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History 230: The Roots of English Society & Politics: Life of an Object: Getting Started

This course guide is intended for students enrolled in Prof. Katherine Allen Smith's course. It provides links to relevant resources and suggests assignment-specific research strategies.

Medieval Craftsmen Series (University of Toronto Press)

Art and Architecture Reference

Although the focus of this assignment is not on art history, you may find that these resources provide at least some of the information you'll need to interpret your object.

Oxford Art Online
This massive reference resource includes the full text of the 34-volume Dictionary of Art.  [Note:  There is a limit of three simultaneous users.]

Oxford Reference Art & Architecture

Includes these sources for an overview of art related topics.




Recommended Subject Encyclopedias

Start your research with these subject encyclopedias, then branch out as needed. 

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Peggy Burge
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Using Subject Encyclopedias

It's likely that you'll need to think expansively and creatively as you research your chosen object.  The following questions will help guide you as you do research:

Who created the object?

When was it created?

How was it created?

Where was it found?

Who would have made use of it?  Who wouldn't have made use of it?


Undertaking Additional Research

If you'd like to do a bit more research beyond what's available in subject encyclopedias, here are a few good strategies to use:

  1. Search Primo for books that are listed in the bibliographies of encyclopedia entries.  You won't need to read the entire book, just the sections that help you interpret your object.
  2. Search JSTOR for scholarly articles that may reference or help you interpret your object.  [JSTOR is a convenient, full-text database, but it doesn't not contain current scholarship.]
  3. Search ITER, a subject database devoted to medieval studies, for a more expansive set of books, essays in books, and scholarly articles.
  4. Search HSTM (History of Science, Technology and Medicine) particularly when you're interested in how the object was made or if it relates to medicine or aspects of warfare.