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ART H 307: History of American Art

Welcome to the library guide for Dr Kavky's ART H 307: History of American Art at Penn State Berks!

Reference Librarian

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Brett Spencer
Office 108, Thun Library, Penn State Berks
(610) 396-6261
Subjects: Campus: Berks

Starting Our Research

paint brush iconIntroduction

Research Project: Exhibition Catalogue Essay

"You have each selected a work from the text that you found interesting, and you have presented, or will present, that work to the class. For your presentation you used internet sites as well as reference materials (textbook). Now I would like you to go a step further in terms of research and use the library and scholarly databases to find art historical studies that either address your particular work, the artist of your work, or similar types of works. You will each write a short paper, 3-4 pages, summarizing the sources that you have found in the context of an exhibition catalogue essay. Pretend that we are organizing an exhibition of American Art. Each of you will act as a curator for your work, since museum curators select, research and display works of art. You can think of your paper as an entry in a museum exhibition catalogue, which offers the public some interesting information and updated scholarship on that work.

You will need to clearly document all your sources. The reader/viewer who reads your catalogue entry should know clearly who said what, where and when. Your goal as a researcher is to find scholarly interpretations of your selected work in academic books and peer reviewed articles. You will need to reference your sources within your text and provide a bibliography. If your bibliography consists of only internet sources you will not receive anything above a C on your entry, no matter how well written.

For a B you will need to find at least one book and one scholarly journal article in which an art historian offers an interpretation of your image (or at least some ideas that are relevant to it)."

--From The Assignment

book with blue arrow overlaidSources

Acceptable Sources

  • Scholarly journal articles--these are a special type of article that are written by scholars (professors), published in journals, often have long lists of citations.  Check out this example--you might recognize the author!
  • Book--you can find books at Thun Library or order books from other campuses if Thun does not have what you need.
  • Critical reviews of exhibitions--these are well-thought-out, substantial reviews of exhibitions by your artists.  They are often found in art journals or credible newspapers like the New York Times.  Please be aware that the reviews are opinions.

Unacceptable Sources

  • Wikipedia
  • Web Sites that lack credibility
  • Exhibition reviews that are not scholarly (some exhibition reviews only offer dates and times of the exhibit and very short summaries of the artwork--avoid these).


class settingClass Activity: Acceptable or Unacceptable Sources?

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

Finding Scholarly Books

For Print Books: 

1.  Type in your topic and hit search.

2. Click on the title of the book you would like.

3.  If the book is located at Penn State Berks, please write down the call number and go to Thun Library to retrieve the book.  Please ask for help at the front desk.

If the book is located at another Penn State library, please click the blue "I Want It" button in the CAT to order the book.  The book will usually arrive at Thun Library's front desk in 2-3 business days (you'll receive an email when it arrives).

blue button that says "I Want It"

For Ebooks: 

1. Type in your topic and hit search

2.  Select "Access" on the left sidebar.

3.  Click "Online"

4.  Click the small blue "" under the books' titles to view the books.


Sample screen showing location of the "online" limit option on the left side.