Writing for the Wild and the Tame

Wtr 2012


Anna Fishaut

Katie Keller

Getting Started

  1. Use Reference Sources to jumpstart your research, to get ideas, search terms, context, and more.
  2. Find Books, Journal Titles and Media in Stanford's Online Catalog, SearchWorks.
  3. Find Articles in Selected Databases.
    Note: Stanford subscribes to over 1000 Databases that index articles and books on various topics. Since there are so many databases we recommend a select subset of databases which will give you access to articles in a wide variety of subject areas.

  4. Find Resources on your Course Theme. Click the link(s) below.

Reference Sources

Reference sources can be a good source of preliminary information on a topic and a means to collect useful keywords. They also often contain bibliographies that cite key texts and thinkers associated with a specific topic. The online resources listed here are a small sample of the reference materials Stanford has to offer; many are in print form and can be found by searching SearchWorks or by physically browsing the libraries' reference areas.

Tips for using reference sources:

1. Look at the cross-references that many entries provide. These can be helpful in pointing you toward a related or more accurate idea/term.

2. One of the most important elements of any good reference source entry is its bibliography. Take note of the books or articles that the entry's author deems elementary to understanding the individual or idea.

Suggested online reference sources:

Blackwell Reference Online

Oxford Art Online

Oxford Reference Online

Reference Universe

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


SearchWorks is Stanford’s online catalog/database for on-campus library resources: books, magazine and journal titles (but not the individual articles within them; for a discussion of these see the "Finding Articles" section), e-books, DVDs, etc. SearchWorks allows for two main methods of searching: the Basic Search, which is the default mode, and the Advanced Search, which can be accessed by clicking on "Advanced" underneath the search box.

The Basic Search performs a lot like a typical Web search engine, bringing back hits from a keyword search, sorted by relevance. You can try simply entering the name of an artist in the search box and then hitting the "Search" button--or you might try entering the artist's name and then switching the button to "Subject terms."

The Advanced Search allows for more specificity and flexibility, as you can limit a keyword search to specific fields (e.g., title, subject terms) and/or restrict results to a certain library, language, etc. In either mode you can elect to sort results by a method other than relevance: by year (old to new or new to old), title, or author.


In the academic world the term "database" usually refers to specific resources that retrieve items--usually from the periodical literature--not typically listed in a library's online catalog. Databases are normally oriented toward specific subjects, and therefore they can go into far more specificity than Stanford's own online catalog, SearchWorks, can. While journal articles are the most common items to be included in databases, many also include citations (i.e., listings for and descriptions of) for book and exhibition reviews and for chapters or essays within anthologies.

Tips for using databases

1. Start in the databases section of SearchWorks. The list of subjects is a useful place for beginning research.

2. After selecting a relevant database, treat your search similarly to how you would search in SearchWorks. Most databases are structured in essentially the same way, though often with their own proprietary sets of keywords and subject headings.

Suggested databases

Visual Arts:

ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM)

Art Full Text


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)

International Bibliography of Art (IBA)

General Academic and News:

Academic Search Premier

America, History and Life


LexisNexis: Academic

MLA International Bibliography

Sociological Abstracts