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CA 821 (Laura Marks) literature review guide

Contact info

If you need help, please contact Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Communication & Contemporary Arts at SFU Vancouver: 778.782.5043 (main) SFU Burnaby: 778.782.3681 or or Ask a librarian.

This guide is intended to assist you with research for your final paper in FPA 821 and beyond.  The focus is on conducting a  literature review for your annotated bibliography assignment, in order to find historical and contemporary contexts for the object(s) of study, as well as theoretical and methodological frameworks for your discussion.

If you do not find the information that you need to write your paper, please Ask a Librarian for assistance or contact Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Contemporary Arts (contact details in the box on the right). I am pleased to meet (or phone or Skype) for one-on-one consultations about your specific research project.

When you email or phone, please give me some details about your research and times when you're at the Vancouver campus so we can find a mutually convenient meeting time. 


What is a literature review?

A literature review is a text written by someone to consider the critical points of current academic knowledge, substantial and influential discussions, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches to a particular topic. 

For your annotated bibliography assignment, you are asked to select 8-10 texts that relate to your object(s) of study (see the assignment outline in the FPA 821 syllabus for specifics).

Also see links to online guide to literature reviews and annotated bibliographies:

Theory backgrounders


Use the following subject heading links to find books that discuss approaches to media arts research:

A selection of titles (linked titles are available as e-books; linked call numbers are for books available in print):

Mapping intermediality in performance [print and online]

Media borders, multimodality and intermediality  [print and online]

The move beyond form : creative undoing in literature and the arts since 1960

The metareferential turn in contemporary arts and media : forms, functions, attempts at explanation [print or online]

Visuality/materiality  : images, objects and practices [print and online]

Art history and visual studies in Europe : transnational discourses and national frameworks [print]

Mapping landscapes for performance as research : scholarly acts and creative cartographies [print and online]

Screen/space : the projected image in contemporary art [print]

Finding books

The SFU Library catalogue includes records which describe books and other materials in our collection, both print and electronic.

If you find a book which is not in the SFU collection, use an interlibrary loan form to request it and we'll try to borrow it for you from another library.

WorldCat database lists books and other materials held by many libraries around the world.  You can search it like a Library catalogue and request books not held by SFU using the Where can I get this? link.
Consider also searching for dissertations and theses, as these represent the work of emerging scholars.  Full text for many dissertations and theses can be found by searching Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index. If not online, you can request a thesis through interlibrary loan.

Finding articles

The wide range of disciplines that touch on the nature of comparative media research requires that you take a broad view of relevant research and use a variety of indexes to find it.  Each index contains records describing articles in a set of journals, chapters in books, book reviews, exhibition reviews, practitioner publications and other information sources.

If the full text of the article is not included in the index, follow the Where can I get this? link to find the full text, if available. If not available online, you can also request reprints or scans of articles using the Request item from another library function.

The following are some key indexes for literature relating to the study of media:

Art Full Text (indexing 1984 to current; full text 1997 to current)
Indexing & full text for journal articles on all aspects and periods of art.

Bibliography of the History of Art / International Bibliography of Art 
Art bibliography covering European and American visual arts from late antiquity to the present.

Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text
Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text is the definitive online tool for film and television research.
Multidisciplinary index to journals for the performing arts (drama, theater, dance, film, television).
Index to articles on literature and related subjects, including film studies.

Multi-disciplinary indexes

If you're not sure where to start, a search in one of these indexes will show you which disciplines have approached related questions.  The first 3 listed index the full text of articles, enabling you to find references buried within the text.

Google Scholar
Indexes journal articles and books.

Project MUSE Search
Full text articles in scholarly humanities and social sciences journals.

Searchable, archival collection of core scholarly arts, humanities and social sciences journals

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
A multidisciplinary index to the journal literature of the arts and humanities. Some of the disciplines covered include Architecture, Art,  Dance, Folklore,  Language, Linguistics,  Literature, Music, Philosophy,  Radio, Television, & Film,Theatre.

Citing it right

SFU Library provides Citation & style guides for your use. If you can't figure out how to cite a specific source, please Ask a Librarian.

The Johns Hopkins guide to digital media