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Film Studies: Reference Works

This guide has been developed to provide an overview of library and internet sources for courses in film studies.

Reference Works

There are several works in the reference section of the CSS Library which you might consider for background information as you research your paper.

Abel, Richard, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2005. Call number: PN1993.45 .E53 2005
This work focuses on cinema from the late nineteenth century up to the mid 1910s. There are articles on all major figures from the period. There are also a number of pieces on developments in films style such as acting style, camera movement, intertitles and titles, and set design. This is an excellent work for its information on the various types of projectors that were used during the period: among the 17 entries are articles on the Biograph 77, Gaumont projectors, Nuremberg toy projectors and Warwick Bioscope projectors.

Aitken, Ian. ed. The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Documentary Film.   London: Routledge, 2013.
This is an e-reference update to Aitken's print Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film noted below.

Aitken, Ian, ed. Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film. 3 vols. New York: Rougledge, 2006. Call number: PN1995.9 .D6 E53 2006
This 3-volume encyclopedia is a good place to look for essays on individual documentary films and directors.  Many of the entries include bibliographies.

Gale Virtual Reference Library.  This resource searches against a collection of over 2,500 reference sources. It can be an excellent source for finding biographical information on directors, actors, and other individuals involved in film.

Grant, Barry Keith. Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film. 4 vols. Detroit: Thompson Gale, 2007. Call number: PN1993.45 .G67 2007
According to its preface, this work "features entries on all important genres, studios, and national cinemas, as well as entries on relevant technological and industrial topics, cultural issues, and critical approaches to film." Be sure to check the work's index, searching on your film's title and director as well as under specific genres or stylistic devices which might be associated with the work.

Harpole, Charles, ed. History of the American Cinema. 10 vols. New York: Scribner, 1990-1997. Call number: Ref. PN 1993.5 U6 H577
This 10 vol. work is worth a look if you happen to be collecting background information about an American film. The volumes are arranged by decade. I would go right to the index for the volume covering the time period for your film, then search on your director and film title for any discussion(s) which might be included.

Hischak, Thomas S. The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Ref. ML 102.M68 H57 1999.
This unique work catalogs over 1700 song from 500 film musicals. "In addition to identifying the song's sources, authors, and original performers, the Encyclopedia tries to explain the songs heard in the movie musicals: what kind of song it is, what it is about and what purpose it had in the film, what aspects of it musically or lyrically are memorable, what is the song's history, and what may be unique about this particular number. One could say this book is about songs as little moments of screenwriting."

Hischak, Thomas S. Film it with Music: An Encyclopedic Guide to the American Movie Musical.  Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001. Ref. PN 1995.9 M86 H57 2001
This work includes entries on 383 select movie musicals from 1927 to 2000. There are additional entries on individual actors, directors and producers.

Hischak, Thomas S. Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2017.

International Film Guide: The Definitive Annual Review of World Cinema, 1966- Ref. PN 1993.3 .I545 
This annual guide provides a country by country review of the year's major films. Each issue also contains essays on five directors of the year.

King, Lynnea. The Coen Brothers Encyclopedia. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. Ref. PN 1998.3 .C6635 K57 2014 (Note: this title is both in our reference and ebook collections. The license for the ebook--linked in this citation--is for a single user.)

Leitch, Thomas. The Encyclopedia of Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Facts on File, 2002. Call number: Ref. PN1998.3 .H58 L45 2002
This work includes plot analyses and critical assessments of all of the director's films. There are also entries on various techniques, motifs, and themes used by Hitchcock.

Lyon, Christopher, ed. The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers.  Chicago: St. James Press, 2001.
This is an excellent source of information on individual films and directors. It includes entries on individual films, which are arranged alphabetically. Each entry on individual films includes a short critical essay on the film as well as credit information.There is also a listing of publications (articles and books) about the film. Entries on directors include a critical biographical essay along with a bibliography.

Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. PN1993.5.U6 M685 2011
This 3-volume work has articles on major directors, films, topics and genres within American cinema.

Thomson, David. The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. New York: Knopf, 2014.
This work by the British critic, David Thomson, is a classic in film studies. It has a reputation for being eccentric, opinionated and highly entertaining. (Note: we have a 1-user license for this title. If you are unable to get in the first time, please try again later.)

Whitty, Stephen. The Alfred Hitchcock Encyclopedia. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. This is a good companion work to the volume above by Leitch. It includes articles on all of Hitchcock's films and tv episodes. There are also entries on actors and topical themes. The work is well-referenced.


Reference Universe

Search the CSS Library's Reference collection for your topic by using Reference Universe. This database will direct you to articles within the encyclopedias and other reference sources in the print collection at CSS, as well as reference works within our electronic reference collections.

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