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Macdonald DeWitt Library at SUNY Ulster

American Literature: Get Started

ENG 204

Summary v. Critique

Critical analysis of a work of literature is not the same as a summary. A summary gives an overview of the setting, plot, characters and major themes. Critical analysis is the author's interpretation of how those elements work together toward creating meaning in the literary work. 

You will find both summaries and critiques in the library's literature databases. Use the summaries to help you get your thoughts in order. However, you should not be citing summaries in a research paper. 

When writing your own analysis, imagine you are writing for someone who has already read the work of literature. You do not need to retell major plot points. Instead, you are explaining how different pieces work together to support your thesis or interpretation. 

Need more writing help? Free tutoring available for students:

The Writing Center
Vanderlyn Building, Room 247 (VAN 247)
Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
(845) 687-5039

Reference Ebooks

Use the following reference works to develop a historical and cultural context for a particular work of literature or theme. You can search the full text of each title from its landing page.

Books and Ebooks

Find books and ebooks about an author, work or theme. The library has a great collection of print resources. The information you need cannot all be found online.

DiscoverDeWitt

Databases for Literary Analysis