It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Excerpts and full text of articles and essays providing critical discussion of authors and their works.
- Children’s Literature Review
- Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism
- Contemporary Literary Criticism
- Dictionary of Literary Biography
- Drama Criticism
- Literature Criticism 1400-1800
- Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism
- Poetry Criticism
- Shakespearean Criticism (see index information)
- Short Story Criticism
- Something About the Authors
- Twentieth Century Literary Criticism
"The Living Theatre was formed in 1947 by Judith Malina and Julian Beck. Inspired by psychologist Wilhelm Reich's theories and Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty, it was created as an alternative to the commercial theater of the time."
"A uniquely American art form, the stage musical was born out of a combination of European-style operetta, nonmusical plays into which popular songs were interspersed, minstrel shows, and other stage performances that featured music, dancing, and comedy."
DC 34: 147-360
- overviews & general studies, 149-78
- race & the musical, 178-256
- women & the musical, 256-84
- Rodgers & Hammerstein, 284-319
- Stephen Sondheim, 319-44
- other major figures, 344-58
The term "Cavalier" denotes a literary movement that flourished from 1625 to 1649, characterized by its practitioners' use of lighthearted wit, elegant mannerisms, amourous and sometimes erotic themes, and adherence to upper-class values.
"specifically refers to works produced during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603), but the term is also commonly applied to plays written during the rule of her two immediate successors, James I and Charles I, up to the time of Parliament's closing of the public theaters in 1642."
"The Caroline period in English literature is generally understood to encompass the years 1625 through 1649. The masque met its greatest success during the Caroline era. According to Glynne Wickham, masques are essentially lavish & costly amateur dramas based upon primitive religion, romance literature, & spectacle. Twentieth-century theater historians recognize masques as invaluable for having helped establish the wide use of proscenium staging, still widely employed today."
LC 34: 1-88
- overviews & general studies, 1-27
- the nature of dramatic performances, 27-42
- the medieval worldview & the mystery cycles, 43-67
- the doctrine of repentance & the mystery cycles, 67-76
- the fall from grace in the mystery cycles, 76-88
"The reign of Louis XIV in France from 1643 to 1715 marked a period that is often described as the "Golden Age" of French drama. Producing such dramatists as Jean Racine, Pierre and Thomas Corneille, and Molière, the theater of the period is noted for classicism, social commentary, and a growing audience outside the royal court."
"The masque was a form of entertainment popular in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which was specifically designed for an aristocratic audience, and which was noted for the extravagance and splendor of its performances."
"Noh, which developed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and saw its high point in the 1400s, is a highly stylized, abstract, and philosophical Japanese dramatic form that emphasizes the spiritual aspects of human action and emotion."
"(Also called the War of the Theaters, the Poets' War, the Battle of the Stages, and the Stage Quarrel.) Public quarrel among four leading Elizabethan playwrights, presented in their dramatic works produced between 1599 and 1602."
Ben Jonson, John Marston, Thomas Dekker, & William Shakespeare
"The revenge tragedy drama of English literature generally refers to a body of dramatic works written from the mid-1580s to the early 1640s, from the Elizabethan to the Caroline period. Typically, these works feature such themes and devices as a wronged revenge-seeker, ghosts, madness, delay, sinister intrigue, a play-within-the-play, torture, multiple murders, and the realistic depiction of bloody violence onstage."
focuses on the writings, influences and interests of the seven classically educated dramatists--Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Thomas Nashe, Robert Greene, and John Lyly--collectively known as the "University Wits," who were a major force in English theater in the 1580s and 1590s.
"Realism first had a great impact on novel writing and only later spread to drama, where, championed by such notable figures as Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and August Strindberg, it revolutionized the construction of plays as well as acting and staging."
NCLC 156: 134-281
- overview, 136-39
- historical & social context, 139-57
- contemporary descriptions of the new woman, 157-65
- the new woman & popular fiction, 165-86
- the new woman & the decadents, 187-207
- the new woman & the theater, 207-48
- Henry James, Bram Stoker, & Others, 248-80
"The Newgate novel was a popular & controversial type of fiction featuring a criminal protagonist that appeared in Great Britain during the 1830s and 1840s. Despite the critical controversy surrounding these works, the Newgate theme was extremely popular with readers and with audiences who attended the frequent theatrical adaptations of the novels."
