Reading (Foreign) Literature?

July 15th, 2011 by Chao Chen

Introductory texts in literary anthologies and collections provide overviews and surveys of an author and his/her works, a literary era, literary style, and so on so forth. The explanatory footnotes enhance an understanding of the works in terms of contemporary culture and literary traditions in which the authors lived and wrote. Hence, the historical significance of the works.

These texts may be good readings to help you contextualize your writers/works and to prepare you for the scholarly articles in journals.  

Pick a Book by Size or Color?

July 15th, 2011 by Chao Chen

Knowing a bit about the different types of books helps a lot in your reading strategy.

1. For example, the following book is what we call, a monograph, which treats a singular topic. It is a comprehensive and extensive study of a topic such as a building, an artist.

You can use this kind of books to fill in gaps in your knowledge about a subject.

Notre Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: the Power of Change in Gothic by Stephen Murray.

2. The next example is what we call “Thematic Studies“.  These are books of chapters and essays related to each other with a sustained argument.

You can pick the relevant chapter or essay for, often, Thought-provoking Arguments on a topic.

Artistic Integration in Gothic Buildings. edited by Virginia Chieffo Raguin, Kathryn Brush, Peter Draper.


Related Posts:

Books for Foreign Literature
Info/Data in Exhibtion/Museum Catalogues

Islamic Manuscripts Online

July 15th, 2011 by Chao Chen

A brief essay with an annotated list of online resources  considered by the author, Sean Swanick, an Islamic Studies librarian at McGill University,  to be of the foremost quality currently available.

Swanick, Sean. “Of making books there is no end’: Islamic manuscripts on the Web“. College & Research Libraries News vol. 72 no. 7 416-419.

Develop Your Search

July 13th, 2011 by Chao Chen

Approach to a topic from many contexts /positions
in order to collect sufficient
and give depth to your argument and reasoning

1. Use the subject databases to situate yourself within a critical discourse; that’s where you can learn to be conversant with the critics writing in your field.

2. Start simply with an artist’s name, Lorna Simpson. (or, titles of artworks.)

3. Examine the initial search results to discover 
           the current scholarship on your topic: 
           “issues” addressed;
            the central debates on these issues,
            evidence and methods applied in analysis of these issues,
            and so on.

4. Sort out various aspects of a topic; how do they connect?

 Take the artist Lorna Simpson as an example:

feminism (method /theory to be applied in your analysis)
women, racism, stereotype (an issue /problem),
Human figure, Human body (a visual theme).

Current State of Research

July 13th, 2011 by Chao Chen


Review of books, and other types of review Articles
in some major journals in a discipline
summarize current state of research on a topic


1. Use keywords such as “review“, “current research“, “current trends” and search in art and art history, and other related journals. For example:

Art Bulletin (1995-present) Art Bulletin (1919-2008)
Art History (extensive scholarly book reviews)

2. Example of Review of books:

Langa, Helen. “Review: Recent Feminist Art History: An American Sampler.” Feminist Studies 30: 3 (2004), 705-730.

Recently Published Reviews (the College Art Association)

3. Examples of review articles:

Westermann, Mariët. “After Iconography and Iconoclasm: Current Research in Netherlandish Art, 1566-1700.” The Art Bulletin 84: 2 (2002), 351-372.

Spector, Jack. “The State of Psychoanalytic Research in Art HistoryArt Bulletin 70: 1 (1988), 47-76.

Gouma-Peterson, Thalia; Mathews, Patricia. “The Feminist Critique of Art HistoryArt Bulletin 69: 3 (1987), 326-357.

** Annual Reviews (Sciences and Social Sciences)