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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Film 214: Film & the Humanities

For Professors Ayers and Pelles

Thought Process

For Older, Classic Films

If you have chosen an older classic film, there will be many scholarly journal articles to choose from.

  • Type in the name of the film, and use the limiters on the left side to narrow.
  • Skim the results and choose articles on aspects you care most about. Remember, all of the sources do not need to discuss the same aspects of the film. One article could be about the depiction of women, and another could be about the musical score.

For More Recent Films

There won’t be as many scholarly articles on the film itself. So broaden your search.

Search for articles about the director or production company. This works best for directors or production companies who have done several films


  • For Once Upon a Hollywood, search for articles about Quentin Tarantino
  • For Onward, search for articles about Pixar

Search for articles on themes raised by the film. Again, all the articles don’t have to be about the same theme! Searching by theme can sometimes be very easy, such as searching for articles on particular genres of film (horror, comedy, animated/animation). But other times it can be frustrating to determine the best keywords for a particular theme, such as class issues. (Try "social classes.")


  • For Parasite, search for articles about Korean films, social classes, poverty, etc.
  • For Jojo Rabbit, search for articles about farce, coming-of-age, historical films, etc.

Databases for Film Studies

Try these databases in this order, narrowing to scholarly/peer-reviewed. Each database has it's strengths and weaknesses.


  • Since we lost access to Performing Arts Periodicals Database, the EWU Libraries Catalog is your best bet. It gives you records for articles from virtually all of our databases.
  • Type in the name of the film and the director.
  • The default is to show only articles that (in theory) we have full text access to. If you have time (a few days) to interlibrary loan articles, you can see records for articles we don't have full text by clicking on "Include results with no full text" under the heading Refine My Results on the left.
  • Use the limiters on the left.
    • Peer Reviewed Journals (under Availability) -- this will eliminate most of the magazine and newspaper articles, and any books we might have. (I have not found this limiter to be 100% accurate -- double check by evaluating each article.)
    • Articles (under Format) -- this should eliminate the film reviews. Again, double check.
    • Subject Terms -- If you have thousands of results, then definitely use this limiter by clicking on the down arrow to view the subjects. (If you have a few hundred or less, then the relevance ranking built in should work fine to bring the film criticism articles to the top, vs articles that just mention your film in passing.) Click on the boxes for any that sound relevant, and it will narrow to all of those you choose.
  • See a title you like? Click on the title of the article to bring up the full record, and links to the full text. (If it isn't available full text, then click on the link "Request this article via Interlibrary Loan.")
  • You will encounter a number of freely available e-journals. It will say Open Access or DOAJ or Free Resource where the links to the full text are in the full record. Quality varies, so I would scrutinize the length, the level of the analysis, who wrote it, etc.


  • Includes 19 Film Studies journals, plus another 26 Performing Arts journals and over 400 Language/Literature journals.
  • You are keyword searching the entire article in JSTOR, so you can be quite specific with your keywords. Put phrases "in quotes."
  • Under Narrow By and Item Type, click Articles. This will eliminate book reviews.
  • If you have to many results, narrow by Subject: and choose relevant disciplines, such as Film Studies.
  • You can also try out the hyperlinked Topic tags, though you'll probably get more results since it doesn't narrow your results. You're doing a new search. They are useful for determining the issues discussed in the particular article.


  • Keyword search as if it were JSTOR. You can be very specific, since you are searching the entire text, not a summary.
  • If the article is not available full text, there's a reasonable chance we have it in a different database. Use the link Check for Full Text to see if it's in a different database, or you can request it via Interlibrary Loan.


  • Large, all-subjects database that includes around 60 film studies journals and magazines.
  • I'd suggest using this one if you have a fairly broad theme you are researching, because it's the easiest one to narrow the results by subject tag.

Is the article scholarly?

Refresher if you aren't sure if the articles you find are scholarly...

Who wrote it? Authority? Credentials?

Most of the scholarly articles are written by professors, people with PhDs, or working on their PhD.  Occasionally you will find an article written by a film critic. Note who employs the critic (major newspaper or magazine?) and if the critic has written any books.

Is it lengthy?

If the article is only a few pages long, it's unlikely to be a scholarly article. You'll run into news articles or book/film reviews in the scholarly journals, and they tend to be short with no, or just a few, references. Those sources are not what you want to use for the Annotated Bibliography.

Are there references? Bibliography at the end of the article?

The vast majority of scholarly articles have references, but you will run into rare exceptions where it is an in-depth analysis (5+ pages), but there aren't any references. In those cases, double-check it is from a scholarly journal, and the authority of the author.

If you are still in doubt, contact me.

Find the Full Text When Searching a Database

When you are searching in one of the library databases and the article in question isn't available full text right there, look for the button or hyperlink that says Check for Full Text.

Step 1: If the article is available online, it will say Fulltext available at the top. (It looks like a hyperlink, but it is a link to take you to the page you're already on.) Under View It, you will see links to the databases that have the article. In the example above the article is available in JSTOR and ProQuest databases.

Step 2: If the article is not available full text, it will say Check availability. To see if we have it in print or microfilm, scroll down to Find in a Library. If we do have at least one issue of the source, the page will look like the image above.


  • the years we have -- for the example below we have 1962-1964, 1965-1982, and 1997-2005
  • the location -- EWU-Cheney Main Level Periodical
  • the call number of the source -- PN1993 .F438

You can request that the library scan you a copy of the article! Just click on the link Request a scan of a chapter or excerpt, and it's the same as requesting it via Interlibrary Loan (Step 3.)

Step 3: If the article is not available full text, and we do not have it in print/microfilm, go back up to View It and click the link Request this article using Interlibrary Loan (in the middle under Can't find it? -- see image below). You will need to log in using your NetID/SSO. Verify that the fields were filled out correctly and click the red Submit Request button. Articles usually a few days. You will be notified via your EWU email that the article is available for you to download. (Directions are in the email.) 

Visual example...

screen shot of finding the full-text of an article

Background Information

You might want to use some non-scholarly sources as background information, to help you understand the scholarly articles. 

Step 1 - Check to see if your film is one of the 200 in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Films below. The entries are of high quality, and make for a great starting point. 

Find Books and eBooks

You can find books and ebooks on major directors, genres of films (horror, science fiction, animation, etc.), films from X country, films from a particular decade, or analysis of major themes (racism, feminism, war, adaptations, etc.). Some really major, classic films (especially ones that are revolutionary) may have books just on the one film. Do remember that it takes years to get a book published.

Books or individual book chapters may count towards the scholarly sources if the book is published by a university press, and/or the author(s) has scholarly credentials. And there has to be a bibliography or list of references.

Because the library is closed this quarter, and the Summit borrowing system is shut down, the library can scan a chapter of a book you find in the catalog. Just click on the link Request a scan of a chapter or excerpt, and it's the same as requesting it via Interlibrary Loan. Give us a day or two, except requests on Friday won't be handled until Monday.

The film studies books come in two forms.

  1. Books written by one person, or a few people collaboratively. Note the credentials of the author(s). 
  2. Books where each chapter is written by a different person, and all the chapters are related to each other. Each relevant chapter could count as one of your ten sources.


Need a refresher on searching the EWU Library Catalog? See Help with Searching the EWU Library Catalog.