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What is a background source?
Background sources are written for a general audience and are intended to give an overview of a topic, fill gaps in the reader’s knowledge, and provide context for deeper understanding. Examples include Wikipedia, introductory textbooks, and reference works such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. They can be a useful place to start your research and can assist in selecting a topic for a research project, locating basic information and key facts, defining important words and concepts, and getting suggestions for additional sources to consult.
Typical characteristics of background sources:
- intended to be informative
- provide context, background, or summary information
- present shared information and established facts; information is uncontested
- offer suggestions for additional sources of information on the topic
Dictionaries & Thesauri
Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory by
Call Number: PN1993.45 .C75 2001
Publication Date: 2000-12-19
The Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory explains the major theoretical approaches now deployed in the study of the moving image, as well as defining key theoretical terms.
Historical Dictionary of American Cinema by
Publication Date: 2011-04-01
Provides broad coverage of the people, films, companies, techniques, themes, and genres that have made American cinema such a vital part of world cinema. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and over 500 cross-referenced dictionary entries.
International Directory of Films and Filmmakers by
Publication Date: 2004-02-01
Provides thorough coverage of films and filmmakers, including legendary films, actors and actresses, directors, writers and other production artists. Entries include a detailed essay written by an expert; biographies; filmographies; comprehensive credits; major awards; and updated bibliographies, as well as photographs.
Academy Awards Database
Searchable database contains the official record of past Academy Award winners and nominees, including Scientific and Technical Award winners.
The AllMovie database is comprehensive, including basic product information, cast and production credits, plot synopsis, professional reviews, biographies, relational links, and more. Allows searching by genre (e.g. Comedy or Musical) and by mood (e.g. Thought Provoking or Futuristic).
Filmfestivals.com’s mission is to be the premiere online entertainment destination dedicated to showcasing film festivals around the world and fostering new film and filmmaking talent.
Filmsite.org is an award-winning website for classic film buffs, students, moviegoers and anyone else interested in the great movies of the last century. Detailed plot synopses, review commentary and film reference material are just some of the features available on the site. The site also contains film analysis, original content, information on the top films and most memorable movie scenes, "best of…" articles, and the most popular film quotes in all genres of film. Its many resources include a comprehensive overview of film history, a complete survey of the Academy Awards (Oscars), milestones and turning points in the industry, and background and descriptions for hundreds of classic Hollywood/American and other English-language movies from the last one hundred years.
IMDB (Internet Movie Database)
An online database of information related to movies, television shows, actors, production crew personnel, video games and fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media.
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism by
Publication Date: 2004-11-03
Includes more than 240 alphabetically arranged entries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.
The Film Encyclopedia by
Call Number: PN1993.45 .K34 2001
Publication Date: 2001-04-01
Contains nearly 8,000 entries on the artistic, technical, and commercial aspects of moviemaking.
Handbooks & Guides
America's Film Legacy by
Publication Date: 2009-11-18
An authoritative and extraordinary guide To The 500 most significant films ever made in the United States, from big-budget blockbusters to experimental shorts.
Film and Television by
Call Number: Z5784.M9 E47 2006
Publication Date: 2006-03-30
International in scope, its focus is movies and television shows: how they are produced; the people who make and appear in them; their content, their distribution and exhibition; and their reception by audiences, reviewers, critics, and scholars.
The International Film Guide 2012 by
Call Number: PN1993.3.I545
Publication Date: 2012-04-10
Offers an overview of trends and changes in global cinema across the last twelve months. The guide provides summaries of all the major festivals and film markets around the world.
The Oxford Guide to Film Studies by
Call Number: PN1995 .O93 1998
Publication Date: 1998-03-19
The up-to-date critical volume on the theories, debates, and approaches to the study of film. Provides an overview of the main disciplinary approaches to film studies, an explanation of the main concepts and methods involved in film analysis, a survey of the main issues and debates in the study of film, and critical discussion of key areas.
American Film Institute Desk Reference by
Call Number: PN1994 .A599 2002
Publication Date: 2002-11-15
Highlighting filmmakers and costume designers, financiers and actors, this complete guide includes more than 500 photographs and illustrations, a year by year chronology of film, and many special annotated lists, including the AFI's celebrated list of the 100 Best Films of the Past 100 Years.
The Oxford History of World Cinema by
Publication Date: 1996-11-06
Tells the story of the major inventions and developments in the cinema business, its institutions, genres, and personnel; other chapters outline the evolution of national cinemas around the world - the varied and distinctive filmic traditions that have developed alongside Hollywood.