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Library Resources for Art and Art History  

Guide to art and art history research resources available at SNC.
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Annotated Bibliography

1.  What is an Annotated Bibliography?

It's a regular bibliography (list of sources) in properly cited format, with the addition of paragraphs summarizing what the source is about.  You might be asked to do this before your write a paper.

2.  Can I use my textbook as a source?

Yes and no.  It doesn't count as one of your required sources (because the pont of that is for you to go find stuff, not use what you already have). But if it has good info in it, and you want to use it go ahead.  Just remember to cite it and add it to your works cited page.

3.  Can I write about this guy I heard of once who makes really cool rock-and-roll posters?

Technically, yes.  However, if you choose a topic that your instructor never heard of, the librarian has never heard of, Google has never heard of, and God has never head of, you are going to have a horrible time finding three actual books on the subject.

4.  Can you help me find some books on my subject?

Make a real effort before your ask your instructor, because if it is obvious you haven't tried, they're probably not going to try either.  But, if you ask your instructor, this: I've found these three books in the library on my topic but they don't seem to be specific enough.  I also searched the New York Times using my search terms and that didn't get much.  Can you help me narrow my search? You instructor will be thrilled to help.

5.  Why did I get a "D" on my annotated bibliography?

Is it in MLA format? Does it have too many or too few sources? Are there any sources that have "encyclopedia," "-ipedia," "wiki," "," "blogspot," "" or other equivalent types of words in them will be marked off as unacceptable sources. 

6.  Why do I have to do MLA format?

When you do research, it has to be checkable. Not so you can get a grade but so your reader can follow up on your resources that look interesting to them. The system is a consistent way to make sure all the necessary information is is available. 



Where Do I Start?

1.  Pick a Topic - some general suggestions

  • Go to the art section of the library (LC classification "N") and find a book that looks interesting.
  • Flip through the textbook and find a piece of artwork you like.
  • Think about an issue discussed in class that interests you.
  • Find an example of your own medium (painting, pottery, etc.) and compare it to your work
  • Write about an artist you care about.
  • Look through a list of suggested topics.
  • Make an appointment with your instructor if you are struggling with a topic selection.

2.  Write a Thesis Question

Narrow your topic by writing a Thesis Question that you will try to answer in your paper.  After that, it will be easy to outline your evidence to answer this question, and your paper will end with a Concluding Statement which summarizes your answer to the original question.  Some examples:

  • When and why did Picasso switch from realistic art to Cubism?
  • What are some of the reasons why ancient Egyptions portrayed the body way they did?
  • Why is graffiti often considered vandalism instead of art?

3.  Gather Sources and Create an Annotated Bibliography

  • You will need to have scholarly sources, including actual books and journal/newspaper articles.  This research guide is a good place to start.
  • Be sure to use proper MLA citation style to create your bibliography entries.

4.  Write a Rough Draft

Even if you are not required to submit a rough draft, it is a good idea to plan ahead so you have time to write.  Your instructor will almost certainly be willing to look at a draft, if you give him or her a reasonable amount of time.

5.  Write Your Paper

  • Pay attention to the length your instructor requested.  She said "five pages" because she doesn't want to read six and thought four was too few.
  • Include proper MLA citation for all quoted or paraphrased sources.
  • Include your Bibliography/Works Cited page at the back.  (This doesn't count as one of your pages.)
  • Have at least one person read your paper before you turn it in!



Some Helpful Books

Cover Art
A Survival Guide for Art History Students - Christina Maranci
Call Number: N 7443 .M37 2005
ISBN: 0131401971

Cover Art
The Grove Book of Art Writing
Call Number: N 7443 .G727 2000
ISBN: 0802137202

Cover Art
A Short Guide to Writing About Art - Sylvan, Barnet
Call Number: N 7476 .B37 2011
ISBN: 0205708250


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