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Arts in Cultural Context: RUS 0871

Research help for the course, RUS 0871: Arts in Cultural Context.

Why Use Reference Works?

Hand flipping through an open bookQuestion: What value lies in a reference work? Why, for example, would a researcher bother to consult a scholarly encyclopedia? 

Answer: Reference works provide great overviews. They help researchers contextualize their topics and begin to ask the right questions. They also help with generating search terms to use when later searching in research databases.  Moreover, reference works contain bibliographies that lead researchers to the most respected secondary and most useful primary sources on a topic.

In short, reference works are a great way to begin your research. 

Get Background Info

Individual looking up informationNeed to look up a name, place, term, or event?  The sources below contain many different kinds of encyclopedias and dictionaries and are excellent starting points for getting an overview on your topic as well as possible search terms to use later. Try them.

Get Topic Ideas

Individual thinkingThink about topics that interest you. To generate some ideas, try the sources below. They offer background information on current events and controversial topics. And, they give both sides of an issue, so you can develop a better understanding of the topic.

Biographies & Biographical Overviews

silhouette of two individualsBiographies and autobiographies provide insights into individuals' lives and achievements. Biographies come in all shapes and sizes: some offer just factual information (full name, birth and death dates, place of birth, career history, etc.) while others provide more in-depth essays as well as references for further reading.

The sources below contain brief biographies or biographical overviews on individuals. Many also point to other resources about an individual, including related news stories, book-length biographies, and/or author interviews.

Find a Focus