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ART H (ENGL/WMNST) 225 H: Sexuality and Modern Visual Culture

Welcome to the library guide for Dr. Kavky's ART H (ENGL/WMNST) 225 H: Sexuality and Modern Visual Culture at Penn State Berks.

Tips on the Research Project

 a person looking at paintings on the wall of a museumBasic Requirements for the Research Project:

"For your final project in this class you will each select a historical or contemporary artist whose work engages with issues of sexuality or gender. You will need to do some research in order to select your artist, searching in your text books or in other survey books of contemporary art, art magazines and internet sites. After you select your artist, you will research your artist, write a 4-5 page paper complete with images, citations and a work cited list (or endnotes and bibliography). Papers should be in New Times Roman 12pt. font and include a selection of images. You do not need a title page, but you do need a title.

Please do not write a biography of the artist. Artist biographies can be found easily on the internet. Your paper should be a critical analysis of the artist’s work in relation to issues of sexuality, gender and representation. You should use the readings and ideas discussed in class as a framework for your analysis."  --From Dr. Kavky's assignment



Acceptable Sources

        Sources by Art Historians and Art Critics

  • Scholarly journal articles (required to have some)--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 (required to have some)--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 newspaper like the New York Times.  Please be aware that the reviews are opinions.

        Sources by the Artist  

  • The author's web site or blog (if the artist has written the site)
  • The artist's memoirs or autobiographies
  • Interviews with the artists that appeared in newspapers, magazines, TV news shows


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).


Which of these sources are acceptable, and which are not acceptable?

How To Find Scholarly, Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Search for the name of the artist along with a relevant contemporary issue:

Cindy Sherman and feminism

Power Tip: You can enclose the author's name in quotation marks to perform an exact phrase search.


What if this search strategy doesn't find enough good sources? 

1. Try typing in related words:. You many find different articles each time you change your keywords, even though those keywords might relate to the same topic.

Cindy Sherman and women's issues

Cindy Sherman and gender  

2. Switch to another database.  If JSTOR does not find enough, try Art Full Text instead.

3. Ask a Librarian.  Brett's office is located behind the front desk in Thun Library.  He has a mosaic of R2-D2 on his office door.  You can also get "virtual help" by emailing him at


How To Find Scholarly Art Books

The CAT is the main search tool for finding books at all Penn State Libraries.  Here are some strategies for searching in it:

Strategy 1: Look over the lists of Dr. Kavky's recommended books in Canvas and in the bibliographies ofyour textbook.  Search for the books by title in the CAT by changing the drop-down box to Title.

screenshot of the Quick Search in the Cat.  Yellow arrow points at the drop-down box with title search



Strategy 2: Search for the name of the artist in quotation marks in the CAT (after you search, you can also use the filters on the right sidebar to select "Visual Arts").

"Judy Chicago"


Strategy 3: Look for books on movements or trends in contemporary art that may include a discussion of your artist.  For example, if I can't find books solely on Judy Chicago, I could type in feminist art  and flip through the general books on feminist art that I find to see if they discuss Judy Chicago.


a blue button from the Cat that says "I want It"

Bonus: How To Find Critical Exhibition Reviews

Citations for Presentation