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CMST 238 Intercultural Communication: Find Background (Reference)

Use the following online reference databases to find background information on a wide variety of topics. 

What kind of background can I find in reference sources?

An encyclopedia cover, "Immigrants in American History"Subject reference encyclopedias and companion works - the types of sources you will find in the online reference databases linked on this page and in the Reference section in Holman Library - contain overviews of topics related to the subject of each title that go into more detail than a comparable article from a general reference work (like World Book). 

Because these subject reference works intend to give highly reputable overviews of the topics covered, individual articles are often written or reviewed by academics who specialize in the topic the article is covering. This makes these encyclopedia articles more authoritative than news or magazine articles on the same topic.

Reference articles are meant to give a "big picture" view of a topic to help readers understand the larger issues at stake. The articles will summarize major trends or events connected to the topic, but will not always go into specifics and will only rarely mention recent events connected to a topic because the articles take time to write, review, and publish.

 You can use reference articles to help you connect a history, a framework, or larger trends to a particular news item, event, or conflict.

Find encyclopedias in Holman Library's Reference Collection:
(After hitting "search," look under the "Filter My Results" menu on the left, click on the "Show More" option under "Location," and select "Reference Collection.")

An Intercultural Example

"The Big Sick" movie poster

The film "The Big Sick,"  arranged marriage vs. romantic relationships

News article: "Are we ready for 'The Big Sick'? It's complicated." The Washington Post

Reference Articles: "Arranged Marriages" from Marriage Customs of the World: An Encyclopedia of Dating Customs and Wedding Traditions; "Romantic Love in Movies" from the Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents, and the Media.

How you might use the reference articles to provide history / context: The reference article on arranged marriage can help you discuss what the history of this practice is; the article on love in movies is showing how the trend in (U.S.) films is to show love as an individual romantic attraction, and also how the motivation for "love" in fictional films has changed in the US over time.