Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

FSEM 100Q2: The Beauty Difference Gives Us: Home

Your assignments

Here are some of the features of your two research assignments. This is just a summary; please see the official assignment descriptions for complete details about the assignments.

Writing 1: Arguing a Point about Disability Studies
  • Argue in favor of something and use evidence to prove your point.
  • Your starting point should be the readings or videos or podcasts assigned for the day on which we discussed the issue you’ve chosen.
  • Find a minimum of 4 appropriate, scholarly sources -- the one we read for class and then three more, two of which must be books (a chapter is OK) or scholarly journal article(s).
Writing 2: Art, Art History, and Disability Studies (Vincent van Gogh or Frida Kahlo)
  • Please choose one of those two artists. You’ll also be choosing one specific artwork to research and analyze; that choice is up to you. Please also consider what issues or questions from Disability Studies you’d like to work with.
  • Look at the sources you used for Writing 1, but then also find and use at least 4 additional sources. At least one of those must include primary source material written by your chosen artist.


Use Quest to search the library's physical collection and the contents of most of the library's electronic databases.

Quest Logo
Search articles, books, and more...

Other tools you can use

The Wikipedia logo

Background information ("tertiary sources")
"Background information" means short overviews or summaries of a topic. The top Google results for any given topic are usually background information, including sites such as Wikipedia. You can also find background information in print encyclopedias. Simpson Library has a large collection of print encyclopedias in the Reference section on the first floor.

Background information is really useful. It's meant to be used when you're first starting your research. It helps you familiarize yourself with a new topic. However, do not cite background information. The reason why you shouldn't cite it is that it is not original. It merely repeats and summarizes what other people have said. It's better to get the information straight from the original source.



You can use Quest to search all subjects, or use individual databases to search specific subjects (such as Art or Sociology or Psychology). Out of the 200+ databases that UMW subscribes to, these are the most useful databases for this class:

Cartoon art of a book

Books in the library

Use Quest to discover books in the library, and then use call numbers to find those books on the shelves. Here's an explanation of how our call numbers work.

Books about art are shelved under letter N on the second floor. Books about Vincent van Gogh are at ND 653 .G7. Books about Frida Kahlo are at ND 259 .K33.

My presentation to your class

Here are the PowerPoint slides for my presentation to your class. Click in the lower right corner to expand the slides to full screen.



Types of sources

Here are the different types of sources that you'll use in your research:

  Primary sources Secondary sources Tertiary sources
What they are




  • Artworks
  • Statements by artists (or people who personally knew the artists)
    • Diaries
    • Interviews
    • Letters
    • Memoirs
  • Reviews by art critics
  • SCHOLARLY analysis (books, journal articles)
  • POPULAR analysis (magazines, news articles, web articles)
  • Wikipedia
  • Library encyclopedias
  • Textbooks
  • Study guides
How they help you They provide evidence to support your statements. They tell you what other people think about your topic. They introduce you to new concepts and help you find citable sources -- but are not themselves citable.


Please make sure that your secondary sources are all scholarly analysis, not popular analysis. Here's the difference:

  • SCHOLARLY sources are written for a narrow audience of scholars (experts who specialize in a certain field).
  • POPULAR sources are written for a broad, general audience.

This video explains the difference in more detail:

Video credit: Carnegie Vincent Library at Lincoln Memorial University.

Reference Librarian

Profile Photo
Peter Catlin

Other guides

Advice and recommendations for FSEMs in general, and for Art & Art History research. The Sociology guide might also be useful, for researching issues in disability studies.

The Citing Resources guide gives you examples of perfectly-formatted citations. Zotero is a free app that keeps track of the sources you've found, and generates citations without any typing.