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Several databases can be good beginning points with introductory overview essays on your topic and some include bibliographies of the principal recommended secondary and primary sources. These can be good starting points for thinking about your topic and identifying the key recommended works.
Reference sources published by Oxford University Press. Dictionaries, subject reference works, language reference sources and key titles in the Oxford Companion series. Some examples are: the Oxford-Duden German dictionaries, A Dictionary of Psychology, A Dictionary of Zoology, The Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, A Dictionary of Writers and Their Works, Oxford Companion to Western Art, Oxford Companion to U.S.History, Oxford Companion to Music, Oxford Companion to Philosophy, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, etc.
Concise overviews of hundreds of diverse topics from the abstract (Knowledge) to the concrete (Coral Reefs), written by experts in the field who combine facts, analysis, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make challenging topics highly readable.
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Companions are books authored and edited by scholarly writers that give background information about topics. This background can further your understanding of the issues and/or complexities surrounding your topic and the time period when it takes place.
You can find "companions" on many topics. Just do a keyword search in the Library Catalog for the word "companion" and the word(s) for your topic to see if one has been published. Below are some examples of the variety of companions you might encounter - from the broad to the narrow in scope.
Call Number: Central, HQ1410 .C63 2002, and Available Online
This collection of twenty-four original essays by leading scholars in American women's history highlights the most recent important scholarship on the key debates and future directions of this popular and contemporary field. Covers the breadth of American Women's history, including the colonial family, marriage, health, sexuality, education, immigration, work, consumer culture, and feminism. Surveys and evaluates the best scholarship on every important era and topic. Includes expanded bibliography of titles to guide further research.
Call Number: Central, D1051 .C65 2009, and Available Online
A Companion to Europe Since 1945 provides a stimulating guide to numerous important developments which have influenced the political, economic, social, and cultural character of Europe during and since the Cold War. Includes 22 original essays by an international team of expert scholars; Examines the social, intellectual, economic, cultural, and political changes that took place throughout Europe in the Cold War and Post Cold War periods; Discusses a wide range of topics including the Single Market, European-American relations, family life and employment, globalization, consumption, political parties, European decolonization, European identity, security and defence policies, and Europe′s fight against international terrorism; Presents Europe in a broad geographical conception, to give equal weighting to developments in the Eastern and Western European states
A Companion to the History of the Middle East offers a fresh account of the multifaceted and multi-layered history of this region. Comprising 26 newly commissioned essays by leading international scholars, this Companion treats the Middle East as four differentiated political units - Iran, Turkey, Israel, and the Arab world. While focused primarily on the modern and contemporary periods, it also includes a number of chapters on classical and pre-modern themes. Topics are situated within a chronological framework and include the rise of Islam, the militarization of Islam under a wide variety of dynasties, the commercial and industrial revolutions, colonial rule, and the struggle for independence. A final section highlights issues that have preoccupied historians in the second half of the twentieth century, and are most likely to gain momentum well into the twenty-first. These range from oil and urban growth to the role of women and democratic human rights.
Call Number: Central, D13 .C628 2012, and Available Online
A Companion to World History presents 34 essays from an international group of historians that both identify continuing areas of contention, disagreement, and divergence in world and global history, and point to directions for further debate. Features a diverse cast of contributors that include established world historians and emerging scholars. Explores a wide range of topics and themes, including and the practice of world history, key ideas of world historians, the teaching of world history and how it has drawn upon and challenged "traditional" teaching approaches, and global approaches to writing world history. Places an emphasis on non-Anglophone approaches to the topic. Considers issues of both scholarship and pedagogy on a transnational, interregional, and world/global scale.
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