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HON250 - Animated Character Research: Animal Background Research

Animals in literature, folklore, religion, and more

This guide provides strategies and resources for locating scholarly sources discussing the representation of animals in various forms of cultural expression, such as movies, literature, religious texts, and folklore.

The primary types of sources you should consult for this portion of your paper are scholarly e-books and journal articles. Similar to how we evaluated online sources for your character studies, evaluate these sources with particular focus on author's expertise and the publication(e.g., the journal in which the article is published, the publisher of the book).

Though we are not on campus to meet in person, I am available to for research appointments via Zoom or phone (click Schedule Me for Research Help to set up an appointment with me) and email (meloy@calu.edu). I would love to help you out. Just ask. 

Good luck and stay safe!

Mr. Meloy

Step 1: Helpful Search Terms

Before going into the database (to the right) to enter your searches, you should come up with a variety of search terms. If you have ideas about how and where your animal appears in cultural contexts, use that knowledge to determine search terms. For example, if your animal is a cow, you may know that cows hold a sacred place in India. So, in this case, your search terms could include Hindu, Hinduism, India. You should also cast wider searches using ideas under "Cultural Contexts" below. The method is to do a search a combination search of your animal AND various cultural contexts.

The animal

This part is pretty simple. If your animal is a mouse, you want to search mouse, but also variations of the word, such as mice. 

Using the Boolean operator ORmice OR mouse

*the OR directs the search to retrieve results with either word.

Cultural Contexts

Now you need come up with search terms that will tag results that discuss and analyze the representation of your animal in culture. This aspect of the search will take more creativity and experimentation. Below are some cultural context search terms to get you started, but there are many more. You can start with some of these, but as you look through search results, look out for other terms that might not have come to mind. Also, look for specific books, religious texts, legends, geographic areas, cultural groups, etc that you can also add to your search.

Popular culture: movies, film, comics, comic books

Literary devices: allegory, metaphor, zoomporphism, symbolism

Genres: folklore, legends, mythology, folk tales, poetry, fiction

Religion: biblical, christian, hindu

Geographic/cultural: native american, inuit, asian 


Step 3: Search in these Databases and Select Sources

Step 2: Search Strategies

Here are a few sample searches. Use these as a starting point, but branch out and try your own keywords. Try and try again.

Tips: 1. browse through your search results for search terms, including specific literary works, genres, cultures, and literary devices. 

2. Notice the "OR" in the searches below. Place OR between words to retrieve results with either/any term. It's a way to broaden your search.

These examples are from OneSearch, but the same principles apply in other databases.


Use EBSCO Filters

Beyond deciding on your search terms and combining them into an effective search, EBSCO offers various tools to focus your results. These filters appear on alongside search results.

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