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ENWR 1510: Writing About Contemporary Art

Research guide for students in Annyston Pennington's Fall 2020 ENWR 1510 class.

Preparing for Research

This guide was created to help you prepare for your annotated bibliography research project for ENWR 1510 and as a general guide to resources related to art. 

In preparation for your annotated bibliography assignment, in addition to think about what kind of information you are seeking, you will also want to spend some time thinking about how you will conduct your research. 

  • Fine-tune your searches.
    Think broadly when brainstorming search terms. What synonyms or related terms could stand in for your key search terms?
    You can combine search terms using AND (Aguilar AND painting AND photographs) and OR (activism OR advocacy OR championing). Place terms you want to be searched as a phrase in quotation marks " ". 
    In many databases, the asterisk (*) is a truncation or "wildcard" symbol  that will match all possible endings for a word stem.  For example, sex* will match sexism, sexual, sexuality, sexualize, sexless, etc. 
    Most databases have filters or facets that allow you to narrow your results by subject, date range, etc. Limit your searches to help you find the sources you need. 

     
  • Think about where you might find the type of information you are seeking.
    Will you find the research you need in an e-book? An article? A newspaper? A documentary? An interview? For this assignment, you will likely be looking for journal articles and/or essays/chapters from books. In general, though, when conducting research cast a wide net when looking for the types of resources that could help answer your research question or support an argument you are making. 

     
  • Know the difference between academic and non-academic sources, and when it's appropriate to use them.
    Most databases allow you to limit results to academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. Be mindful of your assignment and what you're being asked to provide. Need a refresher? Watch the short video Peer Review in 3 Minutes.

     
  • When you find a good source, use it to find other good sources. 
    Use the subject terms and keywords associated with an item to find other items on similar topics. Scholarly books and articles will have works cited, bibliographies, or footnotes you can mine for additional resources. 

Need help? Ask a librarian.  

Finding articles

Databases for Researching Art  (See an A-Z list of all databases

Art Full Text includes articles and art reproductions in all arts media from selected periodicals. Covers 1984-present. Abstracts are included from 1994 on; full-text of articles from some journals from 1997 on.

Art Index Retro includes articles and art reproductions in all arts media from selected periodicals. Covers 1929-1984. Abstracts are included from 1994 on; full-text of articles from some journals from 1997 on.

ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) includes abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews on all forms of modern and contemporary art published since the late 1960s.

Oxford Art Online is a comprehensive encyclopedia of the visual arts of Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific with links to tens of thousands of images.

Database for searching a wide range of multidisciplinary topics 

Academic Search Complete is a large general database of articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers on many topics. Updated daily, it can be the best source for resources about very current topics.

Databases for searching for newspaper articles 

Newspaper Source Plus provides the full text of major American newspapers and some foreign newspapers plus selected stories from other US regional newspapers. Also includes full-text of transcripts for television and radio network news broadcasts.

NexisUni includes news and business information from sources around the world; book reviews, biographical, and other reference sources; U.S. Code, constitution, and court cases. Includes many newspapers. Most entries are full-text, some updated daily.

Finding books & articles using Virgo

Virgo, the UVA Library’s primary search tool, contains catalog records for books, print journals, DVDs, maps, and digitized materials, as well as links to online articles from our rich array of subscription journals. You can search catalog materials and articles together - a regular search will provide tabs for books, articles, and other materials. You can also use the Filter tools on the left  to limit your results by author, format, publication date, and more. To find online, set the Availability filter to Online to limit your catalog search results. 

Example subject terms related to art & artists:

  • African American artists -- 21st century
  • Art and social action
  • Art and society -- United States
  • Art - Economic Aspects 
  • Art, Modern - 21st century 
  • Art - Political Aspects 
  • Ecology in Art 
  • Feminism and art
  • Identity (Psychology) in art
  • Installations (Art)
  • Interactive Art 
  • Memorialization -- United States
  • Mural painting and decoration, American
  • Pop art
  • Portrait drawing, American
  • Still-life painting 
  • Time in art

Example Print Books & E-Books of Interest