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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Film History

For FILM 365 and FILM 366

Databases for Film Studies

Each database has its 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.


  • Full text articles from 42 performing arts journals, and most are ones that are in JSTOR, but more recent issues. Keyword search as if it were JSTOR. You can be very specific, since you are searching the entire text, not a summary.
  • We don't subscribe to everything in Project MUSE. If the article is not available full text, we may have it in a different database, or you can always interlibrary loan it.


  • Be general and just search by name of the film or the director. If the article is mainly about the film, there will be a record for the article.
  • Many times there is no abstract or summary of the article. In the full record, read over the Subjects to get a sense of what the article discusses.
  • Use the Check for Full Text button to see if we have it online, or if you have to interlibrary loan it.

Find Academic Books

Search Hints

Be general when looking for books. Try the name of the film first, but if you aren't finding anything, try the director or film genre.

How do you know if it is a scholarly book? 

  1. Note the publisher. If it is from a university press, such as University of Chicago Press or [insert name of university] press, it is highly likely to be scholarly. But there are lots of publishers that publish scholarly books, not just university presses.
  2. Note the author's credentials. Is the author a professor or a film critic? The former is more likely to be writing a scholarly book, but film critics do occasionally as well.
  3. Is there a bibliography? If there aren't references, it definitely isn't scholarly.

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