an index), women’s literature (followed by an index), drama, film, art and architecture, music, education, psychology and psychoanalysis, and bibliographies. Although restricted to English-language publications, taking many entries from other sources rather than a firsthand examination, and lacking an index to all the entries, Nordquist offers a place to begin when searching for discussions of postcolonial theory.

However, researchers must also consult the serial bibliographies in section G, especially MLAIB (G335), which the compiler claims to have searched but which includes a substantial number of works that were apparently overlooked.

Researchers interested in the development of postcolonial theory should consult Postcolonial Theory: The Emergence of a Critical Discourse: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography, ed. Dieter Riemenschneider (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004; 211 pp.; ZAA Studies: Lang., Lit., Culture 17), which offers a chronological, annotated bibliography of studies through 1990 important to the development of postcolonial theory. Studies from 1991–99 are relegated to a bibliographical essay.

See also

Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (U6133) sometimes devotes a chapter to colonial discourse and postcolonial theory.

Postmodernist Criticism

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia of Postmodernism. Ed. Victor E. Taylor and Charles E. Winquist. London: Routledge, 2001. 466 pp. B831.2.E63 149′.97′03.

An encyclopedia of terms, disciplines, and individuals associated with postmodernist studies in the arts, social sciences, and humanities. The signed entries, which typically conclude with a selective bibliography, emphasize postmodernism as an ongoing process. Entries on concepts helpfully summarize the history and positions of key theorists, but some definitions suffer from a lack of clarity (e.g., “desire,” “indeterminacy,” and “margin”) and most would benefit from more attention to how a concept is applied. Indexed by persons and subjects; entrants are also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565). Although lacking an adequate explanation of principles governing the selection of entries, Encyclopedia of Postmodernism offers readers an adequate introduction to the terminology and theorists central to postmodernist studies.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism


Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (U6133) sometimes devotes a chapter to modernisms.

Psychological Criticism


Kiell, Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and Literature (U6540).

Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (U6133) sometimes devotes a chapter to psychoanalytic theory and criticism.