Literaryhistory.com is a free, public service web site for online literary criticism that has been continuously maintained and updated since 1998. It's a digital library of web sites, in which research material is directly available through links. It began as a demonstration project, meant to show how a free online reference site could replicate the quality and reliability of a traditional library and at the same time take advantage of the possibilities of the internet, linking to photos, sound files, videos, delivering full-text at a click. But at the same time informed editorial oversight is essential. At literaryhistory.com a human editor screens internet articles. Articles that are selected are written by recognized scholars and signed, or what can be even better, by poets commenting on the techniques of other poets, or authors on the fiction of other writers. Introductory articles, usually unsigned, are from reputable organizations and publishers from the print and academic world.
We take no advertising. All the articles and books here have been placed online by other parties, and we link to them only if we're sure they're not in violation of copyright law.
In recent years the newly liberal policy of JSTOR has made it possible even for those of us without passwords to a university library to delve very deeply into serious literary criticism, directly from the JSTOR web site. Literaryhistory.com can't compare to the riches available at JSTOR. We offer a mere sampling, from JSTOR and other sources, of literary criticism that is acceptable for college-level and graduate-level research.
After 18 years on the internet, literaryhistory.com demonstrates that a digital library can be easy to design and code and cheap to publish. The biggest problem in the early years of maintaining this web site was fixing dead links, but this is much less of a chore now, since good material is now less likely to be moved or removed. The primary challenge for us in recent years has been competing with the kind of sites that Google favors. In our early years, Google's algorithm favored sites referred by academic and library web sites, and we were often the first or second result on an author search. This has changed greatly in recent years, and now literaryhistory.com appears very late in a list of Google returns. We don't have the budget to hire a consultant who knows how to game the Google results, so literaryhistory.com has become less and less visible on the internet, even while our quality and the quality of the web sites that we refer to has become better and better. We depend on word of mouth now, so if you find this site useful please let others know.
Jan Pridmore, Editor
Jan Pridmore is an independent scholar who has published literaryhistory.com since 1998.
send email to jpridmore at literaryhistory dot com