A Perfect Article Leads to More

July 13th, 2011 by Chao Chen


Search, in Arts and Humanizes Citation Index, for the article you have read. 

 For example:

Neff, Amy. “The Pain of ‘Compassio’: Mary’s Labor at the Foot of the Cross.Art Bulletin 80: 2 (1998), 254-273.
References: 146 Times Cited: 10

You can, then, look up, in the record, the 146 references that Amy Neff cited for her article and, in turn, 10 articles that cited hers. The assumption is that these articles address related issues.


1. Not every single article is cited;
2. Influential articles are cited more often, naturally;
3. More recent articles take time to be cited.

Me, Critique scholarly articles?

July 13th, 2011 by Chao Chen

a person turning the page of a huge book

A systematic approach in your reading helps you consider the article critically:

1. What is the thesis?

"A good critique is really more about your own confidence as a reader than about possession of specific knowledge.”

2. What are the primary and secondary sources used? 

3. How does the author connect these sources? 

4. Does the author agree or disagree with the secondary sources?  

5. What is the main methodology in the author’s analysis and argument? (formalism or feminism in art history, for example) 

6. Is the author clear in his/her logic and presentation

7. Are the conclusions convincing

Source: A Survival Guide for Art History Students by Professor Christina Maranci
Tisch Library, Oversize: N385 .M37 2005

Come to a Search-Word Party!

July 13th, 2011 by Chao Chen

Where & Who:
The Subject-specific databases are where scholars gather and chat about their research.

Your calling cards to join the party:

in your syllabus, course reserves, etc.

First Group of Search Words:

*People: an artist, a (literary) writer, an architect, an art historian/critic, a filmmaker/director, authors of books/articles, etc.

*Objects: buildings, works of art, movies, novels, titles of books/articles, etc.

Second Group of Search Words:

*Theoretical approaches /Theme/Genre/Style/Case Studies: post-colonialism, road films, video art, magic realism, Gothic architecture,  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as a case study in discussing a current art museum issue, etc.

*Time/Cultural/Geographical locations, when applicable: medieval Spain, etc.

**A logical combination of any of the above elements to state their connections and contextualize your search. (Simple Tricks; Magic Results)

The Dinner Party Game:

*Use the above search words  for your initial searches in the databases.

*You will learn, through search results, scholarly discussions on your potential topic (imagine yourself listening in on the dinner party conversations among scholars in your field.).

*A search simply by names of people or titles focuses on an essential element in a topic, while opens to all possible perspectives and approaches towards a subject. From the breadth of such search results, you have the flexibility in pursuing any narrower focus that interests you.

**The dinner party image is from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF. ( http://etc.usf.edu/clipart.)

Sports Uniforms

July 12th, 2011 by Chao Chen

Speaking of fashion and costume, Sports Uniforms was a tentative paper idea for the course, “Sports as Performance”:

“For my paper topic I was thinking about looking at different sports uniforms.  I could discuss the performance of gender and the theatrical quality of some sports’ “costumes,” and maybe one I do some research I will have to narrow my topic.” 

 Jackson College women's basketball team on court   “Unknown. “Jackson College women’s basketball team on court” 1939. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/37838  (July 12, 2011).

The  faculty felt that this might be bit of a tough topic for the student,  but the professor also added in the email to me:

I think it’s really original and interesting, so i hope she can pull it off.” “She will probably need your help to figure out how to approach it and where to find some sources, particularly on the history of costume in theatre and history of sport uniforms…)

I must say I enjoy my work as  a research librarian most of the time; I get to read a lot. Let’s get to work on this one now.

Here is  a start. A line of inquiry might suggest itself;   by that time, new questions will lead other databases.

1. For a historical account or cases of sports uniforms, the database, America: History and Life, provides these citations:

Bloomers and Beyond: North Carolina Women’s Basketball Uniforms, 1901-1997. Southern Cultures 1997 3(3): 52-67 16p.
(request through InterLibrary Loan)

Warner, Patricia Campbell. The Comely Rowers: The Beginnings Of Collegiate Sports Uniforms For Women Crew At Wellesley, 1876-1900. Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 1992 10(3): 64-75.

Lee, James. This Club Does Not Play In Fashion’s Dress. International Journal of the History of Sport 2007 24(11): 1421-1429.

Tisch library has the following documents and books:

Sarah A. Gordon “Any desired length: negotiating gender through sports clothing, 1870-1925.” In Beauty and business: commerce, gender, and culture in modern America, edited by Philip Scranton. New York: Routledge, 2001.

 ” Uniforming Sportswomen”, a photography essay in Major Problems in American Sport History: Documents and Essays, edited by Steven A. Riess. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

2. On the issue of gender in topic of sports uniforms, I turn to the databases GenderWatch%

Fashion and Costume

July 11th, 2011 by Chao Chen

For classic paintings such as David and Goliath by Caravaggio and David and Goliath by Carlo Dolci, what would be an interesting angle? 

David-and-Goliath-by-Dolci Carlo David-and-Goliath-by-Caravaggio  (Source:  Image Quest)


Here is one idea:

I have a research paper due this Wednesday on David and Goliath by Caravaggio and David and Goliath by Carlo Dolci. I want to discuss how the choice of costume contribute to the reading of this painting. I want to know if you have any recommendation on what Tisch books/ reference to look at. Would costume/ Fashion of 17th century be a good direction to go?

There have been research for Costume Design, The Evolution of Fashion, Medieval Dress Codes and, Tisch library has a collection to support them. Let’s pull out a couple for this particular topic in discussion:

Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 / edited by Catherine Richardson.

Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500 / Jacqueline Herald.

The Clothing of the Renaissance World: Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas: Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti Antichi et Moderni / [essay and translation by] Margaret F. Rosenthal and Ann Rosalind Jones.

A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500-1850 / edited by Elizabeth Rodini and Elissa B. Weaver ; with contributions by Kristen Ina Grimes … [et al.].

Merchants, Princes and Painters: Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300-1550 / Lisa Monnas.

After browsing through these general titles for contextual contents, we can focus on the paintings/painters next:

Benedict Nicolson. Caravaggio and the Caravaggesques: Some Recent Research The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 116, No. 859, Special Issue Devoted to Caravaggio and the Caravaggesques  (Oct., 1974), pp. 565+602-616+622.

 Janis C. Bell. Some Seventeenth-Century Appraisals of Caravaggio’s Coloring  Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 14, No. 27  (1993), pp. 103-129

Always check to see if these authors have published new scholarship on their topics.