Skip to Main Content

ARTH 210 (Contemporary Art in Canada) Course Guide: Find Background Sources

A course guide intended to help students start their research for Art 210

Background Information

After you've chosen a topic to research, you will need to find sources that introduce you to the topic. Background sources provide you with:

  • Important dates or events
  • Definitions
  • Introduction to key issues
  • Keywords
  • Lists of sources

What are reference books?

Reference books are great sources for finding facts and background information. On this page, you will find lists of reference books that may contain useful information for your assignments. For additional reference books on your topic, come to the library for help! 

What are Encyclopedias?

Encyclopedias provide background information on a topic. Encyclopedias can be on a specific topic, or a wide range of topics. 

Our online and print encyclopedias are written by scholars and are great starting points for your research!

Online Encyclopedias

Anthologies Featuring Canadian Artists

Oh, Canada

Art of the 20th Century

Contemporary Canadian Artists

Sightlines: Reading Contemporary Canadian Art

Why Can't I Use Wikipedia?

Many instructors will tell you not to use Wikipedia at all for research. There are a few reasons why instructors are reluctant to allow you to use Wikipedia.

1. Anyone can edit Wikipedia 
  • One of the benefits and drawbacks of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. This means that information about an event or issue can be updated quickly as things happen, but it also means that Wikipedia is susceptible to vandalism.

  • Sometimes, entries can be biased depending on the author. Wikipedia usually flags these pages for problems.

2. Over-relying on Wikipedia is not research
  • Wikipedia provides mostly background information and will not give you in-depth information. Relying on Wikipedia will result in a boring paper, and you will not be able to support your arguments well. 

  • Anyone can read a Wikipedia page. If you rely on Wikipedia for most of your research, your paper will read like a Wikipedia entry. 

  • Research involves listening to the academic conversation that is occurring between experts on a topic. To understand major issues or debates, you have to read the sources written by experts. 

Tips for Using Wikipedia
  • Scroll down to the "Sources" section of a page. Some of these sources may be useful sources for your research.

  • Read Wikipedia pages to get ideas for keywords to use to find articles and books. Wikipedia can provide you with a sense of the language used to describe a topic.

  • Skim Wikipedia pages to identify key people associated with a topic. These may be important authors or people involved in an event or debate. Search for more information on these people in the library's databases.