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PH 336 - Aesthetics


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to the PH336 Aesthetics course. Due to the depth of our collection on this topic as well as the variety of topics and subject areas you are able to pursue in this course, the guide is only meant to be a starting point for your research. For further research assistance, please contact the Philosophy Liaison Librarian.

In addition to the resources highlighted on this guide please make sure to view the resources on the Fine Arts subject guide. Sections of the Fine Arts guide that are of particular importance to this course include: Find Images and Selected Websites.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide on evaluating Web resources.  Please take advantage of these resources.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference books are shelved by Library of Congress call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk. They may not be checked out but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. Online reference sources can be found in the library catalog, or listed on E-Reference Resources.

Reference Materials

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics
     Ref BH56 .E53 1998 (v.1-4)

Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan)
     Ref B41 .E5 (v. 1-8)

New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd Edition
     Ref BX841 .N44 2003 (print version)

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
     Ref CB9.N49 (print version)

Oxford Art Online
     Ref N31 .D5 (print version)

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
     Ref B51 .R68 1998 (print version)
          See the Routledge Subject Guide on Aesthetics
          See the Routledge entry on Beauty


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Search Tips

To search the library catalogs and databases highlighted in this guide you will need to use Boolean operators (ANDs and ORs), truncation, and quotation marks to pull up books and articles on your topic. Here is a brief overview of how to use Boolean operators and truncation:

  • AND - use AND to link together search topics (Plato AND aesthetics)
  • OR - use OR to link together synonyms or like concepts (analysis OR interpretation)
  • * - use truncation to pull up the root of a word with variant endings (Type art* to pull up items with the words art, arts, artist, artists, etc.)
  • Quotation marks - When performing keyword searches use quotation marks to search for your keywords as an exact phrase (Type "Art as Experience" to look for the exact title and/or phrase of: Art as Experience. If you do not enclose your phrase with quotes the database will look for the terms Art and Experience as separate words throughout the entire record)


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Subject Heading and Keyword Searching

There are two main ways to search the library catalogs and databases, by subject heading and by keyword. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks, it is important therefore to know the best time to use each method.

Subject Headings

Subject headings are keywords that are assigned to books and articles that capture the item's key subject matter and themes. Use subject headings to look for materials on broad concepts such as the philosophy of nature or books on Aristotelian ethics. The method of searching by subject heading will vary depending on what catalog or database you are using, please contact the Philosophy Liaison Librarian if you need assistance in using the subject heading search functions.

Keyword Searches

Keyword Searches work best if you are researching a narrow concept for example, examining how a particular philosophical theory is approached by various philosophers. Keyword searches will look for your search term(s) in the citation, subject headings, abstract, and chapter titles (if available).

Examples of possible keyword searches relevant to this course include:

  • Aristotle AND aesthetics
  • Heidegger OR Nietzsche AND art
  • Art AND philosophy OR interpretation
  • Renaissance AND art* AND philosophy
  • Aesthetics AND beauty AND (Kant OR Dewey)

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Find Books/Secondary Sources

Geisel Library Catalog
The first step when looking for books is to search the Geisel Library Catalog. Remember that you can search by keyword or by subject heading.

Examples of possible subject heading searches include:

If you searched the Geisel Library Catalog but could not locate a book on your topic try searching WorldCat, a database that allows you to search the collections of libraries throughout the United States. If you find a book that you want you can request it through interlibrary loan (ILL) by clicking on the ILL icon in the book's catalog record. Please be aware that items requested through WorldCat can take a week to two weeks to be delivered, it is important therefore to request books through WorldCat early in the research process.


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Find Journal Articles

The following databases will help you locate scholarly research in the field of philosophy. When examining your search results you may come across the WebBridge icon. This icon means that the full text is not available in the database you are currently searching. To locate the full text, simply click on the icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in another electronic database. If the article isn't available, click on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your college email address in approximately 3-7 business days. To learn how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins; includes audio).

Core Philosophy and Fine Arts Databases

Philosopher's Index
The premier international resource in philosophy, this database contains over 160,000 citations with abstracts to journal articles as well as books (1940-present). Keep in mind that this is an abstract only database; you will need to use WebBridge to locate the full text.

Academic Search Premier
Academic Search Premier is an interdisciplinary database that provides abstracts and some full-text for a range of academic areas, including art and philosophy.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophical Issues. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.

Project MUSE
Project MUSE provides full text access to more than 200 journals in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences. As an interdisciplinary database you will be able to pull up research on your topic from a variety of different disciplines. Titles of interest for this course include: The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Journal of the History of Philosophy, and Philosophy and Literature.

APh:  L'Annee Philologique
This comprehensive index in classical studies indexes articles in hundreds of scholarly journals, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings. Articles written in many European languages are indexed, but the interface language of the database is English. (1959–present) Earlier volumes are available in paper and are located in the General Collection PA29 .A5    User Guide


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Selected Internet Resources

Searching the Internet can yield a vast amount of information, but in terms of quality and reliability, your results may be uneven at best. The ease and speed with which individuals can publish information on the web, regardless of accuracy or quality makes it imperative that when doing research on the web you know how to evaluate the information you find.

If when searching the Internet, you locate references to books or articles that you would like to view please check with a reference librarian to see if the items can be located in Geisel Library's print or electronic collection or through Interlibrary Loan.

Search Engines

psearch is a customized search engine, directed to search only those websites that contain scholarly research in the field of philosophy. Maintained by Joe Lau, psearch replaces the no longer maintained International Directory of Online Philosophy Papers website.

Electronic Book Collections

Project Guttenberg
Project Guttenberg allows you to read digitized versions of novels for free on its website. Search by author, title, or genre to locate a book of your choosing. To search by genre, click the Bookshelf link on the left side of the screen. Books are limited to those works that are no longer copyright protected.

Google Book Search
Google Books also lets you read digitized books on its website. To search for full text versions of works:

1.     Click Advanced Book Search

2.     Enter in your keywords

3.     Click the "Full View" radio button

By selecting Full View you are limiting your search to only those books that are available in full text in the Google Books collection. Full View books are limited to those works that are no longer copyright protected.


Erratic Impact-Philosophy Research Base
Browse Erratic's website by time period, philosopher, or philosophical topic. In a bibliographical format, the website organizes print and electronic resources according to subject; to view the resources on Aesthetics click on Browse Philosophical Topics and select Aesthetics.

Google Scholar
Materials found in Google Scholar include "peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations" (About Google Scholar, 2006). Google Scholar is a good starting point for research, but it is not considered comprehensive for scholarly content. For the most thorough search of a topic, consult subject-specific indexes (ERIC, PsycINFO, SocINDEX, etc.). One word of caution: never purchase an article found on Google Scholar, always check with a reference librarian to see if the article can be located in Geisel Library's print or electronic collection or through Interlibrary Loan.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Search the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by keyword or by browsing their table of contents. Make sure to take advantage of the links to related entries and the bibliographic references at the end of entries.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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