I have to write an essay on "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker. One of the requirements is that we need a critique of the story from the time when it came out. Basically we have to write about how...

I have to write an essay on "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker. One of the requirements is that we need a critique of the story from the time when it came out. Basically we have to write about how people responded to the story. I'm having trouble finding such a critique and I was wondering if you can help me find one.

Asked on by ruchiek97

1 Answer

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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This is a very well-designed project in what is known as "reception studies," a genre of literary criticism that explores the ways in which people have reacted to a single work over an extended period of time. There are several ways you can go about finding critical works on the story from the 1970s.

Because this short story was originally published as part of a collection of Walker's short stories called In Love and Trouble, when you search for reviews in various databases or search engines, you should always do two searches, one using the name of the story and the other using the name of the collection.

Start your research by searching academic databases. These should be available through your university website. The two most important ones for your purpose will be the MLA International Bibliography and JStor. Both bibliographies have advanced search functions that allow you to restrict your searches to specific date ranges.

Book Review Digest and other EBSCO databases, also available through your library website, contain many thousands of book reviews and also allow for date restricted searches. The reference desk at your library can help you if you are struggling with how to use these databases.

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