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I-Search Paper for Intro to Visual Culture: RESEARCH GUIDE

Steps to Help with Your I-Search Paper

An I-Search Paper helps you learn the nature of searching and discovery on a chosen topic. Your goal is to pay attention, track this exploration, and LEARN HOW YOU LEARN so that you can repeat the process in other courses. The I-Search Paper should be the story of your search process, including chronological reflections on the phases of research in a narrative form. The I is for YOU. It's the story of YOUR search and what you learned.

Start with Wikipedia. What you want to learn is the facts about the object--context, movement, date, etc. To find more about how to appropriately use Wikipedia for college-level research, consult the Research Guide for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which is excellent for background information. Pay special attention to the footnotes and references at the bottom of the page. they may guide you to excellent academic sources.

Next check to Otis Library's Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) for books. Many of the objects you are searching have entire books written about them. If not, find a book about the artist.

that are provided for you through the Library website are often an excellent source especially for academic papers.  Art Source is arguably the best for art courses. Try it! However, many articles in the database are in academic journals that are aimed at other scholars. They often discuss subjects in much more depth than you may need for this assignment. If you can find an article in a more general magazine such as the Smithsonian, it will serve you better. But you will be required to use these sources in other advanced courses. So, please take this opportunity to try them now.

Keep track of the actual search terms and specific databases you used and how you modified your strategy as you went along. You will include those details in your paper. Analyze the results. How many hits did you get? Say how and why you modified your search strategy to get more or less. What did you learn about each database that you tried? What kind of information did you find. Why were the names of the journals or magazines articles were in.

In all your research, include actual facts and theories that you discover about your topic as well as idiosyncratic information such as what surprised you. You could say what you already knew about the topic before beginning the research and how what you knew about that topic may have changed during the research process.

If you have trouble finding relevant materials in the Library, ask a librarian. They have Master's Degrees in research, are more discerning than search engines. Plus, they are happy to assist!

You will then create a bibliography of at least 2 sources--books, museum websites, or journal articles. Wikipedia won't really count as one of your sources since it's really just about finding background information or referrals to other sources.

If you include websites in your bibliography, make sure they are educationally oriented. Find out who wrote them and what their credentials are. For instance, museum websites are often written by curators/art historians whose purpose is the educate. Additionally, Smarthistory, now part of Khan Academy discusses many iconic works and these are written by PhD. art historians. If you find something on this site, it would be a very good source. Make sure your web sources are Quality Web Sources.

You must annotate and evaluate the sources in the bibliography or works cited list. Remember, the annotations must include the credentials of the author and the type of information (scholarly, popular, etc.), and the intended audience of the publication. See:

"Believing Is Seeing" Reading Guide

Search the Library Catalog and Databases


EBSCO ArtSource and OmniFile

Check Your Writing for Accuracy!

Need help signing up or using it? Visit the Grammarly@EDU Guide.

Suggested Pairs

I-Search: Suggested List of Pairs (2018)

1. Cave Painting at Chauvet vs. Spiral Jetty (Smithson)

2. Venus of Urbino (Titian) vs. I Am Its Secret (Neshat)

3. Olympia (Manet) vs. Daughter of Art History (Morimura)

4. Peplos Kore vs. Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (Degas)

5. Athenian Parthenon vs. Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Lin)

6. Discobobolus (Myron) vs. 25 Colored Marilyns (Warhol)

7. David (Michelangelo) vs. Wonder Woman (Birnbaum)

8. Lindisfarne Gospel vs. iPhone

9. Job Cigarette Advertsising Poster (Mucha) vs. Louis Vuitton Bag (Murakami)

10. Chartres Cathedral vs. Disney Concert Hall (Gehry)

11. The Last Supper (Leonardo) vs. Dinner Party (Chicago)

12. Oath of the Horatii (David) vs. Terracotta Army

13. Hagia Sophia vs. Constitutional Court

14. Palette of Narmer vs. Installation (Walker)

15.  Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (Gentileschi) vs. Self-Portrait with a Snake (Gauguin)

16. Melancholia I (Durer) vs. The Nightmare (Fuseli)

17. Las Meninas (Velasquez) vs. White Guise (Saar)

18. Anavysos Kouros vs. Astro Boy (Tezuka)

19. The Treachery of Images (Magritte) vs. Protect Me From What I Want (Holzer)

20. The Stonebreakers (Courbet) vs. Study of Perspective, Tiananmen Square (Ai Weiwei)

21. Self-Portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States 
(Kahlo) vs. I Love America and America Loves Me (Beuys)

22. Still life in Studio (Daguerre) vs. Untitled no.92 (Sherman)

23. The Swing (Fragonard) vs. White Iris (Georgia O'Keeffe)

24. Woman of Willendorf (formerly Venus of Willendorf) vs. Fountain (Duchamp)

View list of all objects (OtisDID)

Art History Survey Textbooks

You may also consult general Art History survey textbooks. These are located in the reference section or the Library (or the stacks) in the N5300 section. They include titles such as:

Or you may search for specific surveys of art history for a particular period or type of art. In these books you will find the context for your work.

Just a Few of the Books in the Library

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