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Prof. Ostman - ENG 101 - Monsters Assignment, Fall 2018: Research Process / Searching Tips

Know Your Monsters

Sharla [Graphic Designer]. "Monsters of the USA: A Crptozoological Map," Daily InfoGraphic, 2016, Accessed on 4 Oct. 2018.

Topic Ideas

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 dealt with in the Twilight series?

How does vampire literature reflect changing societal attitudes about sexuality?

Sample Topics

Searching Tips & Tricks

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: Impact of Women's Rights Movement on Horror Films (This is a topic, not a search phrase!)

Better: Women and Horror; Feminism and Horror Films

  • 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 returnunexpected 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.