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Prof. Ostman - ENG 101 - Monsters Assignment: Research Process / Search Tips

"Cabin in the Woods (still)." Lifestyle Chatter, The Most Paused Moments In Movie History | Lifestyle Chatter - Part 3

Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven., 6 Nov. 2017, Accessed 22 Sept. 2020.

Sample Topics

  • How are the pre-teen characters in Stranger Things monstrous in their subversion of authority?
  • Why did the Duffer brothers choose the Demogorgon as its frightening creature?
  • Is “Eleven” a monster?
  • What connection does Stephen King make between human adults and Pennywise the monster in IT?
  • What cultural, social, religious or political events have influenced the popularity of monster culture?
  • How do zombie films reflect social or religious views?
  • What can superheroes teach us about humanity? About society?
  • What is the relationship between vampires and mortal destiny? Fear of dying?
  • Who is the monster in Frankenstein?
  • How does the novel Dracula respond to changing gender roles?
  • How are race and ethnicity portrayed in the Twilight series?
  • How does vampire literature reflect changing societal attitudes about sexuality?

Searching Tips

Consider using the tools within the library databases to help with your search. Is there a Terminology Glossary or search tool?

Look at the search terms associated with results you find useful. What other sources are associated with those search words/ideas?

The Basics

  • Exact phrasing/spelling counts! (Databases do not include a "Did you mean?" function). 
  • Use limited, hard terms, leave out vague phrases like "impact on"

Eg: Stephen King's exploration of child abuse and trauma in IT.  (This is a topic, not a search phrase!)

Search: coming of age and Stephen King; Stephen King and adolescence, Horror and adolescence; King's IT and trauma

  • No need to use punctuation 

Keyword Searching

Try different forms of your words: 

  • monster, beast, creature, etc.
  • gryffin, gryphon, griffen, etc. 
  • vampire, vampyre
  • werewolf, shapeshifter, lycanthrope

Try more specific/advanced terms or concepts that you have learned

  • “re-animation” (an ancient theme of “bringing up the dead”)
  • “The sublime” (aesthetic theory)
  • “The uncanny” (Freud)

You may return unexpected results, but keep trying revising the words and/or reducing the number of words.

You can Broaden: Instead of “soucouyant or soucriant” try “Caribbean mythology

Or Narrow: Instead of Vampires try “Dracula” or other character

Power Searching

Boolean operators: AND narrows your search results

  • mermaids AND sirens
  • mermaids AND medieval AND female sexuality

Boolean operators: OR expands your search using variations of terms

  • vampires OR Dracula
  • werewolf OR wolfmen OR wolfman

Boolean operators: NOT removes terms you’re not interested in

  • shapeshifter NOT werewolf
  • graphic novels NOT childrens
  • aliens NOT immigrants

Truncation – another way to search variations of terms at once by using the asterisk as a wildcard symbol

Instead of: apocalyptic OR apocalypse

Try: apocalyp*

Try: 1960*

Try: *ploitation films

Try: were()wolves

Phrases – look for a particular set of words in a specific order by enclosing them in quotation marks

“Walking Dead”

"Night of the Living Dead"

Limits – narrow down that huge set of results you have

Range of years: 2008-2018

Subject terms: terms used by the database to organize the resources

Type of material: books, scholarly, etc.


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