TCLC 242: 47-168
- political drama & the Communist Movement, 49-83
- political drama in the Cold War years, 83-140
- political drama & the Civil Rights Movement: the late 1950s and '60s, 140-61
- political drama & Women's Movement: the late 1960s through the '80s, 161-67
"The 'proletarian period' of American literature spans roughly one decade, from the founding of the New Masses literary journal in 1926 through the early World War II years of the late 1930s. The writers of proletarian fiction, poetry, drama & journalism generally embraced Marxian social theory, rejected 'bourgeois literature' -- which encompassed virtually all traditional & mainstream works--and sought to initiate radical social change through the power of the pen & the press."
TCLC 54: 86-175
- overviews & general studies, 87-95
- American proletarian literature & the American Communist Party, 95-111
- ideology & literary merit, 111-17
- novels, 117-36
- Gastonia, 136-48
- drama, 148-54
- journalism, 154-9
- proletarian literature in the U.S., 159-74
"The term Angry Young Men applies to a group of young dramatists, novelists, & poets--including Kingsley Amis, Colin Wilson, John Osborne, John Wain, John Braine, Alan Sillitoe, & Philip Larkin, among others--who began writing in the post-WWII period in Britain."
"The Dadaists believed that the carnage of World War I was evidence of the failure of western institutions, and consequently they rejected culturally sanctioned values and conventions in art. The result was uninhibited experimentation with forms of 'anti-art': poetry composed in invented languages, plays performed with inaudible dialogue, objects such as snow shovels & urinals exhibited as works of art, and numerous other displays of flamboyant nonsense designed as an affront to traditional aesthetics."
"Among the most frequently treated subjects in literature, death--present as a theme, symbol, or plot device--exists as one of the defining elements in the writing of modern poets, dramatists, and novelists."
TCLC 38: 97-226
- overviews & general studies, 97-119
- film & theater, 119-34
- film & the novel, 134-45
- the art of the screenplay, 145-66
- genre literature/genre film, 167-79
- the writer & the film industry, 179-90
- authors on film adaptations of their works, 190-200
- fiction into film: comparative essays, 200-23
"The literature associated with fin de siècle was written roughly in the final decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. As the phrase fin de siècle refers to both an end and a beginning, the literature of the time period is often rife with contradictions, swinging between a mood of decadence & despair as well as hope & modernism."
"Popular music in America underwent a period of unprecedented artistic development in the years between World War I and World War II, an era know as the Golden Age of American Popular Song. Characteristic songs of the period are collectively termed "Tin Pan Alley." Often written for musical comedies, Tin Pan Alley songs now are perceived as independent works and are studied for the ways in which they define American culture."
"Italian Futurism was one of the most influential cultural movements of the early twentieth century. Organized & publicized by Italian poet & dramatist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the movement encompassed virtually every aspect of literature and the fine arts."
"McCarthyism refers to events of the period approximately between 1950 & 1954, during which Joseph R. McCarthy led ruthless Senate investigations of alleged Communist Party members & sympathizers in the U.S. The theater of the time responded to McCarthy's campaign: plays such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge (1955), Maxwell Anderson's Barefoot in Athens (1951), William Saroyan's The Slaughter of the Innocents (1957), Robert Ardrey's Sing Me No Lullaby (1954), and Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee's Inherit the Wind (1955) directly or indirectly address the themes of the period. Broadway & Hollywood artists were particularly targeted by McCarthy and many were blacklisted & prevented from working."
"Modern Irish literature is generally considered to have begun after the Irish Literary Renaissance (which spanned the years from 1855 to 1940). Irish drama since WWII often is considered to be dominated by the Absurdist works of Samuel Beckett, whose Waiting for Godot (1954) is considered the best example, and Brian Friel, whose play Translations (1981) attempts to debunk the stereotype of the ignorant Irish perpetuated by writers of the Irish Renaissance."
"The modern period in Japanese literature dates from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 & encompasses the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), and Showa (1926-present) periods in Japanese political history. In drama, the stylized traditional forms of no, kabuki, and bunraku were maintained by classicists, although translations of Western theatrical productions and the development of shingeki, or 'new drama' have gained prominence since WWII"
"Theater of the Absurd" was established as a literary term by English critic Martin Esslin, whose 1960 essay and 1961 book of that title proposed that significant similarities could be observed in the works of a diverse group of dramatists writing in the 1950s and that these shared traits constituted a new and distinct type of theater.
TCLC 38: 339-415
- "The Theater of the Absurd," 340-7
- major plays & playwrights, 347-58
- and the concept of the absurd, 358-86
- theatrical techniques, 386-94
- predecessors of, 394-402
- influence of, 402-13