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GERM 450: Contemporary Voices in German Literature and Film: Exploring Topics

Why should I use subject encyclopedias?

You might be wondering why a German 450 student would consult subject encyclopedias.  The quick answer is that it can't hurt to make sure you have a good sense of how your research question fits in with other scholarly research that has been done--and the bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia articles are an efficient way to make sure you know who the scholars are who've been working on this topic.

Remember that tertiary sources are intended to fill in gaps in your knowledge or jumpstart your research; they should not be cited as scholarly secondary sources for your project.

Subject Encyclopedias for German History & Culture

Print reference books are located on the first floor of Collins Library.

Online Reference Collections

Not sure where to look?  Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Featured Resources

Cambridge Companions are a series of authoritative essay collections that synthesize the most important aspects of a topic. Each volume is edited by a leading scholar in the field and offers essays written by experts. Look for Companions on specific authors, genres, themes or movements, and time periods. 

Literary Theory & Criticism

Concept Map Overview

A concept map is:

  • a visual tool for generating and organizing ideas
  • a way to explore different aspects of a topic
  • a method for triggering word associations

Use a concept map to:

  • aid thinking at the beginning of the research process
  • create a visual overview of a topic
  • develop questions on a topic
  • reveal patterns, themes, and associations between ideas
  • generate search terms to conduct research

How to Create a Concept Map

Concept mapping is a great strategy to use as you develop your research question. Concept mapping emphasizes relational thinking and can help you see the connections (or lack thereof) between the various elements of your research. 

Ask yourself: what do I already know about my topic? what am I curious about? what kind of information do I need, and where am I likely to find it?

Think about what the various perspectives are on this topic, and what you do or don't know about them.  Who is studying this topic? What types of research have been done? What connections could be made between these sources?

The process is simple: start with the subject of your research question in the center, then:

  • In the space around the central concept, write words or phrases for any relevant subtopics.
  • For each of your focus subtopics, add related terms/concepts to your map.
  • Continue to fill out your branches with ideas or questions about types of resources you may wish to start with.